Life Satisfaction and Participation in Learning Activities Among Widows

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Roger Hiemstra


Women's studies, Older women, Marital status, Salamon-Conte Life Satisfaction in the Elderly Scale, Geriatrics

Subject Categories



The majority of older females are widows whose psychological well-being is of societal interest. The primary focus of this study was to explore the relationship between life satisfaction and participation in learning activity for widows. Also hypotheses were tested for relationships among participation, learning orientation and selected demographic variables. Participation in learning activity was measured by number of learning projects and number of hours spent learning. Findings for widows were compared to other marital groups.

Eighty-seven subjects consisting of 54 widowed, 16 married, 9 separated/divorced and 8 never-married women living in two subsidized senior housing developments in southern Rhode Island participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 57-90 years with a mean of 72.5 years; they had an average of 10.3 years of formal schooling and 13.6 years of widowhood.

Each woman was administered the Salamon-Conte Life Satisfaction in the Elderly Scale, Tough's Interview Schedule, and researcher designed questions on learning orientation. Widows showed significant (p < .05) positive correlation between over-all life satisfaction and participation in learning activity. Correlations between life satisfaction and number of learning projects and life satisfaction and number of hours spent learning were .29 and .25, respectively.

Subjects showed significant correlations between participation and life satisfaction factors, particularly with taking pleasure in daily activities and positive moodtone. Divorced or separated women were significantly "worse-off" than widows on the sense of achievement and financial security factors. Results also showed widows more expressive in their learning orientation than non-widows.

Findings indicate that participation in learning activity is related to enhancing life satisfaction. Gerontologists and adult educators may consider promoting learning activity as a strategy for increasing psychological well-being. It is recommended that studies in the future explore the relationship between participation in learning activity and life satisfaction on a larger and broader based sample for all marital categories. It is also suggested that research be directed toward further refining the relationship between participation and life satisfaction variables. In addition, scholars are encouraged to investigate the relationship between learning orientation and life span development.


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