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Age is no barrier: predictors of academic success in older learners

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Imlach, A, Ward, D ORCID: 0000-0001-5476-9526, Stuart, KE ORCID: 0000-0002-7872-4231, Summers, MJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3869-4920, Valenzuela, MJ, King, AE ORCID: 0000-0003-1792-0965, Saunders, NL ORCID: 0000-0003-4609-114X, Summers, JJ, Srikanth, V, Robinson, A and Vickers, JC ORCID: 0000-0001-5671-4879 2017 , 'Age is no barrier: predictors of academic success in older learners' , n p j Science of Learning, vol. 2 , pp. 1-7 , doi: 10.1038/s41539-017-0014-5.

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Abstract

Although predictors of academic success have been identified in young adults, such predictors are unlikely to translate directly toan older student population, where such information is scarce. The current study aimed to examine cognitive, psychosocial,lifetime, and genetic predictors of university-level academic performance in older adults (50–79 years old). Participants were mostlyfemale (71%) and had a greater than high school education level (M = 14.06 years, SD = 2.76), on average. Two multiple linearregression analyses were conducted. The first examined all potential predictors of grade point average (GPA) in the subset ofparticipants who had volunteered samples for genetic analysis (N = 181). Significant predictors of GPA were then re-examined in asecond multiple linear regression using the full sample (N = 329). Our data show that the cognitive domains of episodic memoryand language processing, in conjunction with midlife engagement in cognitively stimulating activities, have a role in predictingacademic performance as measured by GPA in the first year of study. In contrast, it was determined that age, IQ, gender, workingmemory, psychosocial factors, and common brain gene polymorphisms linked to brain function, plasticity and degeneration (APOE,BDNF, COMT, KIBRA, SERT) did not influence academic performance. These findings demonstrate that ageing does not impedeacademic achievement, and that discrete cognitive skills as well as lifetime engagement in cognitively stimulating activities canpromote academic success in older adults.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Imlach, A and Ward, D and Stuart, KE and Summers, MJ and Valenzuela, MJ and King, AE and Saunders, NL and Summers, JJ and Srikanth, V and Robinson, A and Vickers, JC
Keywords: education, aged, older, adult, predictors, genetic, age
Journal or Publication Title: n p j Science of Learning
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2056-7936
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41539-017-0014-5
Copyright Information:

© 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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