IACE Hall of Fame Repository


Older Adult Learning: Instrumental and Expressive Categories

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1976

Induction Class Year



This article examines older adult preferences for instrumental vs expressive learning activities. Course title selections and actual learning activity information were analyzed. Interviews with 256 Nebraskans,55 or older, (average age was 68.11) were obtained. Hypotheses and results were (a) predicted preference for instrumental learning was supported; (b) greater preference for instrumental learning by blue-collar workers and the less educated received partial support as no differences existed for the occupational category but individuals without college degrees preferred instrumental courses; and (c) predicted differences in learning activity received partial support as younger people, white-collar workers, college graduates, nonwhites, and married people were more involved with instrumental learning. It was concluded that more instrumental learning opportunities must be made available to older people.

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