Research in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Network

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The Journal of Continuing Higher Education


A 19-question online survey was administered to all 115 directors of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLIs) across the United States to explore the extent to which research is being conducted and for what purposes. A response rate of 87% was attained. Findings revealed that most research focused on issues such as course and instructor evaluation and ascertaining the sociodemographic profi les of members. Regarding the much less common research that is being conducted to investigate topics of emerging importance, online learning, racial/ethnic diversity, and ways programs are working to mitigate physical barriers for older learners were the most frequently reported themes. In addition, respondents noted that older learners in their programs take part in research conducted by investigators external to OLLI programs as participants in “citizen science” and other projects. One important implication of this study is to encourage continuing education and other university leaders to take advantage of the enormous potential OLLI programs have both as agents for conducting research and as participants in investigations related to adult learning and other critical issues in society.