Evaluation of the effect of a literature-based unit designed to enhance the attitudes of primary grade children toward the elderly Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2j62s929v

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  • This research investigated the effect of a literature-based unit on subjects' in primary grades attitudes toward the elderly and aging. The experiment followed a pretest/posttest design; covariates derived from three separate survey portions were compared with respective postmeasure scores. Other research on young children's attitudes toward aging suggests that ageist attitudes may begin when children first perceive distinctions of age and learn expectations for old age; thus, as the proportion of elderly people in our society continues to increase, so does the need for accurate information and realistic attitudes toward aging. Both experimental and control subjects responded to an attitude survey in Fall, 1986. Of the 201 children in this sample, slightly more than half had limited contact with persons age 65 and over. Experimental subjects participated in a six-lesson unit; subsequently, experimental and control groups were post-tested. Comparison of scores from pre and post measures indicated no statistically significant differences in attitude scores; neither the treatment, grade level, nor the interaction of these variables were associated with significant differences. Subjects' responses to surveys were also examined for qualitative information. Of 368 statements obtained through the evaluative portion, approximately one-quarter described old age in positive terms, while 51% characterized old age as being unpleasant. The mode for two-thirds of the measures in the Likert-type scale was the neutral option, but there was strong positive agreement with socially desirable statements. Percentages for selected descriptors in the semantic differential portion were ranked, and comparisons drawn between preferred-item descriptors and generalizations derived through the other two survey portions. A research limitation was that reliability of the attitude survey instrument was low. Possible explanations for the quantitative results of the research include the experimental treatment itself, instrumentation, and immaturity of subjects. The conclusion: Participation in the "Learning About Elderly People" unit alone did not significantly affect this sample's attitudes toward the attitude object. A partial reason may be that the unit lacked sufficient opportunities for experiential input, provided either through intergenerational contact or increased duration of the unit.
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