This study examines an Introduction to Gerontology course for undergraduate students that integrates experiential and collaborative learning experiences as part of a general course requirement. Experiential learning encourages students to go outside of the classroom and learn about aging from an older person in a field setting. The collaborative group approach is designed to have peers work together in the course. This study used qualitative methods to examine undergraduates’ learning experiences as a result of participation in a multiple-interview and groupwork-based project through their enrollment in the Introduction to Gerontology course. Content analysis was used to analyze multiple sources of data produced by the 43 students enrolled. Data were retrieved from students’ self-reflections in open-ended questionnaires and blinded course evaluations along with the authors’ own observational work. Findings indicate that students benefited from the experiential component which served to dispel stereotypes and preconceived ideas about older persons, though that did not necessarily translate into generating students’ interest in making gerontology a career path. Collaborative work, although seen generally as positive, had some mixed results based on students’ roles in the group and dynamics of a few groups. Issues of some student roles in the group unexpectedly not meeting with the older person are also discussed along with the impact of the project upon the community-partnered organization.
Ramsey, A., Mendoza, A., & Weil, J. (2014). Using Experiential and Collaborative Methods with Undergraduates and Older Persons as part of an Introduction to Gerontology Course. PRISM: A Journal of Regional Engagement, 3 (1). Retrieved from http://encompass.eku.edu/prism/vol3/iss1/1