Lasting Expressions: A Case Study of Lifelong Learners in a Life-Story Process

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Title: Lasting Expressions: A Case Study of Lifelong Learners in a Life-Story Process
Author: Lohr, Kathy Diane
Advisors: Colleen Wiessner, Committee Chair
Abstract: Starting in 2012, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 years of age every day and by 2030, 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 and older. Considering that adult education has historically responded to individual and societal needs, it is understandable that there is a need to focus on this growing group of older learners. How will these adults find meaning and how can education enhance their later years? At the root of this research is the premise that creating legacy is a developmental need of older adults. Capturing one's life experiences in story form is one type of legacy. The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of a specific life-story process and the insights emerging for the writers involved. Ten lifelong learners who completed a life-story writing course and joined a life-story writers' group affiliated with a learning-in-retirement program participated in this qualitative case study. Two research questions were answered through interviews, stories, observations, and field notes: How does composing and sharing of life events impact a writer's stories written as personal legacy? And, what insights emerge for writers engaged in this specific process intended to create legacy? The Writing-to-Remember process impacted each writer's understanding of specific life experiences. Memories and compositions were revisited and revised throughout the process. Issues of truthfulness, audience influence, and entertainment were major themes. Insights emerging reflected four characteristics of Tornstram's gerotranscendence model (1997) including a connection to earlier generations, an acceptance of the mystery of life, a decrease in self-centeredness, and a move from duality to plurality.
Date: 2008-08-11
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Community College Education

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