AccScience Publishing / IJPS / Volume 9 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.36922/ijps.375
Cite this article
41
Download
1443
Views
Journal Browser
Volume | Year
Issue
Search
News and Announcements
View All
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Barriers to learning at a U3A in Lebanon: A structurationist perspective

Hany Hachem1* Marvin Formosa2
Show Less
1 Department of Education, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
2 Department of Gerontology and Dementia Studies, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, University of Malta, Msida MSD, Malta
IJPS 2023, 9(3), 1–14; https://doi.org/10.36922/ijps.375
Submitted: 27 September 2022 | Accepted: 29 September 2023 | Published: 6 November 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Active Ageing and Educational Gerontology)
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ )
Abstract

This study examines the barriers older learners experience at a University for the Third Age (U3A) in Lebanon. Contemporary literature often categorizes these barriers into dispositional, situational, and institutional realms, arising as individual or structural phenomena. This article envisages barriers as the (un)intended consequences of (inter)actions among different institutional agents — namely, learners, teachers, and administrators — within the learning environment. Following Anthony Giddens’ dualistic understanding of agency and structure, the article aims to transcend the typical dichotomic approach in understanding barriers older persons face when engaging in lifelong learning. Shedding light on this new perspective on barriers as (un)intended consequences of agents’ (inter)actions at the U3A, this work raises two research questions: (i) what barriers confront older learners when engaging in non-formal learning? Moreover, (ii) taking older learners’ perspective, how are these barriers (re)produced in the (inter)actions of different institutional agents? Following a reflexive deductive thematic analysis of interview data with ten members at a U3A in Lebanon, this article generates two types of barriers. First, barriers as outcomes of interactions involving learners with teachers and administrators (curricula issues, teachers and teaching methods, language of instruction, class protocol, and accessibility). Second, barriers as outcomes of interactions involving learners (unwillingness and inability to socialize, as well as social bias and prejudice). This paper concludes that the actions of institutional agents at the U3A (re)produce its modus vivendi and modus operandi and calls for the promotion of continuous dialog and reflexivity as countermeasures against bias and exclusion to enhance the U3A’s age-friendliness.

Keywords
Lifelong learning
Older adult education
Barriers
Age-friendly university
Educational gerontology
Structuration theory
Funding
European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie
References

Bjursell, C. (2019). Inclusion in education later in life: Why older adults engage in education activities? European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 10(3):215-230. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela20192

 

Boulton-Lewis, G., Aird, R., & Buys, L. (2016). Older Australians: Structural barriers to learning in later life. Current Aging Science, 9(3):188-195. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874609809666160506122131

 

Brady, E.M., Cardale, A., & Neidy J.C. (2013). The quest for community in Osher lifelong learning institutes. Educational Gerontology, 39(9):627-639. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2012.734147

 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2019). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 11(4):589-597.https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2019.1628806

 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). Can I use TA? Should I use TA? Should I not use TA? Comparing reflexive thematic analysis and other pattern‐based qualitative analytic approaches. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 21(1):37-47. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12360

 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2022). One size fits all? What counts as quality practice in (reflexive) thematic analysis? Qualitative Research in Psychology, 18(3):328-352. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2020.1769238

 

Bužgová, R., Kozáková, R., Bobčíková, K., & Kubešová, H.M. (2023). The importance of the university of the third age to improved mental health and healthy aging of community-dwelling older adults. Educational Gerontology, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2023.2240663

 

Byrne, D. (2022). A worked example of Braun and Clarke’s approach to reflexive thematic analysis. Quality and Quantity, 56:1391-1412. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-021-01182-y

 

Cross, P.K. (1981). Adults as Learners. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

 

Darkenwald, G.G., & Merriam, S.B. (1982). Adult Education: Foundations of Practice. New York: Harper and Row.

 

Findsen, B., & Formosa, M. (2011). Lifelong Learning in Later Life: A Handbook on Older Adult Learning. Vol. 7. Germany: Springer Science and Business Media.

