Road ScholarsAdventures in Lifelong LearningBy: Amanda Bolin, Andrew Buckle, Sara PrattScott Rafalski, Paul Starr
Introduction to Road ScholarsFindingsApplicationsEvaluationImplicationConclusionTopics to be Covered
IntroductionThe purpose of our project was to investigate and learn an adult learning theory (andragogy) andthen to link it to some educational programs (The Road Scholars Program). This then allowed us todesign and create our own learning program based on this adult learning theory and research intovarious educational programs. This program creation was then given to a couple of educators forreview and critique. This information was then used to re-evaluate the program and make changes asnecessary.Andragogy can be defined as the methods or techniques used to teach adults: Many educatorsbelieve that the principles of andragogy, as advanced by Malcolm Knowles, have great relevance toadult education.Road Scholars is an international program directed at retired seniors to engage in lifelong learningpursuits (Elderhostel, Inc., 2013). Although the program offers a myriad of choices, locations, andeducational opportunities, the concern for many who may find themselves on fixed incomes, is afinancial barrier to participating.Our program design was meant to provide elderly learners the opportunity to engage in the learningprocess in a low cost, local and interest based format. This can be done through self-directedlearning in which individuals take the initiative, with or without assistance, in diagnosing theirlearning needs (Corporate Training Partners, 2009). This program seeks to partner with localcommunity stores, senior centers, and neighborhoods. Utilizing local community or senior centerscreates a low cost and engaging atmosphere to this demographic and minimizes planning out theirparts, freeing them to engage in the learning process more.
LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGSFindingsThe literature review allowed us to really get an in depth understanding of andragogy. Thisallowed us to grasp and understand the key differences that do exist between andragogy (adultlearning) and pedagogy (pre-adult ) A common theme within the literatures reviews was that thistheory was based on a set of assumptions.1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).3. Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planningand evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their workand/or personal lives (Readiness).5. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).Knowing that this theory is based on a set of assumptions thus brings a lot of critics to theforefront that have disputed that andragogy isn’t really grand in substance, does little to expandor clarify our understanding of the process of learning and has not been tested whatsoever asbeing the basis of adult learning theory or a unifying model.
Main Features of the Programs ReviewedContinued Findings….Road ScholarsRoad Scholars offer learning adventures in all 50 of the United States of America and over 150 differentcountries around the world. As a branch of Elderhostel Incorporated, Road Scholars offers learningopportunities to adults in non -credit programs in many academic and special interest fields. Scholarsare educated by local and renowned experts, experience in-depth and behind-the-scenes learningopportunities, from cultural tours and study cruises to walking, and biking. The idea behind RoadScholars was to provide further learning opportunities to the aging generation, often adults in a retiredprofessional status, without the stress of formal school work that is found in most post secondaryeducation opportunities. Additionally, it allows adults to benefit from the youth hostel concept that isprevalent in many European nations. The Elderhostel program offers low cost and comfortable housingwith expert guides through an adventure, allowing peer and expert discourse, questioning and furtherintellectual development to take place.Corporate Training ConsultantsCorporate Training Consultants Inc. was created in 1992 and is based out of Chicago, Illinois. Thetargeted learners for the program are individuals in the field of retail, manufacturing, financial services,transportation, utilities, non-profits and adults seeking higher education. The purpose of CorporateTraining Consultants Inc. is to keep employees productive while enabling them to continue tolearn. The program uses self-directed learning in which individuals take the initiative to diagnose theirlearning needs, formulating their learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning,choose and implement appropriate learning strategies, and the adult learner will be able to evaluatetheir learning outcome. Corporate Training Consultants’ objectives are to retool an adult student’s skillset from passive to active learning. Also, it provides information that is relevant to everyone, from newhires to senior management. This program enables learners to learn only what they need to acquireand develop self-directed learning skills which can also be congruent towards a life of learning.
Our group sought to create a learning environment that took the elements ofAndragogy to a specific group of people we felt were often left out of educationalopportunities. As mentioned previously, Road Scholars present one of option, butwith rising health care cost, fixed incomes for many in the retired community, thisvenue seemed too limiting. Our response to this, was a community centered, interestbased learning environment through partnerships with other local services andbusinesses to create a low cost educational based program to further the skill sets ofthe aging population.The program is housed in local community centers and can utilize local gardencenters, nutritional clinics, recreational businesses and much more. These businesspartnerships are able to present their products to students and share their expertiseknowledge with participants creating a learning opportunity for further skilldevelopment and knowledge attainment. Students then are provided peercollaboration and workshop time to use these newly learned skills with the supportof the local expert and peers. In one such example, we discuss the use of a localnursery to share gardening and planting tips. Students are then encouraged to applythese skills in their home or community as a response.Application
With the support of two adult education representatives, we were able toget useful critiques of our original program design. One concept thatbecame apparent in our planning stages is that we made several inferencesabout what we believed students in our target group would want to learn,yet did not use them as a resource in the planning stages. As the planningteam, we made assumptions to what our students would like to learn, andshould have incorporated student interests from direct data collection orhaving them on a planning team to begin with.A second critique came up that our focus was potentially too small, andthat our design could be utilized in more than one venue. Both evaluatorssaw partnerships with community centers, but also with k-12 schoolsystems as well as health centers such as hospitals and dieting clinics forthese partnerships. This provided our target students more avenues toengage the community and give back, as well as improve their own qualityof life from the education they received from the events.Evaluation
After reviewing and having our program evaluated, we conclude that this program couldhave the ability to branch out to other community networks, such as daycare programs forelderly to give back to the community by educating children – the elderly population canshare their wisdom and enlighten children of their history and differences from today toback then. Also allowing a “break” for parents who are working full time along withraising their children.Also, we felt from our evaluation we could enhance our program with more nutritiontopics or meal service programs. The elderly population is often at nutrition risk due todecrease in appetite, change in taste buds, possibly living alone, and may be challengedwith complex health issues. Offering these additional service programs/resources canprevent malnourished and dehydrated elders.Implication
Our group feels that we have a great avenue for building up the community and allowingfor a lifelong learning model directed toward a population that is often not thought for,the elderly. Initially looking for business and community partnerships, we discovered wemissed one of the biggest partnerships of all, having someone in our target demographicbe a part of the planning stages. In Knowle’s Andragogy theory it is important that thestudents in a program feel as though they are connected with the content and learn it forthe sake of learning, not because it is dictated to them.Therefore, for our final design we are offering a program collaborated with a daycareservice for seniors to spend time with children to enhance their learning and share theirwisdom. Also, provide a meal service program to offer social support and meal timetogether, along with preventing nutrition complications.With these additions, we feel our program design will boost the morale of the communityfor senior living.Conclusion
Corporate Training Partners (2009). Self-directed learning:Be your own chief learning officer. Retrieved fromhttp://www.selfdirectedlearning.orgElderhostel, Inc. (2013). Road scholar: Adventures inlifelong learning. Retrieved from http://www.Roadscholar,org/Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007),Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide.References