Pedagogy vs Andragogy

“Pedagogy” literally means “leading children.”

“Andragogy” was a term coined to refer to the art/science of teaching adults.

Malcolm Knowles and others theorized that methods used to teach children are often not the most effective means of teaching adults. In The Modern Practice of Adult Education (1970), Knowles defined andragogy as “an emerging technology for adult learning.” His four andragogical assumptions are that adults:

1) move from dependency to self-directedness;
2) draw upon their reservoir of experience for learning;
3) are ready to learn when they assume new roles; and
4) want to solve problems and apply new knowledge immediately.

Initially defined as, “the art and science of helping adults learn,” andragogy has come to be understood as an alternative to pedagogy; a learner-focused approach for people of all ages.

Pedagogy can also be thought of as “teacher-centered or directive” learning, and andragogy as “learner-centered/directed.”

Adults over 21 are the fastest-growing segment of today’s “undergraduates,” especially in distance and online education. Consideration of andragogical principles in designing courses has become more vital and valid.

Andragogy asserts that adults learn best when:

  • They feel the need to learn
  • They have some input into what, why, and how they learn
  • The learning’s content and processes have a meaningful relationship to the learner’s past experience.
  • Their experience is used as a learning resource. (See Bloom’s taxonomy)
  • What is to be learned relates to the individual’s current life situation and tasks.
  • They have as much autonomy as possible
  • The learning climate minimizes anxiety and encourages freedom to experiment.
  • Their learning styles are taken into account.
  • There is a cooperative learning climate
  • We create mechanisms for mutual planning
  • We arrange for a diagnosis of learner needs and interests and enable the formulation of learning objectives based on the diagnosed needs and interests
  • We design sequential activities for achieving the objectives
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