Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gyant, LaVerne

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


This qualitative research explored why older people do not participate in formal and nonformal education. This study focused on older adults who have not participated in formal or nonformal education since their retirement. Recent studies have shown that participation in formal and nonformal educational activities is an effective way to maintain and enhance cognitive health. The study identified unique individual experiences that influenced the decision-making process regarding participation in educational activities—related to personal interests, commitments, previous academic achievements, classroom environment, benefits derived from participation, and financial considerations. Study participants were involved in daily activities that they believed would help them maintain mental health. These activities included reading, solving puzzles, memory games, hobbies, and researching topics of interest using the internet; the effectiveness of each of these activities in the maintenance or improvement of cognition is undetermined. These activities, combined with personal commitments, took up most of their time. Current research suggests that transformational learning is a cognitively stimulating activity (CSA) that effectively maintains or improves mental health. Formal and nonformal educational activities are a good source of cognitively stimulating activities. Study participants were not aware of the mental health benefits derived from CSAs and would not be willing to allocate time to them unless recommended by a recognized authority.


119 pages




Northern Illinois University

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