 

Findsen, B., & Formosa, M. (2016a). Introduction. In: International Perspectives on Older Adult Education: Research, Policies, Practices. New York: Springer, p.1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24939-1

 

Findsen, B., & Formosa, M. (2016b). Concluding remarks. In: International Perspectives on Older Adult Education: Research, Policies, Practices. New York: Springer, p.507-519. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24939-1

 

Formosa, M. (2006). A Bourdieusian interpretation of the university of the third age in Malta. Journal of Maltese Education Research, 4(2):1-16.

 

Formosa, M. (2019a). Educational gerontology. In: Gu, D., & Dupre, M.E. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Ageing. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p.1564-1571. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_411-1

 

Formosa, M. (2019b). Active ageing in the fourth age: The experiences and perspectives of older persons in long-term care. Geopolitical Social Security and Freedom Journal, 2(1):78-92. https://doi.org/10.2478/gssfj-2019-0008

 

Formosa, M. (2019c). Active ageing through lifelong learning: The university of the third age. In: The University of the Third Age and Active Ageing: European and Asian-Pacific Perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p.3-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-21515-6

 

Formosa, M. (2019d). Third age learning for active ageing in Malta: Successes and limitations. In: The University of the Third Age and active ageing: European and Asian-Pacific perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p.81-93. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-21515-6

 

Formosa, M. (2019e). Concluding remarks and future prospects. In: The University of the Third Age and active ageing: European and Asian-Pacific perspectives. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p.259-272. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-21515-6

 

Formosa, M. (2021a). Learning opportunities for older persons in residential long-term care: A systematic review. In: Mikulec, B., Kump, S., & Košmerl, T. (eds.). Reflections on adult education and learning: The adult education legacy of Sabina Jelenc Krašovec. Ljubljana: Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana University Press, p.109-122.

 

Formosa, M. (2021b). “Why doesn’t this feel inclusive?” A feminist poststructuralist study of older women learners. Global Lifelong Learning, 1(2):15-35.

 

Formosa, M. (2021c). Late-life learning and older women learners: A feminist commentary. Gender and Research, 22(1):178-200. https://doi.org/10.13060/gav.2021.007

 

Formosa, M. (2021d). From invisibility to inclusion: Opening the doors for older men at the University of the Third Age in Malta. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 43(4):443-455. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2021.1913413

 

Formosa, M. (2021e). Building evidence for the impact of older adult learning on active ageing: A quantitative study. Studies in Adult Education and Learning, 27(2):1-22. https://doi.org/10.4312/as/9934

 

Formosa, M. (2021f). Manifestations of internalized ageism in older adult learning. University of Toronto Quarterly, 90(2):169-182. https://doi.org/10.3138/utq.90.2.08

 

Formosa, M. (2022). Fourth age learning for persons living with dementia. In: Evans, K., Lee, W.O., Markowitsch, J., & Zukas, M. (eds.). Third International Handbook of Lifelong Learning. Cham: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67930-9_50-1

 

Giddens, A. (1976). New Rules of Sociological Method: A Positive Critique of Interpretative Sociologies. London: Hutchinson.

 

Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. California: University of California Press.

 

Hachem, H. (2022a). Ask them why: Older learners’ motivational reasons for learning at a university for the third age. Studies in the Education of Adults, 55(1):82-100. https://doi.org/10.1080/02660830.2022.2040347

 

Hachem, H. (2022b). Zooming in on life politics: Identity and reflexivity in a university for the third age. Adult Learning, 33(1):32-39. https://doi.org/10.1177/10451595211024576

 

Hachem, H. (2023). Educating Older Adults: Theoretical and Empirical Examinations of the Learning Philosophies in Older Age (Doctoral Dissertation, Örebro University). Available from: https://oru.diva-portal.org/smash/record. jsf?pid=diva2%3A1718479&dswid=-3866 [Last accessed on 2023 Apr 14].

