Senior Centers as Learning Organizations: A National, Exploratory Study

Jessica L Banslaben, Fordham University


For 75 years, senior centers have maintained a rich and vital history as part of older adults' continuum of care system, enhancing the physical and social well-being of participants, while delaying dependence. However, today's senior centers are at a crossroads stemming from complex challenges such as stagnant fiscal support, declining participant pools, and an increasingly diverse aging population. Consequently, senior centers' ability to remain viable and sustainable organizations that serve older adults is in question. Guided by organizational learning theory and its emphasis on the relationship between organizational learning and performance, adaptability, and growth, this study examined senior centers as learning organizations. Watkins and Marsick's (1993, 1996) Dimensions of Learning Organizations Questionnaire (DLOQ) was used to evaluate the learning organization characteristics in senior centers and their relationship to organizational performance indicators. A cross-sectional, exploratory study utilizing survey research was conducted using a purposive sample of the National Council of Aging (NCOA) 4,057-member database. Bivariate analysis included Spearman's Rank Order Correlation, Kruskal Wallis, and Mann Whitney U tests. Multivariate analysis included simple and multiple regression, multinomial logistic regression, and negative binomial regression. Analyses indicated that senior centers with larger operating budgets, a greater number of funding sources, programs, activities, community partners, and larger participant pools perceive a more active learning culture as measured by the DLOQ.

Subject Area

Gerontology|Organization Theory|Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Banslaben, Jessica L, "Senior Centers as Learning Organizations: A National, Exploratory Study" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10822327.