Andragogy is a theory of adult learning and teaching. It is frequently compared to pedagogy, which is closely related but deals primarily with the teaching of children. Malcolm Knowles introduced the term andragogy in an article he wrote in 1968, in order to distinguish adult learning from preadult education, or pedagogy. Andragogy is “based on a number of assumptions about the adult learner” (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007, p. 84). Although andragogy “became a rallying point for those trying to define the field of adult education as separate from other areas of education” (Merriam et al., 2007, p. 85), to many others in the field andragogy was a source of controversy, and arguments were advanced by various educators questioning Knowles’ assumptions and his theory in general; for instance, Hartree (1984) questioned whether Knowles had shown that “adult learning was different from child learning, and whether there was a theory at all…[or] just principles of good practice” (Merriam et al., 2007, pp. 85-86). Knowles (1989) himself stated that he “prefers to think of [andragogy] as a model of assumption about learning or a conceptual framework that serves as a basis for an emergent theory” (p. 112, as cited by Merriam et al., 2007, p. 87). Despite its focus on adult learner-centricity, even Knowles eventually realized that the separation between pedagogy and andragogy was not as clearly delineated as he had originally presumed, and he came to the conclusion that “pedagogy-andragogy represents a continuum ranging from teacher-directed to student-directed learning and that both approaches are appropriate with children and adults, depending on the situation” (Merriam et al., 2007, p. 87).
Andragogy as an adul...
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...n using external motivation such as threats of failure, or maintenance of a particular grade point average, and that adult learners “need to know why they need to learn something” (emphasis added; as cited by Merriam et al., 2007, p. 84).
Andragogy in the military system of instruction could become an effective alternative to traditional methods of instruction; however, there must be a fundamental cultural change, among those charged with course content and learning objectives, and those tasked to deliver this knowledge, to allow military learners to be treated as the adults they are.
Galbraith, M. W. (2004). Adult learning methods: A guide for effective instruction (3rd ed.).
Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive
guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
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