Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Russell O. Mays

Committee Members

Russell F. West, Louise L. MacKay, Joy Wachs


As a growing population ventures forth into the 21st century, people are living longer than ever before. Recent statistics indicate an ever-increasing adult population. With a larger and older population, communities will find themselves striving to ensure a high quality of life for these persons. Individuals, as well, will find themselves seeking out activities that will keep them actively involved and engaged in their post-retirement years.

The purpose of this biographical study was to explore the motivations for lifelong learning and engagement in the life of Evelyn McQueen Cook, a seventy-five year-old resident of Johnson County, Tennessee. Her life is presented in the context of an educational narrative and analyzed within the contextual and theoretical framework of lifelong learning. Data were collected through a series of interviews with the subject. Interviews were recorded and tapes of the interviews were transcribed. Using interpretative analysis, data were examined to determine themes. Further information was collected through photographs, postcards, letters, and certificates. Findings were presented thematically within a chronological context.

The importance of family, formal educational opportunities, the influence of teachers, the opportunity to travel extensively, self-directed learning, cultural experiences, career choices, and involvement in community all emerged as strong motivations for pursuit and engagement in learning opportunities over the span of her life. Financial concerns, lack of confidence, ability, or interest, long-held beliefs or feelings, loneliness and a sense of isolation, gender and being an only child, and age all emerged as distracters or barriers to learning.

Recommendations included the need to provide adults more opportunities that allowed them to reflect upon their educational experiences, both formal and informal. Specific recommendations were noted for predominately rural communities. A need for further educational biographies was also suggested.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.