Captivating Lifelong Learners in the Third Age: Lessons Learned From a University-Based Institute

Craig A. Talmage, R. Geoffrey Lacher, Mikulas Pstross, Richard Knopf, Karla A. Burkhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The prevalence of learning providers for third agers continues to expand alongside the growth of the older adult population, yet there remains little empirical evidence on what types of learning experiences are most desired by lifelong learners. This article examines the effects that different learning topics have on attendance at classes hosted by a university-based lifelong learning institute, asking, Which learning topics draw enrollment in a lifelong learning program? Registration data were collected from 7,332 attendees of 290 learning experiences held over four semesters; class topics were coded and analyzed using a multivariate regression procedure. Results indicate that lifelong learners are more interested in classes concerning global issues, religion/philosophy, and social issues focusing on particular groups and individuals. The results remain significant after accounting for structural arrangements such as class time, day of the week, number of sessions, and location. Implications for enhancing lifelong learning experiences and programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-249
Number of pages18
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015


  • adult education
  • adult learners
  • lifelong learning
  • older adults
  • positive aging
  • third age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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