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Andragogy Learning Theory

By: Brooke Hawkins

What is the andragogical learning theory?

Beginning in the 1950s Malcolm Knowles developed a new theory in the context of adult learners. He has argued that adulthood has arrived when people behave in adult ways and believe themselves to be adults. Then they should be treated as adults. He taught that adult learning was special in a number of ways. For example:
·Adult learners bring a great deal of experience to the learning environment. Educators can use this as a resource.
·Adults expect to have a high degree of influence on what they are to be educated for, and how they are to be educated.
·The active participation of learners should be encouraged in designing and implementing educational programs.
·Adults need to be able to see applications for new learning.
·Adult learners expect to have a high degree of influence on how learning will be evaluated.
Adults expect their responses to be acted upon when asked for feedback on the progress of the program.The central idea in the context of adult learning is that - it is only after convincing oneself on the rationale of learning they decide to learn. Hence, adults cannot be treated like children. Therefore it is assumed that workshops and seminars organized by the students themselves enable better learning environment.
By adulthood people are self-directing. This is the concept that lies at the heart of andragogy ... andragogy is therefore student-centred, experience-based, problem-oriented and collaborative very much in the spirit of the humanist approach to learning and education ... the whole educational activity turns on the student.

Andragogy Learning Process:

The andragogic model asserts that five issues be considered and addressed in formal learning. They include (1) letting learners know why something is important to learn, (2) showing learners how to direct themselves through information, and (3) relating the topic to the learners' experiences. In addition, (4) people will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn. Often this (5) requires helping them overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning.

Click on the links below to view resources on the theory:
Applying the Andragogical Model of Adult Learning:A Case Study of the Texas Comptroller's Fiscal Management Division
Andragogy + Pedagogy
Conner, M. (2009, November 8). Andragogy + Pedagogy. In Ageless Learner. Retrieved from
Andragogical learning theory. (2009, November 5). Wikipedia. Retrieved from
Applying the Andragogical Model of Adult Learning: A Case Study of the Texas Comptroller’s Fiscal Management Division. (2009, November 6). Texas State University. Retrieved from

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