I Am 60+ and I Study at University: Characteristics of Elderly Learners at Higher Education in Taiwan
Our understanding of older learners enrolling in formal education in general and in higher education in particular is next to nothing. There exists, however, a common belief that elderly learners are mostly retired females who have lots of free time and tend to choose easy subject matters to learn. Is such a belief a fact or a fallacy? As official statistics for the education of older adults are lacking, for the purpose of setting up an inclusive campus and better policies for older adults who have various learning needs, this study aims to find out characteristics of older adults who are over sixty and enrolled in university degree programs by investigating who they are, why, how, and what they study. 662 questionnaires were sent to registered elderly students, and 287 valid questionnaires were obtained. Main findings of this study reveal that several popular beliefs about elderly learners are simply myths. First, the majority of elderly learners at universities were males, not females. Second, elderly learners went to university in order to pursue knowledge, not to obtain degrees. Third, half of the students were not retired. Fourth, a large proportion of males majored in humanities and arts, which were traditionally considered as fields of study for females. This study contributes to our understanding of the heterogeneity and various learning needs of older adults. The findings suggest that elderly learners enrolling in higher education might be different from learners who participate in non-formal education. Three conclusions were drawn from the study. Further discussions about and suggestions for educational gerontology were also provided.
|關鍵詞||正規教育、老人、非傳統學生、高齡教育、高等教育、formal education、older adults、non-traditional students、educational gerontology、higher education|