Self-Directed Later Life Learning: Individual and Social Contexts

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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate how self-directed later life learning is utilized and interpreted by older adults in their particular environments. The following questions were raised: What are the opportunities for older adults’ engagement in self-directed learning in their environments? How older adults realize their self-directed learning in response to the opportunities provided by their environments? Thematic analysis was used as research method to analyse participants’ experiences and meanings they attribute to self-directed learning in their actual environments. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 12 older adults engaged in their self-directed learning pursuits. The findings from the study showed that older adults’ engagement in generativity-based activities, interest-based activities and social networks are contexts of self-directed learning in later life; these contexts support older adults’ self-directed learning by providing learning impetus, opportunities and resources; realization of self-directed learning is influenced by ageing-related changes and individual circumstances of older adults.

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