In an undergraduate level course addressing adult development and aging, students were asked within the first week of class to examine and articulate their expectations of individuals of differing ages and genders. The students were asked to develop a comprehensive picture that described what life tasks, personality characteristics, personal goals, relationship issues, and work issues they expected would be important to each person. Students were also instructed to describe how they expected (based only upon their preexisting opinion and experience) such individuals would cope with issues related to health, identity, or work. Students were then asked to interview one person of each of the six age group/gender categories that they had previously described, comparing and contrasting interview findings with previously articulated expectations. Results suggested that students emerged from this experience with a more complex and open understanding of people who were not members of their own age group. The proportion of undergraduates whose expectations were not met increased (p &.05) in the middle-aged and older target groups relative to the young adult target group. It is argued that this experience helps students to not only be more sensitive to their own biases based upon age, but also to be more cognizant of individual differences among middle-aged and older adults.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology