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A primary concern in the field of Educational Psychology is how to effectively understand human development, especially when it refers to adult development and adult education. Perhaps, the use of science can be used as a means of putting adult development into context

Psychology of Adult Learning_EPSY 5473 Miguel A. Llovera Da Corte

Background Definition Assumptions of Andragogy Applications and Implementations Critiques of Andragogy: Limitations Andragogy and Learning Theories Pedagogy Versus Andragogy The Future of Andragogy Summary References

The term ANDRAGOGY' was first authored by Alexander Kapp (1833), a German high school teacher (Henschke, 2011.) Rosenstock-Huessy (1925) resurrected the term as he developed a method for teaching the German people.
Lindeman (1926) explained the term as a key method for teaching adults. Savicevic provided a critical consideration of andragogical concepts in ten European Countries. The critical element in European andragogy is that adults should assist one another to become more refined and competent.

Malcolm Knowles acquired the term in 1966 from Savicevic and imprinted on it his extensive experience in adult education.
The defining attributes of his theory include: Learners are self-directed and autonomous Teachers are seen as facilitators of learning rather than presenter of content. Knowles tested and refined this theory and design on a broad spectrum in numerous settings: corporate, workplace, business, industry, healthcare, government, higher education, professions, religious education, and elementary, secondary, and remedial education (Henschke, J. A. 2011.)

A science of how adults learn

A model with five assumptions

A system of concepts

A theory of adult education, adult learning, theory of technology of adult education, method of adult education, technique of adult education, [or] a set of assumptions (Merriam, 2001).

To discuss andragogy as the science of how adults learn, five assumptions by Knowles must be considered: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Self-concept Experience Readiness to learn Orientation to learn Motivation to learn

To these five assumptions, it is pertinent to add another assumption that depicts one of the current trends in post-secondary education: 6. Time management


Individuals evaluate their needs and motivations Primary Needs the need to know: To acquire skills that may not have been fully learned To improve already acquired skills
Primary Motivations: To become an active learner by taking advantage of new learning opportunities hands-on learning To remain competitive in todays global environment Needs become a priority and force individuals to realize the importance of being a self-directed human being (Henschke, 2011).


Expertise is gained as individuals grow resource for learning Separates adult from children/young learners Wisdom as a source of knowledge that occurs in late life personality development (Smith, 2009).

Prior experiences are used as a tool to improve critical thinking skills and to avoid faulty reasoning
Adults look at the practicality of things applicability of what is learned now and what has been learned in the past


As a person matures, his/her readiness to learn becomes oriented to the developmental tasks of his/her social roles (Ozuah, p. 86, 2005). Impact of new learning experiences on those around the adult learner

As an adult learner: Are you ready and willing to learn? Is it important to learn? Do you know how to maximize your learning success?
There is a need to know and a motivation to learn; however Adults must believe that the need-to-know is the passport to achieving an ultimate goal


Time is seen as a valuable resource; therefore, individuals time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application (Ozuah, p. 86, 2005).

Adults become more problem-centered than subject-centered What is learned needs to be applied to real life experiences What is learned needs to be meaningful
New information is critically evaluated All sides of a problem are analyzed when formulating solutions to daily-life situations


Individuals are competitive in nature Goal oriented Eager to make positive changes to their lives Desire to learn and need to learn are not a result of external factors Individuals understand the existence of a need selfmotivated I do it because I want to; not because you want me to do it. Studies show that the majority of all normal adults are motivated to keep learning, growing and developing


As a person matures, his/her time for learning is constrained by other social roles. His/her geographical location also may limit the opportunity to learn and lead to another time constraint(Ozuah, 2005).
These days adult-learners are encouraged to take control of their time, to create a workable schedule, and to organize their day by establishing priorities Time management is the starting line for academic/career success College orientation classes are offered to returning adult students Many college courses are designed to satisfy the needs of working adults online classes


Taking into consideration the five basic assumptions of andragogy, educators can help adult learners: To take an active approach and use different levels of thinking analyze, evaluate, create To connect their life experiences to the learning process To see learning as a process of facilitation rather than direct instruction (Yoshimoto, 2007). To be open and willing to take on new challenges that could benefit an entire society rather than a small group of individuals service learning projects / community outreach To explore different problem-solving alternatives before reaching a conclusion To better understand that each individual plays an important and unique role in society

Critiques of Andragogy: Limitations

Learners Levels of Motivation and/or Interest: One of the assumptions of Andragogy is that individuals have internal (self) motivation; however, what happens when individuals levels of motivation are not high enough due to the presence of external factors? Lack of self-confidence what if I fail? What if I make mistakes? Fear of change technology can represent a barrier for many adult learners Social anxiety as an adult, how am I going to be perceived by youngsters in a classroom setting? Information overload Andragogy may not work in science and math because of heavy content material

Critiques of Andragogy: Limitations

Learners Control and Sense of Direction: Andragogys meaning, in the purest Knowlesian sense, advocates learner control (at the very least, substantial input) over not only the objectives but also the learning strategies as well as evaluation procedures. Yet in several of these investigations, instructor control is near absolute, and learner control is negligible (Rachal, p. 213, 2002). Learners do not understand what direction is given the regulation of resources knowledge/information

Andragogy and Learning Theories

Behavioral Theory: the goal of learning is a change in observable behavior. In this paradigm, the instructor writes the learning objectives, provides the stimulus, asks for responses and provides reinforcements to the learners (Ozuah, 2005). Allowing students to show work in progress rather than final products Provide students with feedback to polish work in progress Cognitive Theory: acquisition of usable knowledge and problem solving know-how. In this approach, the instructor assesses the learners skills and provides guidance and examples for the learner (Ozuah, 2005). Help students establish connections with knowledge that has been acquired before

Andragogy and Learning Theories

Constructivist Learning Theory: achievement of a shared understanding and the development of the process of knowledge acquisition. The instructor develops the objectives along with the learners and grounds the learning in practical experiences (Ozuah, 2005). Developmental Theory: has as its goal the achievement by each learner of his or her maximum potential. The instructor determines the learners stage and responds appropriately while emphasizing the discovery of principles (Ozuah, 2005). Allowing students to conduct research on topics that relate to a particular chapter but are not suggested by instructor

Andragogy and Learning Theories

Humanistic Learning Theory: there is a natural tendency for people to learn and that adult learning will flourish, if nourishing and encouraging environments are provided The learners develop the learning objectives and the instructor reacts to the learners needs and incorporates the learners experiences into the learning exercise (Ozuah, 2005). Share with me what you know, and we will see how your experience/situation fits into the program.

PEDAGOGY was first, and then came ANDRAGOGY a shift in paradigms

The concept of andragogy is counter-posed to pedagogy in the area of adult education or lifelong learning (Ozuah, 2005). In Andragogy, learning is seen as a continuous process that cannot be stopped Andragogy is learner-focused, compared with pedagogy, which is teacher-focused. The latter is related to the idea of teaching, and the former to the idea of learning support (Ozuah, 2005). In the pedagogy mode (on-campus learning), typical clients are young and/or immature students, and emphasis is on socialization rather than on knowledge acquisition. (Ozuah, 2005).

The truly artistic teacher of adults perceives the locus of responsibility for learning to be in the learner; he conscientiously suppresses his own compulsion to teach what he knows his students ought to learn in favor of helping his students learn for themselves what they want to learn (Rachal, p. 216, 2002).

The Future of Andragogy

The future of Andragogy as a science will prevail as long as researchers:
1. Ensure Voluntary participation: Allow learners to understand the intrinsic factors that motivate them to pursue educational goals: need for self-actualization

2. Clearly define adult status: Who are adults? Those who behave as adults? Those that accept the challenges and responsibilities associated with maturity- delimited roles?

3. Establish objectives collaboratively: Learning objectives should be determined based on the learners previous experiences, their roles in society, and their expectations and motivations
4. Determine performance-based assessments: How should success and achievement be measured? Self-report learning objectives transformed into a plan to achieve goals (Rachal, 2002). How is proficiency attained? Knowledge applied to real-life situations

6. Ensure an appropriate adult learning environment: Physically and psychologically comfortable nurtured with a sense of collaboration and camaraderie among all adult learners (Rachal, 2002).

In Knowles Words
The andragogical model is not an ideology; it is a system of alternative sets of assumptions [to the pedagogical model], a transactional model that speaks to those characteristics of the learning situations -Malcolm Knowles, 1984.

Summary of Principles of Adult Learning

(Rachal, 2002)
Adults learn best: When they want or need to learn something In a non-threatening environment When their individual learning style needs are met When their previous experience is valued and utilized When there are opportunities for them to have control over the learning process When there is active cognitive and psychomotor participation in the process When sufficient time is provided for assimilation of new information When there is an opportunity to practice and apply what they have learned When there is a focus on relevant problems and practical applications of concepts When there is feedback to assess progress towards their goals

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