Fall 2013

Class: Tuesdays 3-6 p.m. in Turlington 2328


Instructor:       Monika Ardelt, Ph.D.                   

Office:             3350 Turlington

Phone:             294-7166


Office Hours:   Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:45-2:45 p.m. and by appointment



Course Content

How and why do we age? Is old age necessarily a period of decline? What are the benefits of old age? Why is it important to study aging? How is individual aging related to the structure of society? What are the problems of an aging society? These and other questions are the topic of this course. We will examine aging from the perspectives of sociology, psychology, social demography, history, biology, the medical sciences, and economics. In particular, we will start by studying aging from a developmental or life course perspective. Then we will discuss health care for the elderly and issues of death and dying. We will end the course with a social and economic outlook for an aging society.


Required Reading

Moody, Harry R. and Jennifer R. Sasser. 2012. Aging. Concepts and Controversies. 7th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge. See also the Online Appendix available through the publisher’s Web site at that includes self-quizzes, e-flashcards, additional readings, and web resources and activities.

Course packet (abbreviated as “CP” in the reading list) available at Target Copy (1412 West University Avenue right next to Chipoltle Resturant).


Recommended Reading

Ram Dass. 2001. Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying. New York: Riverhead Books.


Maimon, Elaine P., Janice H. Peritz, and Kathleen Blake Yancey. 2007. A Writer’s Resource. A Handbook for Writing and Research. 2nd Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.




Readings and Class Participation: An interaction between students and instructor will be the basis of most classes. Hence, it is absolutely essential that you read the assigned material in advance so that you are able to participate in class discussions.

For each of the ten controversies that we will discuss in class, you will prepare one or more questions on the issue at hand and write down possible answers to those questions or issues that should be considered when attempting to debate the controversy. On the day when the particular controversy is discussed in class, you are encouraged to ask your question(s) to stimulate class discussions. You will receive 1 point per Q & A if you write at least 300 words that were not copied directly from the Moody book or course packet. Answers that only repeat what can be found in the course packet or the Moody book will not count.

Q & A entries for each controversy should be submitted via e-Learning in Sakai after the file has been saved either as a Word document (*.doc or *.docx) or as a rich text format (*.rtf) file. I will not be able to download, read, and grade any other file format. The deadline for submission is before class on the day the respective Q & A submission is due. For general information about e-Learning in Sakai visit


To submit your MS Word file or *.rtf file in e-Learning, go to the University of Florida e-Learning Support Services home page at <> (bookmark this page). To sign into e-Learning in Sakai, click on the “e-Learning Login” link using your assigned Gatorlink username and password. If you do not have a Gatorlink ID or if you cannot remember your Gatorlink login information, go to the Gatorlink website at <> or to the CIRCA Help Desk in the Hub (phone: 392-HELP) for assistance.


After you have successfully logged into e-Learning, you will be taken to your My Workspace, where you can access the sites you own and/or the sites you belong to. The “?” icon set to the right side of each title bar will bring up a help file associated with that window. Note: You can also access the Help tool in the left tool bar of each site. For further assistance please contact e-Learning Support Services at (352) 392-4357 select option 2 or email:


To submit a Q & A entry via e-Learning, navigate to our course and click on Assignments in the menubar. Assignments are displayed in the order they are due. Do the following to submit a Q & A entry:

Step 1: Click the Q & A entry you want to submit.

Step 2: Follow the directions.

Step 3: To add an attachment, click the Add Attachments button. Browse for a Local File and click Continue.

Step 4: Click Submit when you are done. Once you have submitted the assignment, you can view it later, but you cannot modify it.

NOTE: Please click the Honor Pledge checkbox stating that you have not received outside help with the Q & A entry before submitting the assignment.


To view your grades, click on Gradebook in the menubar.


Attendance: Attendance of class is required because non-attendance by several students at a time will destroy the dynamic of the class. If you attend class regularly (i.e., not more than 2 unexcused absences – for all or part of a class), you will be rewarded with 1 extra credit point that will be added to your grade at the end of the term!


Tardiness: If you arrive late to class, you will be marked as “absent.” In this case, it is your responsibility to let me know at the end of the class that you were actually present. Otherwise, I will count your tardiness as absent from class.


Use of Electronic Devices: I request that you do NOT use any electronic devices, such as a laptop or cell phone, that might distract you during class. Even if you use a laptop for note-taking, the temptation will be too strong to go on the internet and leave the classroom mentally.


Debate Teams: At the beginning of the semester, I will divide the class into debate teams. Each debate team will be responsible for presenting relevant material and leading the class discussion on one of the controversies introduced in the Moody book. The debate team will conduct one class session (50 minutes) on the controversy. The team will research the issue at hand further by including material into the debate that is not already published in the Moody book. Each member of the team will contribute at least one additional empirical or theoretical aspect to the debate. The particular format of the class session is open but it is required that all members of the debate team actively participate, that they introduce several aspects of the controversy, and that they involve the rest of the class in the discussion. Grading will be based on the quality of the actual class session and the quality of the material used to prepare for the debate, including the bibliography.


Interview Project: As a class project, you will conduct and analyze 30-minute qualitative interviews with two older adults, age 55 or above, every week for a total of 8 weeks over the course of the semester. Preferably, you should interview one of your older relatives and one nursing home or assisted living facility resident. Those interviews and analyses can be used as the basis of an optional individual or group term paper for extra credit that is due on November 26th after class. The term paper should be 8-10 pages long for an individual paper and 15-25 pages long for a group term paper (double spaced). Detailed instructions for the interview project and the term paper can be found in the course packet. We will talk about the interview project during the section on “Techniques for qualitative interviewing” and about the term paper during the week after the 2nd exam.


