Older adults’ and young educators’ experiences and perceptions of Intergenerational Learning (IGL) in non-formal education: A case study from the Adult Education Centres in Cyprus


  • Antri Piliri Open University of Cyprus
  • Maria N. Gravani Open University of Cyprus




intergenerational learning, non-formal education, older adults, younger educators, adult education centres


The paper explores the experiences and perceptions of older adults and their young educators regarding Intergenerational Learning (IGL) in the course of a non-formal adult education programme in Cyprus. It aims to identify the forms that IGL takes in the programme as well as any possible components of the programme that foster IGL. The research was located in the Adult Education Centres (AECs), a non-formal adult education programme, offered in the Republic of Cyprus. It is based on a qualitative research design and adopts a bottom-up approach, as it gives voice to older adults and their educators and makes meaning out of their IGL experiences. The results of the study present the different forms that IGL take in the programme under three different axes: the cognitive, the social and the psychological. They view IGL as a multilevel mutual beneficial form of learning for both the older adults and their younger educators. They also highlight the necessity of a learner-centered and cooperative learning approach for fostering IGL.


Auerbach, C. F., & Silverstein, L. B. (2003). Qualitative Data: An introduction to coding and analysis. New York University Press.

Bassey, M. (2009). Case study research in educational settings. Open University Press.

Bjursell, C. (2015). Organizing for intergenerational learning and knowledge sharing. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 13(4), 285–301. https://doi.org/10.1080/15350770.2015.1108952

Borg, C. (2021). Reading the migrants’ world through emancipatory learner-centred education: Parting reflections on the micro pedagogical contexts. In M. N. Gravani & B. Slade (Eds.). Learner-Centred Education for Adult Migrants in Europe (pp. 168-181). Brill.

Boström, A. K. (2009). Social capital in intergenerational meetings in compulsory schools in Sweden. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 7(4), 425–441. https://doi.org/10.1080/15350770903289009

Bottery, M. (2016). The future of Intergenerational Learning: Redefining the focus? Studia Paedagogica, 21(2), 9–24. https://doi.org/10.5817/sp2016-2-2

Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. Cultural Theory: An Anthology, 1, 81–93. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470755679.ch15

Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant L. (1992). An invitation to reflexive sociology. Polity Press.

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory a practical guide through qualitative analysis. Sage Publications.

Charmaz, K. (2017). Special invited paper. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 160940691771935. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406917719350

Charmaz, K., & Thornberg, R. (2020). The pursuit of quality in grounded theory. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 18(3), 305–327. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2020.1780357

Clarke, A. E. (2019). Situating grounded theory and situational analysis in interpretive qualitative inquiry. In A. Bryant & K. Charmaz (Eds.), Situational analysis in practice (pp. 47-96). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526485656

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1999). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage Publications.

Ehlman, K., Ligon, M., & Moriello, G. (2014). The impact of intergenerational oral history on perceived generativity in older adults. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 12(1), 40-53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15350770.2014.870865

Erikson, E. H., & Erikson, J. M. (1997). The life cycle completed. Extended version. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Erikson, E. H. (2014). Childhood and society. Vintage Digital.

European Commission. (2018). The 2018 Ageing Report Economic and Budgetary Projections for the EU Member States (2016-2070). Retrieved from http://www.silvereco.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/the-2018-ageing report.pdf (October 28, 2021)

European Network for Intergenerational Learning (ENIL) (2012). European network for intergenerational learning report on intergenerational learning and volunteering. Retrieved from http://www.enilnet.eu/Report_on_Intergenerational_Learning_ and_Volunteering.pdf (July 26, 2022)

European Union, (2021). Council Resolution on a new European agenda for adult learning 2021-2030 (2021/C 504/02). Retrieved from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32021G1214%2801%29 (March 20, 2022).

Eurostat (2020). Ageing Europe. Looking at the lives of older people in the EU. Retrieved from https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/3217494/11478057/KS-02-20-655-EN-N.pdf/9b09606c-d4e8-4c33-63d2-3b20d5c19c91?t=1604055531000 (September 20, 2021).

Feldman, R. S. (2019). Development across the life span. Pearson.

Findsen, B., & Formosa, M. (2012). Lifelong learning in later life a handbook on older adult learning. Sense Publishers.

Freire, P., Clarke, P., Macedo, D., & Aronowitz, S. (2001). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy, and Civic Courage. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Geeraerts, K., Tynjälä, P., & Heikkinen, H. L. (2018). Inter-generational learning of teachers: What and how do teachers learn from older and younger colleagues? European Journal of Teacher Education, 41(4), 479–495. https://doi.org/10.1080/02619768.2018.1448781

Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Polity Press.

Gravani, M. N., & Ioannidou, A. (2016). Mapping adult and continuing education in Cyprus: Key challenges for the future. The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, 23(4), 33–44. https://doi.org/10.18848/2328-6318/cgp/v23i04/33-44

Heidegger, M. (1953). Being and Time. (J. Stambaugh, trans.). N.Y. Sunypress (2010).

Hodkinson, P., Biesta, G., & James, D. (2007). Understanding learning cultures. Educational review, 59(4), 415-427. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131910701619316

Hoff, A. (2007). Intergenerational learning as an adaptation strategy in aging knowledge societies. Education, Employment, Europe, 1, 126-129.

