Collaborative learning of new information in older age: a systematic review

Kelly Wolfe, Catherine J. Crompton, Paul Hoffman, Sarah E. MacPherson

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Ageing is accompanied by a multitude of changes in cognitive abilities, which in turn affect learning. Learning collaboratively may benefit older adults by negating some of these age-related changes. However, studies on collaborative learning in older age differ in their methodology and findings. This systematic review provides an overview of the current research on collaborative learning in older age, exploring what factors influence collaborative learning in this age group. The titles and abstracts of imported 6629 works were screened, as well as four works added manually, which resulted in 29 studies. These studies were conducted across five countries (Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Belgium) between 1993 and 2023. Most studies were quantitative with a non-randomized (n = 16) design. Of the 29 studies, almost all studied collaboration in pairs (n = 28). The results suggest that the benefits of collaborating in older age may depend on the type of learning material, that familiarity between partners does not affect learning, and that age differences appear to decrease or disappear when older adults are provided with adequate time or trials. In addition, this systematic review identifies several gaps in the literature that future research should investigate further. This study was preregistered prior to its commencement on 21 January 2022. The accepted Stage 1 manuscript, unchanged from the point of in-principle acceptance, may be viewed at The data and materials of this study can be found at
Original languageEnglish
Article number211595
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number10
Early online date4 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • collaboration
  • learning
  • older age
  • memory


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