Effects of an Interdisciplinary Gerontology Course on First-Year Undergraduate Students

by Christine Caroline Merz

Institution: Washington University in St. Louis
Year: 2015
Keywords: gerontology education, attitudes toward older adults, aging, gerontology, knowledge of aging, older adults; Other Psychology; Psychology
Record ID: 2062135
Full text PDF: http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/art_sci_etds/401



This study evaluated the impact of an interdisciplinary course on aging designed to improve attitudes toward older adults and aging, and generate interest in aging-related careers. Main outcomes included knowledge of older adults and aging, attitudes toward older adults and aging, and anxiety about personal aging. Participants included first-year undergraduate students enrolled in the course (curricular intervention group) and first-year undergraduate students not enrolled in the course (control group). Data were collected at the beginning and end of one semester. At the end of the semester curricular intervention students had increased in their knowledge about aging and showed more positive explicit attitudes toward older adults, but they had no changes in implicit attitudes or anxiety about aging. As expected, control participants showed no changes in any outcomes. These findings suggest that objective knowledge of aging and explicit attitudes improve with curricular intervention, but implicit attitudes and anxiety might be more difficult to change.