Want to quit? Get studying

May 30, 2003

Taking a course in your 30s can help you give up smoking, make you more racially tolerant and reverse a general decline in life satisfaction, according to research.

Government departments should promote adult learning as a way of tackling these problems and of getting more people involved in civic life, suggests the report from the Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning at the Institute of Education and Birkbeck College.

Using data from a national cohort study of 10,000 people born in Britain in 1958, researchers compared the health behaviour and sociopolitical attitudes of adults who completed one or two courses between the ages of 33 and 42, with those of participants who took none.

Adult learners benefited on nine of 12 outcomes. Those who completed courses were more likely to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as giving up smoking and exercising more often. They were also more likely to join organisations and to vote.

Lead researcher Leon Feinstein said that while adult education should by no means override the government's focus on schools and higher education "it's about the balance. Adult learning offers very real long-term possibilities and benefits."

Experiences of some adult learners not associated with the study support its findings.

Craig Thompson, 42, of Harlow, Essex, found that pursuing an MBA helped him decide to quit smoking.

"I couldn't balance trying to improve my standard of living with ruining my standard of living by smoking," he said. "Those two things just didn't fit together."

For Glyn Marsh, 40, completing an MBA through the Open University motivated him to increase his involvement in his local school in Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire, giving him skills and the self-assurance to become chair of governors.

The study found that different courses could be related to different benefits. Academic courses seemed to correspond to increased social and political involvement, and leisure courses were related to improved health behaviours and sociopolitical benefits.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Preceptor in Statistics

Harvard University

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Research Positions in Nanotechnology

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Academic English Instructor

Nazarbayev University
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework