EDUC-6125-4 – Problem Statement

Problem Statement

The motivational factors that drive older adults (age 65 or older) to learn to use a computer may have an influence on success and adoption, and consequently may inform instructional design strategy selection.

Contextual Background of Literature Review

Older adults who are new to computers seem to respond in one of two ways – they respond well; once they are past the initial learning curve and have developed some confidence, they’re off and running, or they respond poorly; they never seem to get out of the gate, they remain anxious, agonizing over taking the simplest action, and never seem to master the mouse or the most fundamental tasks. This research review is concerned with whether there is a relationship between motivational factors and success/adoption.

“Although it is widely perceived that older adults should be making more use of information and communications technology (ICT), academic studies in this area have been limited, especially from a sociological perspective. We still know little, for example, about the reasons and motivations underlying older adults’ adoption or nonadoption of ICTs.” (Selwyn, 2004) “The study of motivational factors in older adults’ technology use has received little scientific attention.”  (Melenhorst, 2006) At the same time, “the successful adoption of technology is becoming increasingly important to functional independence.” (Czaja, 2006)

It is hoped the findings of this research review will serve to inform the design of computer literacy training programs at assisted living facilities. Since these facilities are focused on maintaining the health and wellness of residents through continued independence, and because it is widely agreed (although beyond the scope of this research review) that access to technology and the internet fosters independence, the results of this research review seem particularly relevant to the mission of those involved in providing assisted living services.

Context of Literature Review

A research review will be conducted to investigate a possible causal relationship between motivational factors such as a desire for information, a desire for social connection, a desire to play games, or a desire to simplify life tasks, and the adoption of technology among older adults.

Research Questions

The research review will be concerned with identifying motivational factors that yield the highest rate of success in the adoption of technology among older adults and with identifying best instructional design strategies proscribed by those motivational factors. For the purpose of this review, motivational factors are specifically defined to be intrinsic (toward knowledge via learning, exploring, or trying to understand something new), extrinsic (toward accomplishment of things such as improving one’s skills in a betting activity), and amotivation (toward stimulation or excitement) (Clarke, 2007) and include such motivators as the desire for a place for social networking with family and friends; a source for health and other information; a place for commercial purposes, such as purchasing goods or managing finances; and a place for entertainment and travel planning

Scope of Literature Review

This literature review will be limited to research conducted on the topic within the past ten years. It will focus specifically on computer/technology adoption among adult learners age 65 and older.


Clake, D. & Clarkson, J. (2007). A Preliminary Investigation into Motivational Factors Associated with Older AdultsProblem Gambling. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, Vol. 7, No. 1. (Jan2009), pp.12-28.

Czaja et al., 2006 S.J. Czaja, N. Charness, A.D. Fisk, C. Hertzog, S.N. Nair and W.A. Rogers et al., Factors predicting the use of technology: Findings from the center for research and education on aging and technology enhancement (CREATE), Psychology and Aging, Vol. 21, No. 2. (June 2006), pp. 333-35

Dawidowicz, P. (2008). Literature reviews made easy: A quick guide to success. Bloomington, IN: ISES Press/Positive Change Publishing, 9-19

Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2010). Reading and understanding research (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage  Publications, Inc.

Melenhorst, A.S., Rogers, W.A., Bouwhuis, D.G., (2006). Older Adults’ Motivated Choice for Technological Innovation: Evidence for Benefit-Driven Selectivity. Psychology and Aging, Vol. 21, No. 1. (March 2006), pp. 190-195.

Patton, M. (n.d.). Purposes of Research. Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved May 11, 2011 from:

Selwyn, N. (2004). The information aged: A qualitative study of older adults’ use of information and communications technology. Journal of Aging Studies, Vol. 18, No. 4. (November 2004), pp. 369-384.


About Darlene Loebel
Software consultant with 20 years experience in Software Engineering and graduate student in Instructional Design & Technology at Walden University.

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