Toolkit to Improve the Education Offered to Senior Citizens

Photo: Elderly students

Learning throughout life is the best choice for elderly people to learn to adapt and integrate into the social context; © EduSenior

The research group coordinated by Salvador Cabedo at the Universitat Jaume I (UJI), associated with the Senior Citizens’ University, has designed a toolkit to evaluate institutions that offer education to citizens over 65 years old within the framework of the cooperation project EduSenior funded by the EU’s Lifelong Learning Programme.

"The project EduSenior can be used as an evaluation and accreditation system for an educational institution but also to improve its quality and for other institutions, researchers and associations to be aware of the potential of education in the elderly and to help implement similar actions,” explained the coordinator of the UJI Senior Citizens’ University, Pilar Escuder Mollón. The toolkit will now be validated in all the institutions involved in the project and some external ones. After validation, the partners will publish an improved version.

In 2020 a quarter of the EU population will be over 65. Given this reality, the aging of the population should not be seen as a problem but as a challenge that can be dealt with positively, said UJI researcher Roger Esteller Curto. "In this sense, learning throughout life is the best choice for elderly people to learn to adapt and integrate into the social context," added the researcher.

The group of educational institutions offering programmes aimed at elderly learners grows progressively. It is an integrative and social training that teaches in attitudes, skills and knowledge to achieve a better quality of life, more integration and active citizenship. The impact is positive both in the lives of the students as in their environment. However, senior education presents enormous challenges regarding pedagogy, assessment, content and suitable models for a heterogeneous public whose motivation is largely personal.

Based on this need, in November 2011 the two-year European project EduSenior began, coordinated by the Universitat Jaume I, with the participation of six European universities and senior educational institutions from Finland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria.

The first phase of this project involved a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between education and quality in elderly students. In the second phase a toolkit was developed for the evaluation of educational institutions. This toolkit consists of two main products: a guide and the evaluation toolkit.

The guide introduces the concepts of quality of life, pedagogies, models and courses to be taken into account in this type of educational programme. This guide is also addressed to people who want to learn more about this education such as researchers, managers, facilitators and trainers, as well as the relationship between different factors and measures to improve it. The guide provides, in addition to introductory and theoretical chapters, a practical approach, experiences and good practices, as well as local information.

The second component of this toolkit is the assessment tool which details 38 indicators. Each indicator has a justification for its impact and need, some criteria that must be met and recommendations. The indicators are linked to the guide, as each is located in one or more educational and quality of life dimensions. The partners have defined seven educational dimensions and seven quality of life dimensions.

This assessment tool can be applied by an external evaluator for the accreditation of an institution, but its main goal is to help improve the quality of an educational institution in its impact on the quality of life of senior learners. It explains from a strategic and conceptual level to an operative level the different skills, processes, pedagogies and courses that must be implemented in these centres.

Each indicator provides together with the assessment requirements, a series of recommendations that can be useful for an educational institution depending on its goals, revealing the educational dimensions that can be improved and quality of life dimensions likely to be affected.

"The quality of life is a goal pursued both individually, socially and politically. Education can be helpful if designed and implemented in an appropriate manner. In case of people whose basic needs are met, their quality of life is influenced largely by subjective factors. At any point of life there are changes on a personal level, but also in the environment that require an understanding and adaptation or control. Elderly citizens have particular requirements and specific risks such as exclusion, loneliness or depression, but also positive features and enormous potential," the researchers concluded.; Source: Asociación RUVID

More about the Asociación RUVID at:
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