AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 30. Education and Instrumentation
Oral, Monday, June 4, 2001, 2:00-3:30pm, C212-214

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[30.02] Later Life Learners: A Significant and Receptive Audience for Introductory Astronomy

J. R. Percy, M. Krstovic (U. Toronto)

``Later life learners" (LLL: generally age 65 or older) are a subset of ``life long learners"; both form a large, influential, and receptive audience for courses in introductory astronomy. This year alone, one of us (JRP) has taught two LLL courses of almost 200 ``students" each. In previous years, he has taught several other such courses (as well as courses for life long learners in general). Each course has its own personality, but the students all tend to be interested and highly interactive, bringing a wealth of life experience to the course. They are also influential in that the students provide a strong link with the community, and they tend to have a very positive and supportive attitude to scholarship and research, and to colleges and universities.

Yet these courses are rather neglected in terms of educational research, and resources such as textbooks. In this paper, we discuss the nature of LLL courses, and the motivations for teaching them. We present anecdotal comments on the nature of the learners, and results based on questionnaires about their interests and their reactions to the courses. We encourage other astronomy educators to make contact with LLL groups in their community, with a view to offering a course.

Thanks to the Ontario Work-Study Program for supporting this project.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jpercy@erin.utoronto.ca

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