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The Older Adult's Learning Projects

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This paper examines the learning activity of older adults. Utilizing the methodology for identifying learning projects derived by Tough (1971), we interviewed 214 Nebraskans, 55 or older (average age,68.11). Findings included the following: (1) nearly 325 hours and 3.3 learning projects were the annual averages, (2) a majority of the learning activity was self-directed, (3) there were no differences in the means for nine demographic subgroupings on the number of annual hours in learning, and (4) upper-middle- and upper-class, college-graduated, and white-collar respondents carried out significantly more learning projects than their counterpart subgroups. It is suggested that adult educators must reexamine their roles as supporters of formal institutional programs in light of the data on learning projects.

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