The dictionary defines andragogy as: The method or techniques used to teach adults.
The underlying ideas offer insight and find ready application whether we find ourselves in the role of learner or facilitator of learning.
Following the life work of Malcolm Knowles, we present here a short introduction to andragogy in the form of five assumptions and four principles.
5 Assumptions of Andragogy
01 — SELF-CONCEPT
Adults resist the idea of being dependent. Adults perceive themselves as self-directing, and want to be viewed by others as being self-directing.
02 — EXPERIENCE
Adults rely upon their own personal inventory of experiences as a learning resource.
03 — READINESS
Adult learners are motivated when they are able to easily see how the new learning will help them perform better in their social roles and responsibilities.
04 — PROBLEM
Adult learners are motivated when they are able to easily see the relevance of the new learning to a current problem they are facing.
05 — INTERNAL
Adult learners perform better when they are internally motivated, as opposed to externally.
4 Principles of Andragogy
The above assumptions lead to the following principles for andragogy.
01 — INVOLVE LEARNERS IN PLANNING AND EVALUATION
When designing adult learning experiences, draw learners into both the planning and evaluation processes.
02 — CREATE EXPERIENCES
Offer opportunities for adult learners to work on realistic exercises in a non-theoretical, hands-on way, where the possibility of failure exists.
03 — ESTABLISH PERSONAL RELEVANCE
Structure learning exercises around actual projects from their job or life. This often requires an explanation of the thinking behind a given learning exercise.
04 — DELIVER PROBLEM-CENTERED EXPERIENCES
Structure the learning experience in such a way that the learner takes an active role solving a problem (whether alone or in a group) as opposed to a passive role of receiving information.
As we know, there is an unprecedented amount of change coming our way. It is not possible to know what that will look like. But one thing we do know – the changes in the world around us will require us to be lifelong learners.