2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Design and Participants
A survey was carried out in which participants were seniors enrolled in university programs for the elderly at the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain), who had to comply with the criterion of having completed more than one course to answer the questionnaire.
This work is part of a larger study in which the universe was made up of the total number of older people enrolled in universities in Spain. The study population was defined from data published annually by the State Association of University Programs for the elderly. The total number of people enrolled in Spanish universities during the 2019-2020 academic year was 44,994. Thus, the data show a population size of 44,994 senior students, of which 58.6% were women.
Setting an absolute error of 3%, a confidence level of 95%, and considering the hypothesis of p = q = 0.5, the sample size is estimated at 381 students. This article presents the data extracted from the application of the questionnaire to a sample of 162 students from the University of Deusto in Spain, the total number of students enrolled at this university who met the criteria for participation in the sample.
Data collection was carried out (in school periods) from May 2019 to February 2021. With an experimental mortality of 3.08%, the final sample comprised 157 participants with the following characteristics (Table 1
The questionnaire designed is composed of the SLIM together with the Passion Scale as well as a series of basic sociodemographic questions to know the profile of the participants and to carry out the necessary analyses to adapt the scales. The sociodemographic variables have been the following:
2.2.1. Serious Leisure Inventory and Measure (SLIM)
SLIM is a tool dedicated to evaluating serious leisure, a concept that explains the commitment and involvement in long-term leisure practices with which people engage in order to acquire and express the skills necessary to fully exercise those practices [8
]. This tool consists of 18 dimensions derived from the six distinctive characteristics of serious leisure. Each dimension is in turn made up of three items. The items are formulated on a 9-point Likert scale in its original version and a 5-point scale in its Spanish adapted version (where 1 means “totally disagree”, and 5 means “totally agree”). Based on the 18 dimensions, the lead author of the instrument [32
] derived two composite indices named “measurement” and “inventory”. The measurement index combines six of the dimensions: perseverance, effort, progress, contingencies, unique ethos
, and identification, which refer to the different levels of seriousness that the population can show.
The inventory index combines the 12 dimensions of durable benefits. Each of the two composite indices is calculated by summing the coded responses of the items representing the relevant dimensions [36
In this study, the Spanish version adapted by Romero, Iraurgi and Madariaga [37
] has been used, who based their work on Gould’s 2008 version [9
], which is composed of 54 items that respond to 18 dimensions that explain serious leisure. In this case, and given the sample age, the shorter version of 18 items (1 item per dimension) [36
] has been used. The 18 items that make up this SLIM version are presented below:
I overcome the difficulties in the courses I take by being persistent.
I work hard to become a more competent person in the courses that I take.
I feel like I have made progress in the courses I take.
There are specific moments in the courses that I take that have significantly determined my involvement in them.
The courses I take have enriched my life.
I make full use of my talent when I take the courses.
I show my abilities and skills when I take the courses.
The courses I take are an expression of myself.
The courses have improved the way I think about myself.
The courses I take provide me with a deep sense of satisfaction.
The courses I take are fun for me.
I feel revitalized after classes.
I have received financial reward for my experience in the courses I take.
I enjoy talking to others who do the same as me.
I feel important when I am part of the achievements of my group (of class).
It is important to perform functions that unify my (class) group.
I share many of the ideas of other people who take the same courses.
Others who know me understand that these courses are a part of who I am.
The SLIM has previously offered adequate internal consistency values, and in this case, shows values ranging from 0.80 (inventory) to 0.83 (measurement).
2.2.2. Passion Scale
The Passion Scale is another tool used to assess the passion people feel, referring to that strong inclination towards an activity that people like, that is considered important, and in which people invest time and energy. Therefore, for an activity to represent a passion for people, it has to hold relevance in their lives, it must be something they like, as well as something they regularly spend time on [26
]. The Passion Scale was developed to measure DMP [26
]. The scale includes two six-item subscales that assess harmonious (HP) and obsessive (OP) passion. For this study, the Spanish version of the Passion Scale [22
], made up of 17 items with a Likert scale ranging from 1 (Totally disagree) to 7 (Totally agree), was used. The items that make up this scale are:
The courses are in harmony with the other activities of my life.
I have difficulty controlling the urge to take the courses.
The new things that I discover with the courses allow me to appreciate them even more.
I have almost an obsessive feeling about the courses.
The courses reflect the qualities that I like about myself.
The courses allow me to live a variety of experiences.
The courses are the only thing that truly activates me.
The courses are well integrated into my life.
If I could, I would only do these courses.
The courses are in harmony with other things that are part of me.
The courses are so exciting that sometimes I lose control over them.
I have the impression that the courses control me.
I spend a lot of time practicing the courses.
I like the courses.
The courses are important to me.
The courses are a passion for me.
The courses are part of who I am.
The criterion variables have not been accounted for in this case, provided that the questions related to passion will be verified considering the sex and age of participants.
Previous studies have shown adequate internal consistency values. Results in this study oscillate between 0.76 (harmonious passion) and 0.91 (obsessive passion).
Two members of the work team went to the classrooms 5 min before and/or 5 min after the classes to apply the questionnaires, explaining the purpose of the study, the importance of their participation and notifying them that they could abandon completion if they so wished. Participants had the option of taking the questionnaire during class (10 min) or taking it home and delivering it in the next class. In all cases, the questionnaire was self-administered, providing an email address for possible questions. Only on one occasion did one of the students send an email to express doubts about one of the items.
In order to be a part of the sample, it was essential that respondents stated their participation in the research was voluntary and on anonymous terms, as well as confirm they had received information on the objectives and procedures of the study and the type of participation, being able to stop their contribution at any time.