Cheating: I define copying parts or all of an assignment or exam from an author or another student or allowing another student to copy parts or all of your assignment or exam as cheating. You are also not allowed to use any electronic devices (e.g., cell phones) during exams.

WARNING: Students who are caught cheating in this way will fail the class immediately!


UF students are bound by The Honor Pledge which states, “We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honor and integrity by abiding by the Honor Code. On all work submitted for credit by students at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: “On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment.” The Honor Code ( specifies a number of behaviors that are in violation of this code and the possible sanctions.


Exams: There are 3 exams. The first two exams are on October 1st and November 5th during the first hour of our regular class time. The third exam is during Final Exam Week on December 12th between 8 and 9:30 a.m. All exams consist of multiple choice questions. The exams are based on the readings and material from class, including class discussions. Exams are not comprehensive, i.e., they will cover only material presented in class or in the readings that were not covered by the previous exam(s).

I do not plan to give any make-up exams. If you should encounter or anticipate any difficulties, please come and see me early!


Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.


Note: This section is NOT a Writing Requirement section for the 24,000 word writing requirement.

Three Tips for Staying Awake in Class (and make class more interesting to you):

1.      Ask questions.

2.      If you feel yourself falling asleep, ask provocative questions. Challenge your professor.

3.      Read the assigned material before class to do #1 and #2.






Questions for debates

Debate team

Interview project

Three exams

Term paper


% of Final Grade








Questions for debates

Debate team

Interview project

Three exams



% of Final Grade








Your grade will be calculated according to the formula of either Option 1 or Option 2, whichever results in a higher grade for you. 

Plus, you can earn 1 extra credit point that will be added to your final grade points if you did not miss unexcused all or part of class more than two times during the semester!


I will not grade on a curve, i.e. your grade will depend on your absolute performance, not your performance compared to other students.


The points that you will earn can be translated into letter-grades as follows:


92.5 - 100.0 = A

90.0 - <92.5 = A-

87.5 - <90.0 = B+

82.5 - <87.5 = B

80.0 - <82.5 = B-

77.5 - <80.0 = C+

72.5 - <77.5 = C

70.0 - <72.5 = C-

67.5 - <70.0 = D+

62.5 - <67.5 = D

60.0 - <62.5 = D-

          <60.0 = E


For information on current UF grading policies for assigning grade points, see


Requirements for class attendance and make-up exams, assignments, and other work in this course are consistent with university policies that can be found in the online catalog at:


Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on 10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at Evaluations are typically open during the last two or three weeks of the semester, but students will be given specific times when they are open. Summary results of these assessments are available to students at


A WORD OF CAUTION: Keep in mind that the points you earn during the semester will determine your final grade. All assignments must be submitted by the due date and cannot be turned in after the end of the semester to improve your grade. Your actual total points at the end of the class will determine your grade. I will not round up points. Begging will be futile!


Important phone numbers and contact information

University counseling services and mental health services: 392-1575 or

University Police Department: 392-1111 or 9-1-1 for emergencies


Tentative Class Schedule





Differences between individual and population aging.   

Pp. xxiii-xxxi


Theories of aging and a life course perspective on aging

Volunteer orientation and techniques for qualitative interviewing.

Pp. 1-26

CP: Qualitative Interviewing


Controversy 1: Does old age have meaning?
Q&A for Controversy 1 due!

Pp. 27-51


Controversy 3: Does intellectual functioning decline with age?
Q&A for Controversy 3 due!

Pp. 93-128


Controversy 2: Is biological aging inevitable?
Q&A for Controversy 2 due!

Pp. 53-91


First exam (3-4 p.m.): A life course perspective on aging.

Feedback. Discussion of interview project.

Aging, health care, and society 

Pp. xxiii-xxxi and 1-128

Pp. 129-161


Controversy 4: Should we ration health care for older people?
Q&A for Controversy 4 due!

Pp. 163-195; CP: Callahan vs. Cassel, 2003; Kaufman et al., 2004


Controversy 5: Should families provide for their own?
Q&A for Controversy 5 due!

Pp. 197-231; Sakai: Small is Beautiful


Controversy 6: Should older people be protected from bad choices?
Q&A for Controversy 6 due!

Pp. 233-260


Controversy 7: Should people have the choice to end their lives?
Q&A for Controversy 7 due!

Pp. 261-291


Second exam (3-4 p.m.): Aging, health care, and society

Discussion of term paper.

Social and economic outlook for an aging society

Pp. 129-291


Pp. 293-324



Controversy 8: Should age rather than need be the basis for entitlement?
Q&A for Controversy 8 due!

Pp. 325-364


No class! Work on interview project and the (optional) term paper.



Controversy 9: Should social security be privatized?
Q&A for Controversy 9 due!

All sets of interview/analysis notes and (optional) term paper due!

Pp. 365-399


Controversy 10: Is retirement obsolete?
Q&A for Controversy 10 due!

Pp. 401-439


Third exam (8-9:30 a.m.):
Social and economic outlook for an aging society

Pp. 293-439

Note: All page numbers refer to Moody & Sasser. 2012. Aging. Concepts and Controversies. 7th Edition.