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Andragogy (Adult Learning) Andragogy refers to methods and techniques for teachning adults Literally, the term means leader of man and compares to pedagogy, which means leader of children. The term was first used in the eighteen thirties by a German educator, Alexander Kapp and was picked up by another German, Rosenstock, in 1921, who used it to refer to the special requirements of adult education. It was first introduced to english speakers in 1926, by Eduard Linderman, who emphasized education in life and through experience continuing throughout adulthood. He can be considered an early proponent of life long learning. However, the term was popularized when it was adopted by Malcolm Knowles, in the later part of the twentieth century, to describe his theory of adult learning. Knowles proposes six assumptions about adult learners which determine how teaching of adult should proceed. In the literature, you will find reference to four, five and six assumptions. This is because two were added later, as his theory developed. His assumptions are: Firstly, The need to know Adults need to know why they are learning something What the benefits are of knowing it and what they risk by not learning it. Evidence suggests when adults know how learning will happen What learning will occur and why it is important They will respond more positively to learning experiences This leads to a need to include adults in deciding what it is they learn and setting goals and plans for their learning The second assumption is Self Concept Adult learners have a self concept of being responsible for their own decisions. They are naturally self directed in their lives and in their thinking, which may lead to self management of learning. This has two elements: Firstly, taking ownership of learning, in terms of making decisions about what and how to learn and secondly, self direction which includes self management, motivation and on assuring. Self Concept is likely to be context dependent, that is, it will vary between different learning situations. The third assumption is experience. Adult learners have experience and that experience is more diverse than is the case of children. Learning can, therefore, draw on this experience much more fully. However adults might also have ingrained ideas from this experience leading to bias or single mindedness. Adults tend to associate experience with who they are. Their identity is defined in terms of what experiences they have had. All of this means that learning needs to be associated with existing knowledge and learning activities situated in real experience. Learning should be active, constructive and collaborative and learners also need to recognize that, sometimes, unlearning is required. The fourth assumption is Readiness to Learn Adult learners need learning to be timely and relevant and focus on what is useful in that particular context and situation. Pratt identifies 2 dimensions along which adults vary in different learning situations. Direction is how much assistance is needed and is a factor of the learner’s competence in the subject area, and their general dependency. Support is how much encouragement is needed from others, and is a factor of their commitment and their confidence in their ability to learn The fifth assumption is Orientation to Learn Adult learning is life centered and focuses on tasks and problems rather than on subjects, so learning needs to be contextualized and experiential learning is most affective. Kolb proposed an experiential learning cycle where learners have concrete experiences of the here and now. They observe and reflect on those experiences. They generalize from those experiences to develop concepts and theories and then they test these generalizations in new situations. Finally, the sixth assumption is Motivation to Learn This maybe extrinsic, for example, through rewards and grades but in adults it is more like to be intrinsic for example, self satisfaction, enjoyment, having choice and control of what is learned and value, feeling that what is learned is worthwhile. All of this, contrast pedagogy when Knowles argues there is an assumption that the teacher leads and makes keys decisions the learners are dependent. with natural dependency decreasing from childhood to adolescence. The learners own knowledge and experience is not considered important. Knowledge comes from teachers and text books. The readiness to learn is focused on what they are told they need to know. The learning is subject centered, and the motivation is extrinsic, focusing on good grades and pleasing others. Knowles characterized andragogy as process model of learning. A facilitator considers the activities and steps needed for learners to acquire knowledge and skills rather than a content model such as pedagogy where the teacher decides on what will be taught and how it will be presented to the learner. Knowles work has its critics. Some argue that the assumptions do not apply equally to all adult learners or a diverse group with a huge range of backgrounds and experiences, or even to any one individual all of the time. For example, self direction can be affected by fear Lack of confidence can create dependency and reduce motivation and not all adult learners have a clear view of what their learning direction should be. Others argue that Knowles creates a false dichotomy between adult and child learners, arguing that children have experiences that shape their learning as well, and benefit from contextualized experiential learning. It can be argued that andragogy is not so much a theory of adult learning, but a framework for good teaching. Later, Knowles did adjust his position, acknowledging the need to look at which assumptions apply when looking at a particular learning context, rather than looking a specifically at the age of the learner. The andragog, he argued, even if starting from a pedagogic perspective will try to move to andragogic practice as soon as possible. This approach can be applied regardless of the age of the learner and suggests that andragogy could be viewed simply as good teaching practice. The model described by Knowles, while drawn from assumptions about adults may actually represent principles of facilitative teaching practices as opposed to a traditional transmission focused teaching, rather than applying sole to adult learning.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 27 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Producer: PC3 team
Director: I do not know
Views: 302
Posted by: poyama on Jan 7, 2011

A short video from the PC3 team focusing on Malcolm Knowles' theory of andragogy or adult learning. This video is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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