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Gerontol Geriatr Educ. 2005;26(2):69-79.

The influence of instruction on college students' attitudes toward older adults.

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School of Family and Consumer Sciences, 600 E Lincoln Ave, Klehm Hall, Charleston, IL, 61920, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of three college courses on attitude change toward older adults. To measure attitude change the Kogan Attitudes Toward Old People Scale (1961) was administered to 221 college students at the beginning and end of the semester. Participants were enrolled in one of three college courses: Child Development, Human Development, and Aging and the Family. The three courses varied in content regarding older adults and the aging process. Findings revealed that students' negative attitudes toward older adults significantly decreased after taking the Aging and the Family class. It appeared that a combination of factors and teaching techniques lessened students' negative attitudes. The lecture-based course included small group discussion, problem- solving activities, participation in an aging awareness simulation activity, an interview with an older adult, and covering a wide variety of topics related to aging. The Human Development class, which included a twoweek segment on aging issues did lessen students' negative attitudes toward older adults, however, their attitudes did not become more positive as a result of the course. There was no significant change in students' attitudes in the Child Development class. However, there was no difference expected given that this class acted as the control group and no class time was given to aging issues. Further exploration into exactly what lessens negative attitudes as well as what increases positive attitudes is critical to assisting educators in planning and evaluating interventions that target improving attitudes toward older adults.

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