Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 3517-3520
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1785
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
The Jaume I University created in 1998 the Senior Citizens’ University (SCU), in Castellón, Spain aimed to senior learners from 55 years old. Nowadays, 998 students take part in this education programme, with an average age of 67. The University is offering tailored-made courses to senior learners with the main aim to promote an active ageing, inclusion and participation in society from the perspective of a lifelong learning attitude.

Among the courses and other extra-academic activities we offer to the senior learners, during a whole academic year they have to work in grouns to write about a certain topic of their interest. We do not aim this work to be completelly innovative, but to provide new perspecitves or ideas about any topic they consider interesting, present of past, cultural, socilogicial, or artistic, not restricted to any area of knowledge. One tutor of the SCU helps them, althouth they are a self-organised team.

We aimed to research what makes collaborative learning a success when there is not a degree or work-related requirement. Note that senior learners (retired) are learning because they want to be active, to be up-to-date and learn about new things they like.

101 students were interviewed after they have been participating in this collaborative activity. 47% of respondants said that this has been a Very possitive experience, and 45% a positive experience (8 % said it was neutral, negative or very negative experience). We wanted to go further and know what made this a positive experience and on the other side, what made it negative. Also for us it was important to know the optimus conditions, but also the skills learnt and some recommendations for future activities.

Based on existing research of collaborative teamks efectiveness indicators, and life skills assesment research, through focus-groups and quantitative surveys we concluded that students consider the most important ability to work in a group to be empathy, whereas the management of emotions is the least, with the greatest variation (i.e., there is not so much consensus). Decision making and overcoming stress is not a skill that is important, nor has it been learned.

Among the most related, it could be said that for a student to consider that it has been a positive experience, the following requirements must be met: decisions by consensus, positive criticism and peer learning (constructive debate, open communication and consensus decisions).

Learning to relate to learn and collaborate are skills that are highly correlated with their consciousness counterparts (e.g., those who emphasize the importance of emotion management are those who have learned most about interpersonal skills). It would therefore seem that those students who are more aware of the need to relate, adapt and learn from their environment (analyse and understand it) are those who will learn the most later. The above, along with the ability to develop empathy are key to the success of a collaborative educational program.

The proposal is therefore to promote a motivation to the student based on context and the need for improvement, together with key concepts of communication, which, although not directly related to learned skills or other variables, is related to interpersonal skills, empathy, and understanding of the environment, which would lead to an increase in these and greater learning by the student; peer learning, new points of view, positive experience.
Senior learners, lifelong learning, collaboration, soft skills.