Our Youth and Senior Adults: Working Toward Positive Engagement in Early Adolescent Students
This research project explored student engagement in an intergenerational learning environment. The project was directed by two questions: Would intergenerational programming bolster social confidence and social motivation in students who participate? What is special about intergenerational programs in special education? Three middle school students from an alternate school in British Columbia, and six senior residents of an assisted-living facility participated in the study. Program activities were game-oriented, and observation of student performance was situated in the social domain. In the spirit of research methodologies that honour mixed-methods approaches and pedagogical development, data were collected through observations, researcher's field notes and reflections, and post-program semi-structured interviews with participants. When compared with baseline levels of engagement that reflect typical classroom behaviour, two student participants showed small gains in engagement levels during interactions with senior participants. Results suggest there are social benefits for early adolescent students involved in intergenerational programs. Furthermore, intergenerational programming has implications for personalized education, healthy communities, and further research into the complex interplay of relationship, motivation and achievement.