Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Sciences

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Faiza Jamil

Committee Member

Dr. Edmond Bowers

Committee Member

Dr. Jacquelynn Malloy

Committee Member

Dr. Luke Rapa

Committee Member

Dr. Lesley Ross


Intergenerational relationships are partnerships between individuals from different generations, often marked by respect, shared responsibility, reciprocity, and resilience. Within the context of families, intergenerational relationships provide a natural space for learning and development across the lifespan, especially for those belonging to non-adjacent generations. Although it has been clearly established that non-adjacent intergenerational relationships in the family context can be mutually influential, less is known about how individuals enter into these interactions and view their role as active partners, how the social and cognitive processes within the intergenerational relationship shape outcomes, and how experiences in these relationships during childhood inform perspectives, sense of purpose, and well-being as one enters adulthood.

Within its three distinct manuscripts, this dissertation (1) evaluates learning experiences between adjacent and non-adjacent generations in the family against core components of structured intergenerational learning by reviewing recent empirical research, (2) explores the contemporary grandparent’s experience, role, and purpose in the family using a convergent mixed methods approach, and (3) examines the influence of grandparent relationship type, either recreational or custodial, during childhood and the role of intergenerational narratives on life satisfaction in early adulthood through an explanatory sequential mixed methods design. The purpose of this collective work is to develop a deeper understanding of intergenerational relationships—their challenges and affordances—within the family context, with special consideration of the experiences and outcomes for non-adjacent generations.

The findings of the dissertation reveal that intergenerational relationships between non-adjacent generations must be intentional, with meaningful connections fostered through bidirectional teaching and learning. Further, the composition of modern family systems can be iii complex, leading to important impacts on functionality and development for those involved. Taken together, the findings from the three studies provide practitioners and researchers with opportunities to create more meaningful resources and programming and explore new areas, such as the triadic gatekeeping relationship or grandfamily diversity, to promote positive intergenerational relationships for family members across the lifespan.

Author ORCID Identifier




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