As part of the transition to Digication, Portfolio is going away! Portfolio will be fully decommissioned on July 1, 2024. As of July 1, 2023, there will be a new content freeze in Portfolio. You will not be able to add new pieces of content to your personal or organizational Portfolio. Existing content is still editable. Please continue to migrate your existing content from Portfolio to Digication. For more information about Digication, click here. For a discussion of options for transitioning your content on Portfolio, click here. To learn more about using Digication in your courses, click here.
  • The Clermont College of Creative Life

    TITLE: The Impact of Intergenerational Engagement on Social Work Students' Attitudes Toward Aging: The Example of Clermont College

    AUTHORS: Steward, A., Hasche, L., Talamantes, M., & Bernhardt, M. 

    ABSTRACT: As a response to our rapidly aging society, professional training programs in health care need to offer rich experiences with older adults, as well as education about ageist attitudes. Health care professionals are likely to work with older adults in a variety of settings, yet ageist attitudes continue to be a barrier to workforce development. This study evaluated the effects of an intergenerational, lifelong learning initiative as a way to decrease ageist attitudes in social work students. The research hypothesis was that intergenerational engagement would help reduce ageist attitudes of social work students. Paired samples t-tests were conducted with 32 students through pre and post surveys of the ROPE (Relating to Old People Evaluation). Results indicated a significant decrease in ageist attitudes overall, in negative ageism, and in students' self-report of behaviors such as complimenting older adults "despite their age" and avoiding older adults. Qualitative comments indicated significant changes in perception about the aging experience and increased awareness of ageist stereotypes. Overall, this pilot study offers an encouraging model which can be applied through future partnerships to reduce ageism of students in health care related fields.



         The Clermont College of Creative Life (abbreviated as “Clermont College”) launched in the summer of 2014 at a retirement community in the Rocky Mountain region. The residential setting of this continuing care retirement community proved to be ideal for initiating an intergenerational partnership due to its proximity to the university. The Clermont College model was inspired by an older adult resident at the retirement community and offers a lifelong learning curriculum open to people of all ages and abilities. Clermont College is guided by the ten principles of the Eden Alternative ( and the Masterpiece Living approach to successful aging (; Rowe & Kahn, 1998). The Eden Alternative and Masterpiece Living are both organizations promoting culture change in the aging field through a focus on continued growth, rather than decline, for older adults. The retirement community partners with these organizations to support a person-directed culture of successful aging.

         Clermont College was developed by transforming community life programming at the retirement community into a lifelong learning curriculum. This transformational approach requires not only the buy-in but direction from both community residents and staff alike. The development of a lifelong learning initiative at a retirement community is unlikely to succeed if responsibility is placed entirely in the hands of one or even a small team of staff leaders. Although this fundamental shift can happen at any retirement community or nursing home, the lead developers of Clermont College credit much of the success of this initiative to the person-directed approach of the Eden Alternative and Masterpiece Living. The Eden Alternative provides a framework for Clermont College based on inclusivity, inviting people of all ages, abilities, and roles to participate. This culture of inclusivity drives the organic growth of the lifelong learning initiative. As the idea for Clermont College came from a resident living at this retirement community, and regular planning meetings seek direction and leadership from the older adults rather than staff in the community, Clermont College reflects the person-centered principles of the Eden Alternative by placing the decision-making back into the hands of older adults. In this model, older adults contribute their experience and abilities to shape the development and direction of the college curriculum.

         The Clermont College model resulted from an evolution of programs in the retirement community. Programs transitioned from common activity offerings, to Masterpiece Living programs, and eventually a lifelong learning curriculum. Masterpiece Living offers packaged programs to partner communities, and the Clermont College curriculum includes some of these programs. However, the development of Clermont College as a whole is directed by residents at the retirement community, and the majority of courses offered are designed and taught independently by older adults. The lifelong learning curriculum is organized into a catalog of courses, with a new catalog distributed quarterly.

         Participants receive credit for courses based on four lifestyle components from the Masterpiece Living approach to successful aging: social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual pursuits. Each course may focus on one or more of these components, and the number of lifestyle components determines how many credits each course offers. To graduate from Clermont College, participants must meet the following criteria: 30 overall credits, with five credits in each of the four Masterpiece Living lifestyle components (for a total of twenty core credits), plus ten elective credits of the participants’ choosing. During the first graduation in 2014, Clermont College celebrated 20 older adult graduates from the independent living neighborhood of the retirement community. By August 2015, by implementing strategies such as tailoring classes to address various learning modalities (auditory, visual, experiential, kinesthetic, etc.), Clermont College celebrated older adult graduates from all levels of living (independent, assisted living, memory support, and skilled nursing). These efforts led to Clermont College being recognized with an international innovation award in 2015.

         The intergenerational partnership between this retirement community and nearby university developed rather organically, as the Masterpiece Living Coordinator at the retirement community was also a recent alum of the university. During the 2014-2015 academic year, a partnering social work Professor included a required assignment on the syllabus for a concentration level skills course in health care, and 30 graduate social work students participated in at least one Clermont College course. During the 2015-2016 academic year, the same Professor included this assignment on the syllabi for two sections of this course, and a total of 44 students participated in or led one Clermont College course. Students were only required to participate in one, one-hour course. Therefore, although this is a goal, to date no graduate students from the university have met the requirements to graduate from Clermont College.

         The instructor gave students the option to either teach a course or participate in a course taught by an older adult. Examples of courses which students taught include: “Mindfulness and Movement,” “Creating Six-Room Poems,” and “Martial Arts.” Although not required, there was often a creative or physical activity component to courses taught by students, which was entirely by choice and may show that this assignment allowed students to express creativity in their learning outside the traditional clinical focus of health care social work courses. Examples of courses which older adults taught include: “Solutions in Conflict Resolution,” “Presentation Skills,” and “Art Gallery Opening: Expressions of Spirituality.” In 2016, researchers from the partner university evaluated this intergenerational partnership for the purpose of this study.   


This portfolio last updated: 10-May-2022 9:39 AM