The University’s Ethics Committee, to which the researchers belong, approved this procedure in March 2019. Therefore, from the ethical point of view, the research is adequate in everything related to the protection and avoidance of risks to the participants and respect to their autonomy. Likewise, it conforms to the methodological, ethical and legal principles that this type of research should have. There were no risks of any kind for the participants and adequate measures were established that offer sufficient ethical guarantees during its development. Thus, the project takes into account the regulation on personal data protection (EU 2016/679) approved by the Commission and the EU Council in April 2016 in relation to the informed consent procedure, access to personal data, use of data for the public interest, and to the responsibilities of the researchers responsible for the project.
2.4. Analysis Strategy
Using the statistical program SPSS 26.0, data analysis was carried out in two phases. First, a descriptive study was carried out considering frequency and means that allowed knowing the position of the elderly regarding both scales. Then, an inferential analysis was performed through two tests: (1) an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted taking into account sex and age as factor variables, as well as (2) the Brown Forsythe test [39
] to correct heteroskedasticity results. In addition, the post-hoc analysis was carried out with the Scheffé test [40
] to know exactly where the possible differences found in those variables of more than two categories were.
To estimate the SLIM measurement and inventory model and the harmonious and obsessive passion of the passion scale, the component items were added to each dimension dividing them by the number of total items that make up each one.
This study focuses on an aging population within the context of Western societies [41
]. Given this reality, active aging is one of the central elements of the European agenda for the coming years [42
]. It has been proven that greater involvement in leisure translates into higher levels of subjective well-being, a decrease in the feeling of loneliness, an increase in mood or an increase in the ability to cope with the physical and mental changes produced during aging [18
Therefore, it is interesting to evaluate in training programs for seniors, not only the teaching and organizational quality of the curricula [29
], but also the impact of the courses from other approaches focused on the personal and social development of the participants [30
]. That is why the objectives of this paper are to evaluate the programs from the approach known as the “serious leisure perspective” or SLP [4
], as well as from the Dualistic Model of Passion (DMP) with the profound impact on the psychological functioning of the person [23
In this sense, the first hypothesis raised in this study is corroborated since participants in university programs for seniors show high results in the SLIM measurement model that certifies the link between said activity and serious leisure [4
], beyond the exclusive search for benefits or enjoyment of the activity. Understanding these activities as a leisure experience in university training for seniors [31
] takes on special meaning from its own design and approach.
The aspects highlighted by the practitioners of training activities for seniors in the university within the dimensions of serious leisure and that have obtained high averages such as perseverance, effort, progress, and contingencies, demonstrate those activities’ capacity to empower participants during the training process. In addition, the identification of people with a training space, together with the unique ethos
involved in sharing many of the ideas with other people who take the same courses, are directly related to participation and empowerment, since this enhances people’s participation in the college community life. Participation is an individual act that acquires greater significance and effectiveness when it is carried out collectively, especially in groups of seniors [44
The second hypothesis stated that lifelong learning as a leisure activity does not imply the development of an obsessive passion. The data records lower scores for obsessive passion than harmonious passion, especially in aspects related to the control exercised by the courses over people, overexcitement, and it being the only thing that activates them. However, there are two components of obsessive passion that would need to be explored further in light of high scores. These are: obsessive feelings about the courses and that, if they could, they would only do this type of course. Therefore, the initial hypothesis has been corroborated regarding the global construct, with two of its components, obsessive feelings and the exclusive choice of this type of course overloading the obsessive passion.
Finally, the third hypothesis focused on the differences in the population based on sociodemographic variables (age and gender). Specifically, it was proposed that these modify the relationship between seniors and the practice of educational leisure. In relation to serious leisure, measured through the SLIM, it has been found that participants’ age somewhat determines the degree of adherence to serious leisure, which is higher in the case of people over 70 years of age, compared to those with less than 65 years of age. So much so that these differences are clearly reflected in the measurement and inventory models. On the other hand, the differences are not significant in terms of gender. With this, the hypothesis is partially demonstrated, confirming the variations by age but not by gender. This has been verified by the post-hoc test in the dimensions of ‘Actualization’ and ‘Financing’. Continuing with this same hypothesis, the data obtained from the DMP construct leads us to reject the initial hypothesis with no significant differences found neither by gender or age groups, in any of its two dimensions, i.e., sociodemographic variables are not decisive in terms of obsessive or harmonious passion, which refer to the strong inclination towards an activity that is considered important and that demands time and energy investment.
5. Strengths and Limitations
This study contributes to demonstrating the relevance of evaluating whether adult training programs at university [24
] meet the objectives for which they are designed. As a general rule, in these university studies, unlike others, the main objective is not exclusively educational, but rather they aim at creating a leisurely experience [5
] and at developing human capacities to achieve human and quality community development [45
]. In addition, the courses promote an experience of enjoyment and satisfaction, which results in an improvement in participants’ quality of life, without negative implications in terms of the link to the practice itself, avoiding obsessive passions. The scales presented here allow an objective evaluation of the fulfillment and optimal development of these goals.
An important contribution is considered to be the design of the used questionnaires. Completing these scales was an arduous task rooted in academia and tested in this study, and so, faced with the possibility of further analyzing these dimensions and with potential future scientific papers in the matter, we suggest they be applied, allowing not only a stable scientific base on which to lean but also the comparison of studies and future replications.
Although it is true that the results of this study are limited given the used sample and our reach to a single university with a relatively homogeneous population, the replicability of this study can allow an easy extension to other Spanish universities, which also combine different sociodemographic characteristics and that are all grouped in the State Association of University Programs for the Elderly (AEPUM for its Spanish acronym). Here lie potential future lines of work that are of high interest to the scientific community.