Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Michael Lane Morris

Committee Members

Greer Litton Fox, Priscilla Blanton, Sky Huck


The overall purpose of this study was to serve as a needs assessment for family life education programming for middle and older adults. Specifically,this study explored interest in family life education topics,preferred instructional strategies, environmental considerations,deterrents and motivators to program participation, and the likelihood of future participation. Data were collected through survey mailed to a stratified random sample of1000 adults,250 in each of four age groups:50-64,65-74,75-84,and 85 and over.

Overall,it was determined that middle age adults(50-64)are generally more interested in family life education topics than are older adults and are also more receptive to group instructional strategies and the use of computers in family life education.Independent use instructional strategies(e.g., brochures,newsletters) were rated higher than group instructional strategies and computers.

Night driving and cost of program were rated as the most important external deterrents to participation. Personal characteristics that were barriers to participation(e.g., poor health,not enough energy)were more important for older age groups than for the younger age groups. A need for information was rated as the highest motivator for participation and women were more motivated by a desire for social support and new friends.The results of regression analysis indicated that the variables of social support, age, gender, health status, and educational attainment predicted the likelihood of future program participation.

The life course perspective proved to be a useful framework in guiding this study and in interpreting the results. Conclusion and implications for family life education programming and practice are provided.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."