A Confirmatory Study on the Motivational Orientations of Older Adults Involved in Formal Education at the University of Maryland

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The purpose of this study was two-fold. One objective was to confirm Pritchard's (1978) typology of older adults' motives for education participation. Another purpose was to examine the influence that selected demographic variables (age, gender, socioeconomic status, and marital status) had on motivations of older students to participate in the "Golden Identification" (Golden I.D.) Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The sample consisted of 160 participants from the Golden I.D. Program who were selected through a systematic probability sampling procedure. A mailed questionnaire comprised of three instruments was used for conducting this research. The first part of the questionnaire measured motivational orientations for participation in education by older adults and consisted of the Education Participation Scale for Older Adults and the Older Learner Participation Scale. The third instrument measured demographic characteristics of the study participants. The results revealed that the motivation of the Golden I.D. students to participate in education can be divided into the following six factors (in decreasing order of importance): "cognitive interest," "self actualization," "adaptation/self-understanding," "social contact," "social contribution," and "escape/stimulation . " Furthermore, significant relationships emerged between the socioeconomic status of the participant, and the motives "social contribution," "escape/stimulation," and "self actualization." The implications of these findings and recommendations for further research are discussed.