Promoting Meaning and Life Satisfaction to Older Students through Service Learning in Continuing Education


  • Maureen Reed Ryerson University
  • Marilyn Hadad Ryerson University



continuing education, life satisfaction, older students, self-esteem, service learning


The objective of this study was to examine whether continuing education that focuses on service learning could provide older students (over the age of 50) with knowledge and skills that increase their life satisfaction, confidence, and community integration. We also examined whether it could provide them with meaningful and purposeful experiences. We surveyed older students prior to a service-learning program on satisfaction with life, self-esteem, extraversion, life purpose, depression, loneliness, and self-control coping. After completing the service-learning program, we again surveyed the older students, using the same measures one year later. We found that the service-learning program benefitted the students in terms of their self-esteem, loneliness, confidence, and skill development. In addition, we learned that those who were less satisfied with their life prior to the service-learning program made the highest gains in life satisfaction following the service-learning program. We conclude that continuing education that focuses on service learning may be one way to provide older students with meaningful and psychologically beneficial social experiences.

Author Biographies

Maureen Reed, Ryerson University

Psychology, Associate Professor

Marilyn Hadad, Ryerson University

Psychology, Associate Professor Emeritus


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