Demographic and Behavioral Characteristics of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Members

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The Journal of Continuing Higher Education


The number of lifelong learning institutes (LLIs) is growing across the United States and it is important for educational planners and administrators to know about current demographic and behavioral characteristics of program participants. A 14-question survey was administered via SurveyMonkey to members who use computers in eight Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) programs. Questions focused on selected demographic characteristics and also retirement trends such as relocation, extent of part-time or full-time employment, and technology utilization, as well as experience with distance education and areas of interest for lifelong learning courses. A total of 3,023 older learners responded to this survey. The largest age category of respondents was 65 to 69 years of age. Seventy percent of the sample was female. The educational level of OLLI participants is high, with 86% having completed college and more than 50% having completed a graduate program. As expected, the use of technology (e.g., tablets, Facebook, etc.) was lower among older participants, particularly above the age of 70. A substantial proportion of the sample reported either being employed full-time or part-time or seeking work. Implications of these and other demographic and behavioral characteristics are discussed.