Collaborative Learning of New Information in Older Age: A Systematic Review

  • Kelly Wolfe University of Edinburgh
  • Catherine J Crompton
  • Paul Hoffman
  • Sarah E MacPherson
Keywords: aging, collaborative learning, learning, memory


Introduction. Aging is accompanied by a multitude of changes in cognitive abilities such as processing speed and memory, which in turn affect learning. Learning collaboratively may benefit older adults by negating some of these age-related changes. Collaborative learning, especially in older age, has not been extensively studied but is experiencing a resurgence. However, studies in the literature differ in both their methodology and findings and a comprehensive overview of research conducted on collaborative learning does not exist. As such, this systematic review will focus on the current research on collaborative learning in older age, exploring under which circumstances collaborative learning can be more beneficial compared to learning individually, as well as identify gaps in current knowledge to address in future research.
This systematic review is currently in progress. It was submitted as a registered report and has received Stage 1 acceptance at Royal Society Open Science on January 21st, 2022. We expect to complete the systematic review by January 24th, 2023.
Method. We will conduct a literature search using the following databases: Web of Science, PubMed, Google Scholar, PsychInfo, Prospero, EBSCO and EthOS. We will also include works that cite, or are cited by, the articles found in the initial literature search, as well as email authors to enquire about unpublished work such as PhD theses or preprints. To be included in the systematic review, relevant works must examine collaborative learning, include a healthy older adult population of a mean age of 60 years or older, and must include new information (not existing or autobiographical information). The types of works included must be reviews, research articles, conference proceedings or abstracts, posters, PhD theses, preprints, and book chapters (to locate relevant works that are discussed in the chapter). Covidence will be used for the screening and data extraction phases of the review, with a second reviewer screening 10% of the works at both title and abstract screening and full-text review stages. All materials relating to this project, including the systematic review protocol, reviewer manual, extraction form and logbook, have been uploaded to the Open Science Framework, at
Conclusion. We will use a narrative synthesis for this systematic review, as methodology differs across studies. As such, we plan to discuss the relevant works in categories, based on study characteristics such as the type of relationship between participants, and will discuss the findings within those categories as well as the overall findings on collaborative learning in older age.