Online College Courses for Credit

2 Tutorials that teach Adult Learning and Andragogy
Take your pick:
Adult Learning and Andragogy

Adult Learning and Andragogy

Author: Gino Sangiuliano

In this learning, students will examine Adult Learning and the Andragogy.

See More

Like what you're learning?

Adult Learning Theory

Take the whole course from Capella University FOR FREE


Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Board, Pixabay,; Suit Man, Pixabay,; Thinking Man, Pixabay,; Calendar, Pixabay,; Question Ball, Pixabay,; Watch, Pixabay,; Hat, Clker,; photo of "un-conference" by Gino Sanguiliano

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hello there and welcome. My name is Gino Sangiuliano. And in this lesson, we will review adult learning and andragogy. We will do so by taking a look at the six assumptions of adult learning. Let's get started.

Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding professional learning experiences for me has been organizing technology un-conferences for teachers. If you're not familiar with the un-conference model, here's what it is in a nutshell: we find a location, invite a bunch of teachers, find out what they want to learn about, find out when the room has knowledge or expertise, and break into groups and share. And together we learn.

These meetings are held on Saturday mornings and are completely free. There's no agenda, because we make it when we get there. This format has given me and many others the opportunity to learn what we want, how we want, and when we want. To me, this represents an example of adult learning at its best.

There are three major adult learning theories that you will hear about in this unit. They are andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformational learning. Of the three, andragogy is the most popular theory for adult learning.

The founding father of andragogy is considered to be American educator Malcolm Knowles. In 1980, he developed six assumptions for adult learning that focus on how adults learn as compared to how youngsters learn. He concluded that there are significant differences between the process an adult learner engages in, which is andragogy, versus that of how young students learn, which is pedagogy.

As we know, teachers wear two hats: that of facilitator's of learning, but also that of receivers of adult learning. Gaining an understanding of these theories will help you when creating professional development and growth opportunities.

Malcolm Knowles spent time as an adult educator for the YMCA of Boston in the 1940s, but was unable to find resources on how adults learn. He found that much of research focused on pedagogy, which is how children learn. So he began to focus on differences between the assumptions made about pedagogy and its counterpart andragogy.

As a result, four assumptions were developed by Knowles. Please note that the fifth and sixth options were added later. Thus, completing his six assumptions of adult learning.

Just keep in mind that in many publications and documents, the same assumptions are referred to as principles. To better understand his theory, one should know that andragogy is defined as the art and science of helping adults learn. As we go through them, you will see that each assumption is accompanied by implications for program design or instruction to help the adult learner.

Assumption 1, self-concept. As a person matures, his or her self concept moves from dependent to one of more self-directed. Therefore, adults are much more likely to want to take more control of their own learning. There are so many learning opportunities out there that it's a matter of finding the one that's right for you. This can also be referred to as the learners self-concept.

Number 2, experience. When adults are learning, instruction often starts with experience. Bringing what you already know to a situation can enhance learning. As adults, we have accumulated many experiences over the years that we can apply to new learning. With our students, we sometimes refer to this as activating prior knowledge.

Adults are more ready to learn something as their social and professional roles evolve. If it's something an adult will use in their daily life, personally or professionally, they're much more ready to learn. We see this a lot with technology.

For example, I've met individuals who struggle with certain computer programs or applications that they are forced to use-- but have no problem when it comes to learning social media or online shopping. This assumption is often referred to as one's readiness to learn.

Number 4, as people mature, they're time perspective changes from future application of knowledge to being able to apply the knowledge now. Adults have the ability to take what they are learning now and apply it immediately. For example, as a teacher you learn about using the daily five in your classroom and you go out and you do it, as opposed to just learning about something and storing that knowledge for later use.

Knowles published the first four assumptions in 1980. Four years later, he added the following: assumption number 5, internal motivation. Adults are more likely to be driven by internal motivation to learn rather than external motivators. You don't see many adults who try harder because they might get a sticker on their paper.

And finally the sixth assumption, the need to know. Adults have the need to know why they are learning something. Unfortunately, we have all probably experienced sitting in a workshop or professional development thinking, why do I have to know this? It's really not at all that different than a high school student saying that about his Spanish class or something.

So it's time to go ahead and summarize what we learned in this lesson. We focused on the development of Malcolm Knowles adult theory called andragogy. Specifically, his six learning assumptions: self-concept, experience, readiness, problem-centered orientation, internal motivation, and the need to know. You are an adult, and by watching this video, you just finished learning something. Think about the six assumptions and how they relate to this experience.

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply all this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks again for watching, we'll see you next time.

Notes on "Adult Learning and Andragogy"

(00:00-00:15) Intro

(00:16-01:00) Unconference

(01:01-02:34) Andragogy Overview

(02:35-03:34) Assumptions 1 & 2

(03:35-04:31) Assumptions 3 & 4

(04:32-05:13) Assumptions 5 & 6

(05:14-06:05) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – Infographic

This is a helpful infographic that explains Malcolm Knowles' 5 Assumptions of Adult Learners and 4 Principles of Andragogy.

8 Important Characteristics of Adult Learners

This article by Christopher Pappas explores the characteristics of adult learners and how to approach those characteristics when training teachers.