Developing an Interactive Adult Learning Model – Part 2 – Andragogy Versus Pedagogy


Andragogy and Teaching Adults

Adult learners are volunteers. There is no compulsion involved when teaching adults and therefore motivation is not usually a problem. Adults tend to seek out learning opportunities. Often life changes, such as marriage, divorce, a job change, termination, retirement or a geographical change, serve as the motivation for the adult to seek new learning opportunities.

Adults often seek out learning opportunities in order to cope with life changes. They usually want to learn something that they can use to better their position or make a change for the better. They are not always interested in knowledge for it’s own sake. Learning is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

There are many differences between andragogy and pedagogy

1. Andragogy

Demands of learning – Learner must balance life responsibilities with the demands of learning

Role of instructor – Learners are autonomous and self directed. Teachers guide the learners to their own knowledge rather than supplying them with facts

Life experiences – Learners have a tremendous amount of life experiences. They need to connect the learning to their knowledge base. They must recognize the value of the learning

Purpose for learning – Learners are goal oriented and know for what purpose they are learning new information

Permanence of learning – Learning is self-initiated and tends to last a long time

2. Pedagogy

Demands of learning – Learner can devote more time to the demands of learning because responsibilities are minimal

Role of instructor – Learners rely on the instructor to direct the learning. Fact based lecturing is often the mode of knowledge transmission

Life experiences – Learners are building a knowledge base and must be shown how their life experiences connect with the present learning

Purpose for learning – Learners often see no reason for taking a particular course. They just know they have to learn the information

Permanence of learning – Learning is compulsory and tends to disappear shortly after instruction

Reference: from Green, J. (1998). Androgogy: Teaching adults. In B. Hoffman (Ed.),

Encyclopedia of Educational Technology.

Tips and Techniques for Teaching Adults

  • Use problem oriented instruction.
  • Case studies, simulations problem solving groups make the instruction relevant to their situation.
  • Instruction should be about tasks not memorization of content.
  • Instructors need to put their egos aside and not be afraid to have ideas and instruction challenged.
  • Don’t be afraid to give up control.
  • Make the environment comfortable and leave time for breaks (every 45- 60 minutes).
  • Instructors should use open ended questions to bring out the vast experiences of the adult learners.

Four keys to adult learning

  • Let adults direct themselves in the instructional process
  • Integrate new information with previous experiences
  • Make sure the information is relevant
  • Make sure the information is readily usable for the learner

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