Adult Learning Theory: Andragogy

The investigation of adult learning would be based on the researches of the leading professionals in the educational and pedagogical areas. The core purpose of the study is to support the idea that completely different approaches are required to adults and children educative process. It is important to refer to the fact that adult learning is covered by the term andragogy (pedagogic for adults). Knowels (1984) offers the andragogical process model for learning. Author contrasts it with the content model. The core emphasis is made on the fact that the process model is applied by the majority of the traditional educative systems. The main difference between the two discussed models is the following: in the traditional approach towards the educative process, the educator (teacher, tutor, or coach) makes a decision concerning the transmission of a particular skill or knowledge. After that, this body of content is arranged into the logical units. Also, the educator is responsible for the selection of the most effective means of this content transmission. These means may be presented in the following forms: films, tapes, readings, lectures, and laboratory exercises. After making the choice of a particular means, the educator develops the sequence in which the information is presented to the students. That is the design (or the content) model (Tough, 1979).

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In the case of the andragogical teaching, the preparation is carried out in the following manner – the advance of the set of procedures is developed for the learners’ involvement in accordance with the set of the below listed elements: (1) learner preparation; (2) conductive for the educational process climate establishment; (3) developing the mechanism for the mutual planning; (4) needs for the learning process diagnosing; (5) formulation of the program objectives directed to the core needs of the educational process satisfaction; (6) pattern for the learning experience designing; (7) conducting the learning experiences with the available and acceptable materials and techniques; (8) learning outcomes monitoring, analysis, and evaluation.

In his Theory of Adult Learning, Malcolm Knowles (1984) has outlined the integrated set of assumptions concerning the adult learning theory. They are the following: the motivation of adults to learn is mainly based on the experience need and interests, which the learning is expected to cover and satisfy.

That is why there is the set of the appropriate starting points, which are the basis for the adult learning activities organization. Also, it is important to put an emphasis on the fact that the adults’ attitude towards the educational process is life-centered; that is why it is obvious that the appropriate units for the adult educational process organization are the life situations and case studies rather than subjects (Knowels, et al, 1984).

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The experience is considered as the best source of the adults learning. That is why the core methodological approach, which is to be chosen for the adult education, is the experience analysis. Adult people have a need to be self-directing. Therefore, the teachers’ role in this case is engaging the participants of the educational process into the mutual inquiry with the educator rather than applying the traditional tool of the his/her own knowledge and practical experience transmission to the students and then the evaluation of the students’ awareness in a particular area of knowledge (Weinstein, et al, 1986).

Finally, Malcolm Knowles (1984) puts an emphasis on the fact that the individual differences among people increase with age; that is why the education of adults should imply the optimal provision for the differences in time, style, place of learning, etc.

The next article, which has been investigated, is mainly dedicated to the differentiation of the approaches towards the adult and children learning. According to the opinion of Alan Rogers and Knuld Illeris, there are two types of learning – formal (learning-conclusions) and informal (task-conclusions). While taking into account the fact that these types of the educational methodologies are presented both in children and adult education, there is no essential difference between the ways of their practical implementation (Rogers and Illeris, 2003).

At the same time, it is important to consider the fact that it is possible to observe the different types of learning from different perspectives. In accordance with the opinion of Tough (1979), there is a significant difference between the accommodative (transcending) and assimilative (adding) learning. Other authors, in turn, put an emphasis on the differences between the social and individual learning (Tough, 1979).

Authors pay additional attention to the fact that even while taking into account the problem of distinguishing between the adults and children’s existence in the light of not only social factors, but also constructions, it is possible to make conclusion that children and adults have got the set of different motivations and that there are different problematic sets among them. Alan Rogers prefers to distinguish adult and children learners, while referring to the factors of their own self horizons and self image. In other words, it is possible to make an assumption that the identities of adult and children learners are constructed from the different elements.

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The last issue to be discussed in the scope of this paper is the self-managed learning (SML). This is an approach towards the educational process, which implies the trend when the individual is motivated to manage one’s own learning process. In other words, the core responsibility for the learning outcomes is put on the individual (Illeris, 2004). The person takes the responsibility for the set of the following decision-making: making a choice of the information to be learned, the way of organizing the educational process, time management, motivation for learning particular issues, etc.

SML is directly interrelated with the responsibility for decisions related to the set of the following issues: what to learn, in which manner, when and where to get particular knowledge.

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