Older adults and a writing workshop: A phenomenological study

Jennifer Lynn Alex

Abstract

This study examines how older adults experience the phenomenon of participating in a writing workshop and how older adults interpret their experiences, understandings, and realities of writing. Ten older adults, ranging in age from 62 to 83 with varying degrees of experiences in writing, participated in this study. Through a semi-structured interview, each participant related his or her experience first as a writer and then as a member of a writing workshop offered through a Community Literacy Center in a mid-sized Appalachian city. A phenomenological analysis method was used to identify and analyze themes of meaning that emerged in the interview data. Those themes of meaning were then analyzed within a framework of writing workshop, self-directed learning, transformational learning, lifespan development, and successful aging theories. The analysis identified eight essential themes of meaning. Three essential themes of meaning specifically applied to writing: Writing as a Vehicle for Thought, Writing as a Means of Challenge, Writing as a Record. Four essential themes of meaning were related to the experience of being in a writing workshop: The Writing Workshop as a Commitment, The Writing Workshop as an Affirmation, The Writing Workshop as Awareness, and The Writing Workshop as Community. The final theme applied equally to the experience of writing and being in a writing workshop, and it is Writing and The Writing Workshop as Enjoyment.