Hoffmann, M., Kaufmann-Kuchta, K., Kutscher, T., Merkel, J., Widany, S., Wiest, M., & Willeke, J. (2019). The potential of statistical matching for the analysis of wider benefits of learning in later life. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 10(3), 291–306. https://doi.org/10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela201910

Hollingshead, B. P., Corcoran, P. B., & Weakland, J. P. (2014). Introduction - to walk together: Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership. In P. B. Corcoran, B. P. Hollingshead, H. Lotz-Sisitka, A. E.J. Wals & J. P. Weakland (Eds.). Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership for Sustainable Futures (pp. 19–36). https://doi.org/10.3920/978-90-868

Illeris, K. (2003). Towards a contemporary and comprehensive theory of learning. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 22(4), 396–406. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370304837

Illeris, K. (2017). How we learn: Learning and non-learning in school and beyond. Routledge.

Illeris, K. (2018). A comprehensive understanding of human learning, In K. Illeris (Ed.). Contemporary Theories of Learning. (pp. 1–14). https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315147277-1

Jarvis, P. (2012). Towards a comprehensive theory of human learning. Routledge.

Kaplan, M., & Sánchez, M. (2014). Intergenerational programs and policies in aging societies. In S. Harper & K. Hamblin (Eds.). International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy (pp. 367–383). https://doi.org/10.4337/9780857933911.00042

Knight, C. C., & Sutton, R. E. (2004). Neo-piagetian theory and research: Enhancing pedagogical practice for educators of adults. London Review of Education, 2(1), 47–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/1474846042000177474

Lave, J., & Wenger-Trayner Étienne. (2020). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press.

Mannion, G. (2016). Intergenerational education and learning: We are in a new place. In: S. Punch & R. M. Vanderberck (Eds.). Families, Intergenerationality, and Peer Group Relations (pp. 1–21). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-4585-92-7_5-1

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative interviewing: Asking, listening and interpreting. In T. May (Ed.), Qualitative Research in Action, (pp. 226–241). SAGE publishing Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781849209656.n10

Merriam, S. B. (2015). Qualitative research: Designing, implementing, and publishing a study. In V. Wang (Ed.), Handbook of research on scholarly publishing and research methods, (pp. 125-140). IGI Global.

Merrill, B. (2001). Learning and teaching in universities: Perspectives from adult learners and lecturers. Teaching in higher education, 6(1), 5-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562510020029563

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth/MoECSY. (2020). Annual Report 2020. Retrieved from https://archeia.moec.gov.cy/mc/605/annual_report_2020_en.pdf (15 March 2022)

Newman, S., & Hatton-Yeo, A. (2008). Intergenerational learning and the contributions of older people. Ageing horizons, 8(10), 31-39

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods: Integrating Theory and Practice. Sage.

Pratt, M. W. (2013). Erikson's Seventh Stage: Fostering adults' generativity through intergenerational programs. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 11(1), 97–100. https://doi.org/10.1080/15350770.2013.754700

Republic of Cyprus (2016). National Report for the third review and appraisal cycle of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and its Regional Implementation Strategy (MIPAA/RIS) 2012-2017. Retrieved from https://unece.org/DAM/pau/age/country_rpts/2017/CYP_report.pdf (September 12, 2021)

Schmidt-Hertha, B. (2014). Different concepts of generation and their impact on intergenerational learning. In B. Schmidt-Hertha, S. Jelenc Krasovec, & M. Formosa (Eds.), Learning across generations. Contemporary issues in older adult education (pp. 145–154). Sense. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-902-9_12

Schuller, T. (2007). Reflections on the use of social capital. Review of Social Economy, 65(1), 11–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00346760601132162

Siebert, H., & Seidel, E. (1990). SeniorInnen studieren. Zwischenbilanz des Seniorenstudiums an der Universität Hannover [Seniors study. Provisional evaluation of senior study programme at the University of Hannover]. Hannover: ZEW.

Swartz, D. (1998). Culture and power: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. University of Chicago Press.

Tight, M. (2017). Understanding case study research: Small-scale research with meaning. Sage.

UNESCO (2021). Embracing a culture of lifelong learning - Lifelong learning in ageing societies: Lessons from Europe. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000377820 (September 10, 2022)

Vanderven, K. (2004). Intergenerational theory in society. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 2(3-4), 75–94. https://doi.org/10.1300/j194v02n03_07

van Manen (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Althouse Press.

VanWynsberghe, R., & Khan, S. (2007). Redefining case study. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 6(2), 80–94. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690700600208

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2020). Learning to make a difference: Value creation in social learning spaces. Cambridge University Press.

Yembuu, B. (2021). Intergenerational learning of traditional knowledge through informal education: The Mongolian context. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 40(4), 339–358. https://doi.org/10.1080/02601370.2021.1967488




How to Cite

Piliri, A., & Gravani, M. N. (2023). Older adults’ and young educators’ experiences and perceptions of Intergenerational Learning (IGL) in non-formal education: A case study from the Adult Education Centres in Cyprus. Ricerche Di Pedagogia E Didattica. Journal of Theories and Research in Education, 18(2), 131–149. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1970-2221/15929