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Andragogy in Context

Andragogy in Context


This lesson explains how to use the 6 assumptions of androgogy in the design of professional learning activities.

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Hello there, and welcome. In this lesson I'm going to explain how to use the six assumptions of andragogy when designing professional learning activities. Let's get started.

Have you ever been in a production like a play or a musical? I recently had a small part, exactly one line, in a school play. The production was huge and included set changes, costume designs, music, over 100 student actors, and many, many volunteers.

As I stood in the wings waiting for my cue, I was struck by how choreographed the entire process was. I had to appear on stage exactly on cue, so the person following me could do the same, and so on. I had to assume the props, lights, sound would all be working. And they had to assume I would deliver my line just right. Being aware of these assumptions really helped me nail my line.

Researcher, Malcolm Knowles, is considered the father of andragogy. In the early 1980s, he developed six assumptions of adult learning, as well as the following strategies for adult educators facilitating professional learning, and professional developments.

Set a climate for learning in the classroom. Keep in mind things like time, space, and materials. Just as you would with young learners, develop objectives based on the adult's needs, interests, and skill level. Design sequential activities to achieve the objectives-- adult learners like to know what to expect.

Work collaboratively with the learner to select methods and resources for instruction. Similar to how we progress monitor children's growth, taking the pulse of the learner is important. By evaluating the quality of the learning experience, you'll be able to make adjustments while assessing needs for further learning.

Transparency is important, and effective teachers explain their reasons for teaching specific skills. Effective instruction for adults is more task oriented, as opposed to content oriented. And finally, involve the learn in real life problems in order to come up with real life solutions.

Assumption number one, as a person matures his or her self concept moves from that of being a dependent personality toward one of a self-directing human being. This is often referred to as the learner's self concept.

Think about an awful professional development that you've participated in. You probably didn't choose it, design it, or decide how to apply it. A common mistake many districts make is bringing in an outsider that is not familiar with your specific needs. Although knowledgeable and well trained, it's not what the staff needed. A better approach is to tap into your in-house experts, and together develop a meaningful learning experience.

Assumption number two, an adult accumulates a growing reservoir of experience, which is a rich resource for learning. This assumption is referred to as experience. This is usually the jumping off point when designing professional development with and for adults. This means knowing that adults have a depth of experience to share, and have the ability to apply it to other situations.

By being aware of the experience of the participants, planners can create better opportunities for them. For example, if you are providing teachers with training on how to input grades into a new learning management system, it would behoove you to know if anyone else has used something like it before. If they had, this would dramatically alter how you would approach the teaching.

Assumption number three, the readiness of an adult to learn is closely related to the developmental tasks of his or her social role. The assumption is referred to as readiness to learn. According to Malcolm Knowles, the social roles of adulthood create a need for learning. In other words, as we take on new and challenging situations, we develop a strong need to learn in order to address the problem now.

Adult learners want to know how their learning is going to be applied to planning and building initiatives into the work that they do every day. It is the job of the organizer to explain the urgency of the learning, and stress the importance of the information being learned, and to emphasize how it could be immediately applied.

For instance, a school decides to train its staff in how to use iPads in the classroom. However, there are only a handful of iPads in the building and getting them is a chore. The training would be far more effective if a better system was put into place that would allow teachers better access to the iPads.

Assumption number four, there's a change in time perspective as people mature from future application of knowledge to immediacy of application, thus an adult is more problem-centered than subject-centered in learning. This principle applies to professional development designers because they should be aware of the importance of the problem-centered mentality of their adult learners.

The PD designer can consider whether there is a problem to be solved, and how to encourage participation to solve the problem from the adult learner's point of view. For example, if a staff was having difficulty teaching writing, it would be important for the presenters to realize and understand what type of problems they were having with the teaching of writing before they presented any information.

Assumption number five, the most powerful motivations are internal, rather than external. This assumption is referred to as internal motivation. Adults do not like to have their time wasted, and this is especially true for teachers.

When participating in professional development, it is absolutely essential that participants see the value in it otherwise they will tune it out, or even worse, sabotage it. On the other hand, when motivated, a learner's self-esteem and confidence are given a boost. Keep the notion of motivation in mind when planning learning opportunities for adults.

Imagine a group of art, music, and physical educators being asked to attend a full day training on a new math curriculum. How motivated would they be knowing that at that time they could've spent working on issues that affect their day-to-day practice. They would be much better served meeting together to plan ways to collaborate with classroom teachers about connecting their lessons to topics being covered in the classrooms, like math.

And finally, assumption number six. Adults need to know why they need to learn something. This assumption is referred to as the need to know. Adults have a need to know the purpose of what they're learning, and how they can apply it to their immediate situation. If a teacher is going to learn about a particular tool or application, they need to know when and how they're going to use it.

Here's an example of this. A teacher might attend a conference on integrating technology in the classroom. The presenter spends a great deal of time talking about iPad apps. Unfortunately, the teacher attending doesn't have iPads. A solution would be for the presenter to have a better sense of who was in the audience.

So it's time to go ahead and summarize, and this won't take long at all. In this lesson we took a close look at Malcolm Knowles' six assumptions of adult learning, and gave some examples of what they might look like in action.

Here's today's food for thought. The next time you attend a professional development, reflect on these six assumptions. It will give you a good idea on how well the organizer, or planner kept the adult learner in mind.

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The additional resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that'll help you most. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Andragogy in Context"

(00:00-00:11) Intro

(00:12-00:52) Lights, Camera, Action

(00:53-02:03) Strategies

(02:04-02:41) Assumption #1

(02:42-03:24) Assumption #2

(03:25-04:23) Assumption #3

(04:24-05:06) Assumption #4

(05:07-06:00) Assumption #5

(06:01-06:40) Assumption #6

(06:41-07:22) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

9 Tips To Apply Adult Learning Theory to eLearning

This article by Christopher Pappas applies adult learning theory to online learning and professional development, offering important considerations for engagement and motivation.

Andragogy and Teacher Professional Development

This article introduces a study designed to determine the degree to which andragogical strategies are applied to teacher professional learning, and what impact those strategies have on teachers as learners in the improvement of their practices.