Andragogy for learners and instructors

Adults continue to learn throughout their lifetime, either by choice or by necessity. Instructors in colleges and workplaces should consider a different methodology of teaching than that used with youth. (Knowles, 2005) Andragogy is a theory that describes the methods of learning for adults in contrast to pedagogy. Knowles, et al. argued that successful adult learning is based on six principles of learning:

(1) The learner’s need to know or reason for learning – the what, why and how of learning

(2) Self-concept of the learner -- adults are more self-directed

(3) Prior experience of the learner -- each adult's experience is a resource to be shared

(4) Readiness to learn -- either for work or problems needing to be solved

(5) Orientation to learning -- task or problem centered

(6) Motivation to learn -- internal incentives and curiosity

(Knowles, 2005)

Instructors will need to address these six principles in order to adapt the method in which they relay information to the adult learner. Successful outcomes are always at the basis of instructing and the approach to empowering adults who are in learning situations is the ultimate goal of a teacher. The choice of teaching theory is dependent upon the learning theory. (Holyoke, 2009) Andragogy most often embraces the theory of constructivism versus instructivism. ( Koohang, 2009) More responsibility is placed on the learner, and the student is given more freedom to build knowledge, based on the principle that adults are more self-directed than younger students. (Knowles, 2005) The lecture method of teaching is the most commonly used format in higher education, but this does not support problem-based learning. (Sandhu, 2012)


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  1. Very nicely done, Deila.
    Good scholarly approach and good critical analysis. I understand, completely, what you mean by being between instructionalism and constructivism.

    In the case of the subject matter you focused on for your final activity, I wonder if the theory of transformative learning as proposed by Mezirow might be a more useful framework.

    Mexirow's original work is a bit dated now but others have sought to apply it to the online learning environment.

    Mezirow, J. (1994). Understanding Transformation Theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 44(4), 222 –232. doi:10.1177/074171369404400403

    Illeris, K. (2004). Transformative learning in the perspective of a comprehensive learning theory. Journal of Transformative Education, 2(79). doi:10.1177/1541344603262315

    Kitchenham, A., & Chasteauneuf, C. (2009). An Application of Mezirow’s Critical Reflection Theory to Electronic Portfolios. Journal of Transformative Education, 7(3), 230 –244. doi:10.1177/1541344610383287

    All the best with your continued studies. I wish I could provide a definite answer to the question of employability subsequent to the acquisition of an advanced degree.
    I know NCU does have people in their student services section that help with professional connections. Your adviser should be able to direct you.

    Nice to work with you in this class and I wish you the best!

    1. Thanks, Glen, I will take a look at those references and I appreciate the information -- I can definitely see the need for some instruction. I like the idea of crowdsourcing, if the crowd has good info, it saves time and speeds learning and problem solving.


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