Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


This study examined children's perceptions of elderly people, elderly people's perceptions of children, and changes in perceptions following either a six-week program of interaction between a children's group and a nursing home population or a six-week unit of instruction about elderly people presented to a second children's group.

Fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade children completed a 15-item pretest/posttest dealing with perceptions of "aging," personality of elderly people," "attraction to elderly people," and "stereotypes of elderly people." Selected nursing home residents completed a ten-item pretest/posttest asking them to compare personality characteristics of today's young people with characteristics the residents themselves had possessed as young people. Other variables included the children's sex, grade, project assignment, educational ability, and ratings of their sessions and the elderly people's sex, longevity in the nursing home, personality rating, and contact with family.

The statistical tests included chi-square comparison, analysis of variance, t-tests, and Pearson product-moment correlations. Findings were considered to be significant at the .05 level of difference or relationship. Some of the observations/conclusions were: (1) The children had mixed feelings about the aging process but positive feelings about the personalities of elderly people. (2) The female children and the fourth-grade children were more attracted to elderly people. (3) The children who received instruction about elderly people became more positive about elderly people's personality characteristics. (4) The children who visited the nursing home became more stereotyped in their views of the health of elderly people. (5) The elderly people described today's young people as less willing to work, as respecting parents less, and as caring less about old people but also as being more mature, as knowing more about the world, and as enjoying life more. (6) The elderly people's high rating of children's maturity dropped after the interactions but the elderly males described children as knowing more about the world and as caring more about old people.

The study has implications for educators planning intergenerational programs dealing with aging issues. A major finding was the need to supplement nursing home visits with instruction about elderly people to avoid generalizing what is observed to all elderly people.