A Narrative Inquiry and Self–Study of Practice Investigation into Experiences with Older Adults and Aging via an Online College–Level Gerontology Course
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The population of older adults in the United States is increasing to new heights. Society members trained in gerontological education, health care of elders, and service providers for older adults will be needed in the next few decades. However, myths and misconceptions about older adults and aging might inhibit college–level students from choosing careers where they would interact primarily with older adults. Gerontological education may be an important tool for increasing and enhancing the experiences that students have with older adults and aging. This study comprised a narrative inquiry into the experiences of college students with older adults and aging within an online gerontology course that included directed interactions with an elder. I collected data from college students and from college–level educators in gerontology. I also made use of the self–study of practice methods to inquire into my identity and the identified practice problem of the discussion board. The findings of this investigation shed light on possible tensions in students’ perceptions about aging and older adults in relation to their willingness or capacity to engage in future work with older adults. I also highlighted the perspectives of faculty participants on ways to improve instruction in this area and possible institutional stories of resistance to gerontological education. In addition, I raised factors shaping my own teaching approaches, including my use of the discussion board for online teaching. I paired narrative inquiry with self–study of practice methods which may have implications for other educators and teacher educators who are interested in knowing how their own teaching practices are experienced while gaining insight into broader experiences and interactions in a classroom setting. In addition, gerontological educators, especially nurse educators, and online educators may find this narrative inquiry study beneficial. This multi–faceted investigation brought together perspectives and practices from the professions of nursing, education, and gerontology into a study that focused on narrative inquiry and self–study of practice methodologies. Readers from diverse backgrounds may find this study useful as a model for development of creative interdisciplinary work.
Table of Contents
Introduction: the rough edges of aging -- Theoretical framework -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Stories of personal practical knowledge and S-STTEP -- Data analysis and discussion -- Findings of colleague participant data -- Insights into experiences of gerontological education -- Conclusion -- Appendix A. The aging course syllabus -- Appendix B. Journal entry protocol -- Appendix C. Discussion board questions -- Appendix D. Student consent for participation in a research study form -- Appendix E. Colleague consent for participation in a research study form -- Appendix F. Semi-structured colleague participant interview question list -- Appendix G. Student demographic questionnaire