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Psycho-social concomitants of motivational orientation in a group of older adult education participants Riddell, Beverly Gail

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to show that, in the case of older adults, motives for participation in adult education are related to certain psycho-social characteristics associated with the later years. Following retirement, adults face the loss of a number of roles. Ways of adapting to loss or change must be sought. Planners of adult education programs for older people should be aware of changes taking place in the older person, and create learning environments which facilitate adaptation to old age. To this end, a study of motives and their concomitant needs was conducted with a population of 118 retired people residing in Greater Vancouver. The study attempted to reveal a relationship between one motive for participation in adult education (Escape/Stimulation) and participants' levels of life satisfaction, adjustment to developmental tasks of later life and social participation. Boshier's (1976a) Education Participation Scale was employed to measure motives for participation. Responses from the scale were factor analyzed and orthogonally rotated to produce four "orientations"--Escape/ Stimulation, Social Welfare, Social Contact and Cognitive Interest. Factor scores were correlated with relevant demographic data and the three measures of psycho-social characteristics. Respondents motivated to attend for Escape/Stimulation manifested low levels of life satisfaction, adjustment to developmental tasks of later life and social participation. These respondents also tended to have a lower educational background and previous job level than those who were not motivated by Escape/Stimulation motives. Boshier (1971, 1976, 1976a) and Haag (1976) analyzed motives for participation and claimed a relationship exists between these motives and Maslow's growth/deficiency model. They see the Escape/Stimulation factor as being indicative of deficiency motivation. The present study has added validity to theorizing undertaken in previous research by indicating that, amongst older adults, the Escape/Stimulation factor is related to deficiencies in life satisfaction, adjustment and social participation. It is contended that courses presently offered by institutions for the older adult are not meeting the special needs of the clientele. If motives for participation are measured, the resulting information can aid the planner in designing a compatible learning environment for the older person.

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