Original Academic Research on Boomers & Lifelong Learning Released
The First Academic Study to “Connect the Dots” Between Boomers, Higher Education, and the Willingness to Pursue a College Degree, Training or Certification Program that Integrates Experiential Learning, Service Learning, and Social Responsibility Disciplines
Ann Harwood, Ed.D., President, Creative Solutions, released her original academic dissertation research on Lifelong Learning: The Integration of Experiential Learning, Quality of Life Work in Communities, and Higher Education at the 2009 American Society on Aging/National Council on Aging Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Harwood, a leading age boomer with a kind heart, embodies a strong commitment to higher education and social responsibility. “I believe it is important to reinvest in yourself to create an encore career path for your second chapter of life,” emphasized Harwood. With a strong belief in her vision to improve the quality of life in communities in partnership with higher education, Harwood earned her Doctor of Education at age 60 at The University of Montana in May 2007.
“The findings of this study reveal the threads of interest in social responsibility work by Boomers and older adults. Higher education and lifelong learning institutes are in the prime position to provide leadership, college courses, training and programs that will empower these curious Boomers and hardy elders to give back to society by working in fulfilling jobs for the rest of their lives,” reported Harwood. “Social responsibility disciplines include human services, healthcare, education, environment, arts and culture management, and nonprofit community leadership,” defined Harwood.
Harwood’s quantitative study examined preferences and choices by adult learners (ages 50-70) who were participants in Elderhostel international experiential programs and The University of Montana Alumni Association educational travel programs. The study investigated the preferences of the sample populations, their interest in making a career change in mid-life, and their willingness to participate in training, certification and/or university degree bearing studies in social responsibility disciplines, including human services, healthcare, education, environment, arts and culture management, and nonprofit community leadership. The educational travel program typologies of the respondents were compared with their interests to make career transitions to jobs to improve the quality of life in their communities.
According to Harwood, the potential is high for higher education to attract lifelong learners and new revenues. “There is some interest displayed by the respondents of this study for training and/or certificate programs thereby creating new sources of revenue for higher education institutions. Of key interest to universities and Lifelong Learning Institute’s, thirty percent (30%) of Elderhostel and seventeen percent (17%) of The University of Montana respondents expressed interest in getting training for work in social responsibility.
The majority of people in the boomer age group are interested in getting training for work in social responsibility. Seventeen percent (17%) of Elderhostel and nineteen percent (19%) of The University of Montana respondents are willing to pay tuition for a degree in social responsibility disciplines,” reports Harwood. “A cross correlation of Elderhostel participants shows that the majority of people in the Boomer age group are willing to pay tuition for a degree in social responsibility disciplines. Extrapolation of the research results shows evidence that between 3 million and ten million Boomers are in a prime position to go to a continuing education program.“
“Eighty seven percent (87%) of The University of Montana and sixty seven (67%) of Elderhostel respondents favor tax credits for training and/or working in public or community service jobs. There is also a segment of volunteer tourism that is growing steadily where some of the program expenses are tax deductible,” noted Harwood.
For more information and in-depth discussion, please contact Dr. Ann Harwood at (406) 880-3089 or email [email protected].
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