Mary Ann Erickson, associate professor and chair of aging studies, recently presented at the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE)'s Annual Meeting and Educational Leadership Conference in Denver. Erickson's presentation, "What Undergraduate Intellectual Biographies Tell Us About Aging Studies," summarized the narratives of 17 recent graduates, who had participated in a gerontology senior seminar in which they were required to write an intellectual biography outlining the experiences that shaped their identity as a gerontologist.
As outlined in Erickson's presentation abstract, these narratives "demonstrate that in retrospect most students identify both family and high school-related experiences that increased their interest in the aging population. Most students focus their discussion of college experiences on experiential learning, suggesting that these experiences help students solidify their commitment to gerontology. Many also write about the importance of links between classroom and experiential learning.
"The intellectual biography is a meaningful assignment that can help students integrate coursework and experiences both within and outside the major. Educators in gerontology sometimes focus exclusively on students reflecting on the stories of elders; the intellectual biography is a way for students to elaborate and reflect on their own story."