Learning as Leisure: Motivation and Outcome in Adult Free Time Learning


  • Amy E. Lorek Dattilo
  • Alan Ewart
  • John Dattilo


Casual and serious leisure, adult learning, motivation, Education Participation Scale (EPS)


The growth and popularity of programs associated with adult learning and leisure indicate a need to systematically examine these programs. Researchers have begun to explore how adults experience their learning, their leisure, and a combination of the two (Cleaver & Muller, 2002; Lipschultz, Hilt, & Reilly, 2007; Ziegler, 2002). Previous research has primarily focused on adults in formal educational settings (e.g., universities and colleges) and the perspective of the instructor (Kim & Merriam, 2004; Taylor & Caldarelli, 2004). Understanding participant motivational orientations in recreational and nonformal settings and their perceived outcomes is likely to provide insights into age and experience related differences in service provision. A multimethod design was used including a modified version of Boshier’s Education Participation Scale (EPS A-Form; Boshier, 1991) and follow-up semistructured telephone interviews with a smaller sample group. Factor analysis procedures produced three primary motivational orientations: Social Contact, Cognitive Interest, and Social Stimulation. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) procedures were performed with age and experience differences and the three motivational orientations. Results indicated that motivational orientations were different between younger and older adults, as well as with people who were enrolled in courses, which tended to be repeated and people who were in classes typically taken only once. Interview responses addressing participation perceived outcomes were grouped into three primary themes: interpersonal (e.g., meeting new people and making contact with social groups), intrapersonal (e.g., pursing interests, enrichment, physical and mental health, and enjoyment), and personal well-being (e.g., activation and deactivation of individual processes). Findings from this study indicated that the leisure learning experience was important and valued by participants, and findings offer support for practitioners attempting to develop a rationale for offering adult leisure learning opportunities. Findings may also be useful for offering different types of adult leisure learning experiences: repeater (continuous, contiguous) and single session (or short) courses.





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