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Addressing & Enhancing Diversity: Age Issues

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  1. Addressing & Enhancing Diversity: Age Issues Barbara B. Shadden University of Arkansas

  2. Relevance for CSD Programs • Growing #’s non-traditional students • Ph.D. shortages and need to appeal to mid-career professionals • Au.D. and similar degrees attracting practitioners beyond entry-level • Broader issue of graying of America • Distance technology and older learners

  3. Age must be considered in: • Recruitment • Instructional design • Retention • Mentoring Age is also a factor for faculty: • Graying of faculty • Recruitment of new faculty -- different needs, philosophies of teaching and learning, institutional demands • Conflicting perceptions of mission, career goals

  4. Dilemmas in covering topic • How/when do we decide age is a factor? • What part of the lifespan are we considering? • How far must we go in accommodating? Topics for Today • Definitions & Demographics • Lifespan differences • Characteristics of adult learners • How do we respond

  5. Definitions There is the 18-22 y.o. student and then… • the older learner • the non-traditional student • the returning student • the re-entry student • adult students/learners

  6. At least 2 important distinctions • the older learner (at least 50 years or older) • the non-traditional student (pretty much everything BUT the student who transitions relatively directly from high school to college)

  7. Criteria--examples • CAPCSD -- > 30 years old • part-time students over 35 years • students married, 25 y.o or older, a parent, and/or out of school for a few years (KSU) • adult returning to school FT or PT while maintaining responsibilities such as family and employment • 25 years (U of A); 24 years (UMM)

  8. Facts and figures--CAPCSD National Survey • Mean 12.4% of CSD students >30 years • Figures vary tremendously by Federal Region, from 5.9% in Region III (DE, MD, PA, VA, WV, DC) to 18.9% in Region I (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) and 20% internationally

  9. Why such a range of nontraditional students in CSD? • Access to programs? • Distance education availability? • Models of academic course delivery (e.g., night, weekend, summers-only courses)? • Availability of part-time programs of study? • Other?

  10. Other facts and figures--sample data • 29% of students at KSU are nontraditional • 24% of students at U of A-Fayetteville campus -- in last 10 years, nontraditional enrollments in CSD masters’s program ranged from 10% to 35% • 40% of all enrollments in post-secondary ed (Indiana U, average age 35 years, 80% working at least 20 hours/week, 72% with children)

  11. The Older Learner in general • Aging of society reflected in higher education • Fastest growing age group on American campuses is over 50 years old • Universities being challenged to create better, age-integrated learning • Computers, internet access…not turning out to be problem

  12. 1999 AARP study -- 50 years or older • preferred learning methods with easy access, requiring small investments in time and money to start, with immediate learning possible • learn best through direct, hands on experience -- do, study, think about it • interested in learning to keep up to date, for spiritual or personal growth, or simple joy of learning something new

  13. For the truly older learner, have to accommodate • true aging changes -- physical and cognitive • life stage • motivations/goals for learning • familiarity/discomfort with classroom learning environment SEE HANDOUT

  14. Lifespan Issues for Adult Learners • Growth vs. development • Accommodations to changing world • Stages (Knowles = have to look at life stage from point of view of: critical periods, focus of commitments, and perceptions of time in life cycle) (Erickson?)

  15. Havighurst--after childhood • 18-30: focus on life and concern for self image, less concern for society, education as instrument for advancement • 30-40: collecting energies, stability, less introspection and self doubt, focus on job and child-rearing • 40-50: self-exertion and assertion -- at one’s peak-- involvement in public and civic activities, decline in education focus, increase in action orientation

  16. Havighurst continued... • 50-60: maintenance of position with some role changes, education for expressive purposes, beginning of passivity • 60-70: deciding when and how to disengage • 70+: disengagement

  17. Smithers • Entry stage -- 18 to 25 -- orientation to future, change is good • Career development -- 20 to 50 -- orientation to present, away from interest in promotion to interest in intrinsic value of work participation, achievement in non-work arenas • Plateau -- 35 to 55 -- time focus from present to sense that running out

  18. Characteristics of Adult Learners-Overview • Autonomous and self-directed -- self concept of responsibility, may conflict with old experiences of formal education • Beginning with a need to know -- including “why” having to learn something • Foundation of life experience • Different orientation to learning -- life-centered (or task/problem centered) • Achievement oriented

