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AARP Survey on Lifelong Learning

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In the first national survey of its kind of learning preferences among Americans age 50 and older, researchers from AARP found that:

  • Older learners prefer methods that are easy to access, require small investments of time and money to get started, and allow learning to begin immediately.

  • For most of those surveyed, the best way to learn is through direct, hands-on experience; nearly all say they learn best by putting their hands on something, playing with it, listening to it, watching it, and finally thinking about it.

  • Newspapers, magazines, books and journals are most often the tools used for learning by 64% of age 50+ individuals.

  • Older adults are interested in learning to keep up with what's going on in the world, for their own spiritual or personal growth, and/or for the simple joy of learning something new.

  • Older learners are most interested in subjects that would improve the quality of their lives, build upon a current skill, or enable them to take better care of their health. Most want to use what they have learned right away or in the near future; very few are willing to wait longer.

The survey of 1,019 Americans age 50 and over was conducted during late August and early September 1999. Of those participating, 508 were interviewed by phone and 511 were surveyed on the Internet. (146 pages)

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