Models of Cognitive and Intellectual Development

Barbara Smith


The purpose of the study from which this article is drawn is to explore how older adults (in this study, adults over 60 years of age) experience learning in classroom settings. Based on the literature in adult intellectual and cognitive development, older adult learners differ from young adult learners in significant ways such that they may require different teaching practices to facilitate their learning. In-depth interviews with nine older adults enrolled in degree programs in a university were conducted to elicit their personal narratives of their learning experiences. Participants were asked to keep journals as a means of reflecting on these experiences. One theme that is emerging from the data is how participants past experiences are treated in the classroom. In general, I found that participants past experiences were not recognized or acknowledged by teachers. This article discusses the stories of two participants and outlines some implications for teachers.


older adults; higher education; universities; narratives

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Higher Education Perspectives. ISSN: 1710-1530