Attendance and Retention of Older Adults in School-Based Volunteer Activities: The Role of School Climate

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Abstract

This study examined the relationship between school climate (e.g., safety, resources, learning environment) and average weekly attendance (hours/week) and retention (total weeks volunteered) of older adults in school-based volunteer roles within the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial. The sample included 298 older adults (age 67.3 ± 5.9; 86.9% female; 91.3% African American). We assessed eight dimensions of school climate rated by school staff and students in grades 3–5 from 25 elementary and elementary/middle schools as predictors of older adult attendance and retention using linear mixed-effects and Cox regression models, respectively. Volunteers in schools with worse staff ratings of school safety were more likely to discontinue volunteering than volunteers in schools with better self-reported safety ratings (hazard ratio (HR): 0.59; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.36, 0.98). Similar trends were observed for resources (e.g., programs for students with learning disabilities, school supplies; HR: 0.63; CI: 0.35, 1.11), learning environment (HR: 0.62; CI: 0.34, 1.12) and overall satisfaction (HR: 0.67; CI: 0.39, 1.15). Student ratings of school climate did not predict volunteer attendance or retention. Results suggest that positive school climate can contribute to retention of volunteers and should be considered an important component of volunteer program development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Intergenerational Relationships
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Keywords

  • Attendance
  • experience corps
  • older adult
  • retention
  • school climate
  • volunteer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Archaeology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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