Co-authors: Takako Otabe and Harumi Kagawa
Recently, the population has been rapidly ageing, especially in developed countries. In regard to the elderly, learning plays an important role in improving their quality of life and connecting to the society. However, the contributions of sciences including astronomy have not been considered in previous studies on elderly education.
It has been recognized that the learning needs of the elderly is different from that of the younger generations. Moreover, educational methods that are effective with younger generations may not be equally favored by the elderly. We are therefore investigating the needs of older learners for learning astronomy and their preferred learning strategies.
Based on the findings, and contrary to previous theories, elderly learners are simply enjoying learning itself and aiming to broaden their perspectives through learning. In this respect, astronomy education could contribute by satisfying the curiosity of elderly learners and making their learning experience fulfilling and meaningful. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that the elderly prefer traditional lectures in the classroom rather than learning with the latest audiovisual materials.
We would like to discuss how the astronomy education community can contribute to the active ageing of elderly learners, in the near future, by using a range of strategies matched to their needs and characteristics.