 

Hachem, H., & Manninen, J. (2020). Putting educational gerontology principles to the test: A quantitative confirmation of the empowering benefits of liberal arts courses. Educational Gerontology, 46(10):653-665. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2020.1805179

 

Hachem, H., & Vuopala, E. (2016). Older adults, in Lebanon, committed to learning: Contextualizing the challenges and the benefits of their learning experience. Educational Gerontology, 42(10):686-697. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2016.1218204

 

Hachem, H., Nikkola, E., & Zaidan, A. (2017). The case of educational gerontology in Lebanon: A harbinger of empowerment, emancipation and social change? International Journal of Lifelong Education, 36(6):713-729. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2017.1379565

 

Hansen, R.J., & Brady, E.M. (2013). Research in the Osher lifelong learning institute network. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 61(3):143-150. https://doi.org/10.1080/07377363.2013.836812

 

Hansen, R.J., Brady, E.M., & Thaxton, S.P. (2016). Demographic and behavioral characteristics of Osher lifelong learning institute members. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 64(1):42-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/07377363.2016.1131541

 

Hansen, R.J., Talmage, C.A., Thaxton, S.P., & Knopf, R.C. (2019). Barriers to age-friendly universities (AFU): Lessons from Osher lifelong learning institute demographics and perceptions. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 40(2):221-243. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2019.1572003

 

Hu, H.M. (2023). A qualitative study on why older adults may be reluctant to participate in learning activities. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/14779714231191354

 

Maginess, T. (2017). Enhancing the Wellbeing and Wisdom of Older Learners. A Co-researched Paradigm. London: Routledge.

 

McAllister, C. (2018). Developing inclusive later life learning environments: Insights form intersectional analysis of ageing and lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual identities. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 9(1):45-60. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela9105

 

Montayre, J., Maneze, D., Salamonson, Y., Tan, J.D.L., & Possamai- Inesedy, A. (2022). The making of age-friendly universities: A scoping review. Gerontologist, 63(8):1311-1319. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnac084

 

Montepare, J.M. (2019). Introduction to the special issue-age-friendly universities (AFU): Principles, practices, and opportunities. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 40(2):139-141. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2019.1591848

 

Montepare, J.M., Farah, K.S., Bloom, S.F., & Tauriac, J. (2020). Age-friendly universities (AFU): Possibilities and power in campus connections. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 41(3):273-280. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2020.1726744

 

Montepare, J.M., Farah, K.S., Doyle, A., & Dixon, J. (2019). Becoming an age-friendly university (AFU): Integrating a retirement community on campus. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 40(2):179-193. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2019.1586682

 

O’Kelly, C. (2022). Developing the age-friendly university global network. In: Gardiner, C.M., & Webb, E.O. (eds.). The Age-friendly Lens. New York: Routledge, p.74-88.

 

Patterson, R., Moffatt, S., Smith, M., Scott, J., Mcloughlin, C., Bell, J., et al. (2016). Exploring social inclusivity within the university of the third age (U3A): A model of collaborative research. Ageing and Society, 36(8):1580-1603. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X15000550

 

Purdie, N., & Boulton-Lewis, G. (2003). The learning needs of older adults. Educational Gerontology, 29(2):129-149. https://doi.org/10.1080/713844281

 

Silverstein, N.M., Choi, L.H., & Bulot, J.J. (2002). Older learners on campus. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 22(1):13-30. https://doi.org/10.1300/J021v22n01_02

 

Von Humboldt, S. (2016). Conceptual and Methodological Issues on the Adjustment to Aging. Perspectives on Aging Well. New York: Springer.

 

Wang, R., De Donder, L., De Backer, F., Triquet, K., Shihua, L., Honghui, P., et al. (2018). Exploring the association of learning participation with the quality of life of older Chinese adults: A mixed methods approach. Educational Gerontology, 44(5-6):378-390. https://doi.org/10.1080/03601277.2018.1481185

Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Share
Back to top
International Journal of Population Studies, Electronic ISSN: 2424-8606 Print ISSN: 2424-8150, Published by AccScience Publishing