Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Louise L. MacKay, Kathryn K. Franklin, Harold Lee Daniels


As we enter the 21st century our population of elderly citizens is growing at a rate never seen before in our history. With the baby boomers retiring, society is realizing the vast potential of untapped resources. These individuals are also seeking opportunities to remain as active and engaged members of their communities.

The purpose of this study was to examine the motivations for lifelong learning in the life of Hendrika "Henny" Schuster, an 81-year-old resident of Abingdon, Virginia. Her life story is presented in a narrative form and in a thematically organized chronological format. Interviews were conducted and recorded. These tapes were transcribed and analyzed to determine themes. Additional information was collected from personal journals, scrapbooks, and newspaper and magazine articles and photographs. The importance of family, formal educational opportunities, the influence of others, selfdirected study, and involvement in community all emerged as motivating themes in her pursuit of lifelong learning opportunities. For Henny, the factors identified as barriers to her quest included the internal stressors of family, gender, culture, and educational opportunities.

Recommendations include the need to not only provide more educational opportunities for adult learners but also ensure that such opportunities are readily accessible. It is suggested that future studies look at the roles of gender and culture in regard to the ever changing populace and the global view of our world. There is a need to continue studies such as this in which older adult learners are provided opportunities to reflect on their experiences. Insight for learners of all ages can be gained from such studies.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.