Principles of Adult Education (Andragony)
September 15th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

When we speak of instructional strategies, we often use the term pedagogy.  However adult learning is different and termed andragony.  I’ve been thinking about adragogical strategies and how to effectively apply them in my teaching of experienced teachers.  Below are some thoughts on the topic:


Noun: The method and practice of teaching, esp. as an academic subject or theoretical concept.


an· dra·go·gy/ änəˌgäjē /

Noun: the practice of teaching adults with emphasis on participation of students in the planning and evaluation

Adults have different expectations in learning than children do.  It is important to take into consideration the needs of the adult learner when engaging in professional development.  Androgogy is the term used to describe the methodology used in teaching adults.

Androgogy, the teaching of adults, contains the following important components and tenets.  Adult learning is voluntary and learner-oriented.  Education brings freedom to the learners as they assimilate learning with life experiences.  Androgogy encourages divergent thinking and active learning.  Often the roles of the learner and the teacher are blurred in the process.  Often there is an uncertainty about the outcome of learning, regardless of the curriculum content.

Research demonstrates that there is a difference in learning between novice professionals and expert professionals.  A professional developer should be aware of his audience’s expertise level and adjust instruction appropriately.  Three main aspects of performance change in novice to expert learners:

  • i.) the novice professional’s work paradigm focuses on abstract principles while the expert uses concrete past experiences;
  • ii.) the novice often views situations discretely where the expert sees situations as part of a whole;
  • iii.) the novice is often a detached observer where the expert is an involved performer (Daley, 1999).

A striking difference when considering novices and experts is that novices are often hindered by specifics of the job, where experts are often hindered by the system.  Novices prefer, and best learn formally, where experts learn best informally, often in conjunction with their peers.  Novice professionals prefer learning strategies like memory and therefore accumulate information, while the expert professional uses dialogue to create a knowledge base (Daley, 1999).

I think, most important to consider, are some practical aspects of facilitating adult learning.  According to Knowles, there are six assumptions related to motivation of adults:

  1. Adults need to know the reason for learning something (Need to Know)
  2. Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities (Foundation).
  3. Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction (Self-concept).
  4. Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives (Readiness).
  5. Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented (Orientation).
  6. Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators (Motivation).

Daley, B.J. (1999). Novice to expert: an exploration of how professionals learn.  Adult Education Quarterly, 49, 4, 133-147.

Knowles, M. S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From. (Revised Edition). Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall/Cambridge

»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa