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An approach to computer literacy for older adults

Charles Clark Richmond, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The “Computers for KlutzesSM” computer literacy course developed by this author and successfully used for teaching more than 500 older and many impaired adults during the past five years is the basis for this dissertation. Educational literature about how best to teach the returning adult and several prominent theories such as constructivism and Vygotskyism are examined for helpful ideas. Because this literature and these theories were formulated for students much younger than those to be taught during the research newer theories were clearly needed. The literature research revealed that the educational community's returning adult's average age seemed to be in the 30 to 40 year range. People in this age range are well below the chronological age for the subjects of this dissertation. A wealth of research has been performed at the behest of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) on individual traits e.g. dynamic and static memory, motor skills, and type face preference. Only since the early 1990s has in-depth research on our aging population been performed. This research was used as a guide on how best to teach the aging adult. This writer prepared special texts and materials that closely follow the NIA findings, more recent educational papers, and news articles. The results of this research prove the value of applying both the psychological research as performed for NIA and the educational research done by the educational community. Student and instructor evaluations of these special learning materials, special teaching methods, and learning environment reveal the usefulness of this wealth of information. In all cases, the students, when motivated to accept the instructions became capable of working with a computer. Tables of characteristics help one to classify the placement of individuals into one of the three levels of literacy needs.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Adult education|Continuing education|Gerontology

Recommended Citation

Richmond, Charles Clark, "An approach to computer literacy for older adults" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9978543.