‘Andragogic Education’ - What is it?


Malcolm Knowles' theory of andragogy (adult learning) is an attempt to differentiate the way adults learn. Each learner is respected for their current skills and experience. New skills and understanding are based on existing ones. Students are encouraged to 'learn how to learn' - as this will prove infinitely useful.


The educator often adopts the role of a facilitator and will prepare relevant and user-friendly learning resources for the learners to use during sessions so that learners can learn for themselves, interactively, using pair and small group work.


The use of written, video, verbal or pictorial case studies are good examples of andragogic (student centred) learning activities.


A number of assumptions are made based on this theory;


  • adults are autonomous and self-directed


  • adults are goal oriented


  • adults are relevancy oriented (problem centered) - they need to know why they are learning something


  • adults are practical and problem-solvers


  • adults have accumulated life experiences


Kearsley summarizes what this means to educators in practical terms: "andragogy means that instruction for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluations are most useful. Educators adopt a role of facilitator or resource rather than lecturer or grader" (1996).


What Motivates Adult Learners?


Adults typically, have motivations for learning such as those pointed out by Cantor (1992, 37-38):


  • to meet external expectations--the boss says you have to upgrade skill X to keep your job


  • learn to better serve others -- managers often learn basic First Aid to protect their employees


  • professional advancement


  • escape or stimulation


  • pure interest


  • to make or maintain social relationships


Educators should be aware of the possible motivations behind their students' enrolment. Then they can better shape the instructional materials.


We particularly focus on addressing aspects in the ‘Affective Domain’ (Attitudes, feelings, socialisation - Benjamin Bloom et al). i.e. the beneficial effects that addressing the ‘social’ situation in the learning environment can have on encouraging effective learning.


On our courses, this is addressed through the use of pair and group work and problem based learning such as the use of case study and presentations, where appropriate.



Please examine this link for further information:




Contact: enquiries@an-ed.co.uk - 0208 144 9828 (Please leave a voicemail as we are a busy team!)

'Andragogic Education' – Teacher Training specialists

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