  19. Overview, continued • Learn best by relating new to previously learned • Relevance is all • Practical is focus • Need to be shown respect • Bring more clearly established values, beliefs, opinions

  20. Overview, continued • Style and pace of learning may have changed -- or become set • Need variety in techniques • Need multi-modality presentations • Need participatory process • Physical needs may have changed -- frequent breaks, interrupt lectures, interactive and physically moving around • Individual differences accelerate with age

  21. Motivations--why are they there? • Self-improvement--internal/external • Self-actualization • Vocational-advancement • Role change • Family issues • Social interests-relationships • Humanitarian drive • Knowledge-cognitive interest

  22. Some say motivation related to life stage • seek out learning to cope with life-changing events--the more life changes, the more learning is desired • will engage in learning that promotes transitions • usually driven by perceived need for skill/knowledge • self-esteem may play strong role

  23. Why return? • Earlier dropout for financial reasons, competing responsibilities, lack of focus or motivation or maturity • Changing job requirements or career changes • Increased premium placed on education for certain jobs • Changes in leisure patterns • Self-fulfillment

  24. Categories of Motivation -- Houle • Goal oriented -- specific, external objective • Activity oriented -- like learning process, like group environment, want to stay engaged • Learning oriented -- knowledge for itself

  25. Learning Styles • want opportunity for self-direction • want to participate in goal-setting • need opportunities for leadership • want to relate to what already know, and want to bring that experience into classroom • may want/need more time

  26. Learning styles continued • need goals and procedures clearly laid out • self-esteem may be more at stake than for younger learner • do best with a learning episode that is: • episodic, not continuous • problem-centered, not curriculum-oriented • immediate, concrete, short term • more driven by analogic thinking, trial and error, less memorization • moves from concrete to abstract

  27. Issues, Barriers, Challenges • Guilt over responsibilities to others (family) • Child care • Justifying compromises between career and family • Guilt over time or simply... • Lack of time • Insufficient support from family • Finances

  28. Issues continued • Geographical access • Lack of age cohort • Limited acceptance for student status--in institution, program, family, social milieu • Burden of multiple responsibilities • Red tape • Wrong motivation

  29. Common Fears and Concerns • haven’t studied in years -- out of practice • not sure have skills • always nervous about tests • past school experience not always positive • computers/internet • won’t fit in -- will be outsider • faculty won’t want older student • it will take too long

  30. Bottom Line At different life span points in development, we have different focus, goals, needs, self-perceptions, and points of crisis. For our non-traditional students, we must expect and plan effectively for these differences if we expect to see age-diverse classrooms.

  31. Challenges for CSD Programs -- Institutional • Child care • Finance • Special registration, advising, orientation • Greater availability & access to parking • Special assistance with housing • Networking opportunities

  32. Programmatic Challenges • Distance education • Scheduling-- evening, weekend, alternative course times • Part-time?

  33. Classroom/Learning Challenges • Must constantly integrate new with known • Must recognize that info conflicting with previous “truths” is integrated more slowly • Must recognize that information with little conceptual overlap is acquired more slowly • Fast, complex, unusual learning tasks may be problematic • Relevance is the name of the game

  34. Classroom challenges continued • Active learning is essential • Need to plan for belief and value system change if needed • Must provide more changes for self-direction, self-defined learning tasks • Must provide an environment that supports views, minimizes fears -- self-esteem issues • Need to identify specific learning style of individual student

  35. Classroom challenges continued • Need to provide detailed feedback • Need to learn more to facilitate than to control • Need to find ways of integrating and exploiting life experience of student • Need to ensure an environment that is physically supportive of learner with vision, hearing, physical challenges

  36. Are We in Trouble? Probably less in this area of diversity than others... • New ASHA standards are moving the learning experience in the directions suggested by our knowledge of adult learner needs and expectations • Issues of geographical access, independent study, etc. are already being grappled with by graduate programs, particularly clinical doctoral programs

  37. Where Do We Need to Grow and Change? • Recruitment efforts • Making the institution more accessible and adult-learner friendly • Ensuring our faculty are aware of: • learning style differences • motivation differences--why there? • life crisis differences-critical periods • learning to use experience