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Overcoming age barriers: motivation for mature adults’ engagement in education

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Education is the main vehicle for empowering adults, and can contribute to community wellbeing. However, regarding mature adults (MAs) (over 45 years old), age has been identified in various studies as a significant barrier to accessing educational activities. This paper focuses on MAs’ motivations to learn through an exploratory survey undertaken in six European countries. A K-means cluster analysis based on 16 variables has been run on n = 846 valid cases. Four clusters describing distinctive behaviours and attitudes of MAs towards learning activities were identified. The study confirms that MAs’ motivations to learn are very diverse, overcoming some of the so-called myths of global aging, such as the homogeneity of MAs or the correlation between age and a decline in motivation to learn. Furthermore, analysing the main motivations of MA learners can be useful for adapting education to cater to their specific needs, boosting a more inclusive education, and promoting MAs’ empowerment.
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Keywords: Mature adults; age; education; empowerment; motivation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Familia, Barcelona, Spain 2: Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain 3: Department of Social Work, TEI of Crete, Heraklion, Greece

Publication date: July 4, 2018

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