Adult learning: briefing

How does learning affect the wellbeing of adults? Does the style and context make a difference? Which groups in society can benefit most?

In the ‘description’ section below you will find the source documents  referred to in the briefing.




Studies include in the review and corresponding numbers

  1. Au, A., Gallagher-Thompson, D., Wong, M. K., Leung, J., Chan, W. C., Chan, C. C., Chan, K. (2015). Behavioral activation for dementia caregivers: scheduling pleasant events and enhancing communications. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 10, 611-619. doi:10.2147/cia.s72348
  2. Bailey, N., Breen, J., Ward, M., & Organisation, A. T. N. A. L. (2010). Community Education: More than Just a Course. Exploring the Outcomes and Impact of Department of Education and Skills Funded Community Education (978-0-9068-2631-7).
  3. Bailey, N., Ward, M., Goodrick, M., & Organisation, A. T. N. A. L. (2011). Sowing the Seeds of Social Change: The Outcomes and Impact of a Social Action Model of Community Education. Research Report AONTAS 2011 (978-0-9068-2633-1).
  4. Balatti, J., Black, S., Falk, I., & National Centre for Vocational Education, R. (2009). Literacy and Numeracy Pedagogy and Social Capital: Three Case Studies. Support Document.
  5. Carney, P. A., Hamada, J. L., Rdesinski, R., Sprager, L., Nichols, K. R., Liu, B. Y., . . . Shannon, J. (2012). Impact of a community gardening project on vegetable intake, food security and family relationships: A community-based participatory research study. Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, 37(4), 874-881. doi:10.1007/s10900-011-9522-z
  6. Castro, P. C., Tahara, N., Rebelatto, J. R., Driusso, P., Aveiro, M. C., & Oishi, J. (2007). Influence of the Open University for the Third Age (UATI) and the revitalization program (REVT) on quality of life in middle-aged and elderly adults. Revista Brasileira De Fisioterapia, 11(6), 461-467.  Retrieved from <Go to ISI>://WOS:000254584300007
  7. Cavanagh, J., Southcombe, A., & Bartram, T. (2014). The Role of Collaborative Learning on Training and Development Practices within the Australian Men’s Shed Movement: A Study of Five Men’s Sheds. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 66(3), 365-385.  
  8. Chen, L. K. (2016). Benefits and dynamics of learning gained through volunteering: A qualitative exploration guided by seniors’ self-defined successful aging. Educational Gerontology, 42(3), 220-230. doi:10.1080/03601277.2015.1108150
  9. Dattilo, A. E. L., Ewert, A., & Dattilo, J. (2012). Learning as Leisure: Motivation and Outcome in Adult Free Time Learning. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 30(1), 1-18.  
  10. Devor, M., & Renvall, M. (2008). An educational intervention to support caregivers of elders with dementia. American Journal of Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias, 23(3), 233-241. doi:10.1177/1533317508315336
  11. Gajewska, U., & Trigg, R. (2016). Centres for People with Intellectual Disabilities: Attendees’ Perceptions of Benefit. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 29(6), 587-591. doi:10.1111/jar.12212
  12. Golding, B. (2011). Taking Charge at Any Age: Learning and Wellbeing by Older Men through Community Organisations in Australia. Adult Learner: The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education, 26-40.  

See Also

Golding, B., Foley, A., Brown, M. & Harvey, J. (2009). Senior men’s learning and wellbeing through community participation in Australia, Report to National Seniors Productive

Ageing Centre. Ballarat: University of Ballarat.

  1. Griffiths, C. A. (2009). The EMILIA project: The impact of a lifelong learning intervention on the sense of coherence of mental health service users. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 14(1), 3-3.  
  2. Hayslip, B., Jr., Paggi, K., & Caballero, D. (2015). The Impact of Mental Aerobics Training on Older Adults. J Appl Gerontol. doi:10.1177/0733464815581482
  3. Lehenbauer, M., Kothgassner, O. D., Kryspin-Exner, I., & Stetina, B. U. (2013). An online self-administered social skills training for young adults: Results from a pilot study. Computers & Education, 61, 217-224. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.09.007
  4. Lipman, E. L., Kenny, M., Jack, S., Cameron, R., Secord, M., & Byrne, C. (2010). Understanding how education/support groups help lone mothers. BMC Public Health, 10, 1-9. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-4


Lipman, E. L., & Boyle, M. H. (2005). Social support and education groups for single mothers: a randomized controlled trial of a community-based program. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 173(12), 1451-1456.

  1. McConnell, D., Dalziel, A., Llewellyn, G., Laidlaw, K., & Hindmarsh, G. (2009). Strengthening the social relationships of mothers with learning difficulties. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37(1), 66-75. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3156.2008.00526.x
  2. Narushima, M. (2008). More than nickels and dimes: the health benefits of a community-based lifelong learning programme for older adults. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 27(6), 673-692. doi:10.1080/02601370802408332
  3. Prins, E., Toso, B. W., & Schafft, K. A. (2009). “It Feels Like a Little Family to Me”: Social Interaction and Support among Women in Adult Education and Family Literacy. Adult Education Quarterly: A Journal of Research and Theory, 59(4), 335-352.

doi: /10.1177/0741713609331705

  1. Ramon, S., Griffiths, C. A., Nieminen, I., Pedersen, M., & Dawson, I. (2011). Towards social inclusion through lifelong learning in mental health: Analysis of change in the lives of the EMILIA project service users. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 57(3), 211-223. doi:10.1177/0020764009354943
  2. Sabeti, S. (2015). Creative ageing? Selfhood, temporality and the older adult learner. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 34(2), 211-229. doi:10.1080/02601370.2014.987710
  3. Sloane-Seale, A., & Kops, B. (2008). Older Adults in Lifelong Learning: Participation and Successful Aging. Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education, 34(1), 37-62.  
  4. Spry, N., & Marchant, T. (2014). How a Personal Development Program Enhances Social Connection and Mobilises Women in the Community. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 54(2), 32-53.  
  5. Terry, M. (2006). MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN LEARNERS’ LIVES: RESULTS OF A STUDY BASED ON ADULT LITERACY PROGRAMS. Adult Basic Education, 16(1), 3-19.  Retrieved from
  6. Weiss, B. D., Francis, L., Senf, J. H., Heist, K., & Hargraves, R. (2006). Literacy Education as Treatment for Depression in Patients with Limited Literacy and Depression A Randomized Controlled Trial. JGIM: Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21(8), 823-828. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00531.x

Additional References

Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning. (2006) “The wider benefits of learning : A synthesis of findings from the centre for research on the wider benefits of learning 1999-2006”. Research Brief No : RCB05-06 available from

Dolan, P., Fujiwara, D., & Metcalfe, R. (2012). Review and Update of Research into the Wider Benefits of Adult Learning. BIS Research Paper, (90), 1–47.

Inquiry for lifelong learning (IFLL). (2009). Lifelong Learning and Wellbeing : An Analysis of the Relationship between Adult Learning and Subjective Wellbeing. National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE),

Sabates, R., & Hammond, C. (2008). “The impact of lifelong learning on happiness and wellbeing.” In Searle, B. A. (2008). Wellbeing: In search of a good life? Bristol: Policy Press.

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