Andragogy Theory

Andragogy Theory

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In adult learning there have been few styles of learning but Malcolm Knowles theory has been around for nearly forty years. (Merriam, 2007) Knowles came up with six assumptions for his theory. Maturity helps one become more independent and self-directing. As an adult experiences life this makes their experiences a good resource. The adult’s readiness to learn that is associated with their work and social role. (Merriam, 2007) “ There is 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.” (Merriam, 2007, p. 84) Adults are motivated internally and they need to know why they are learning. (Merriam, 2007) Andragogy theory is a good way for instructors to encourage their students to learn and this will help them be successful.

Self-directed learning does improve as a person matures. There is a lot of debate on how self-directed learning really affects adult learning. “Self-directed learning appears to be at a juncture in terms of which direction research and theory building should take in order to advance our understanding of this important dimension of adult learning.” (Merriam, 2001, p. 10) Adults going back to college might struggle at first to get back into the habits of studying, writing papers, and etc. At this point in their lives they want to be successful. These adults will be more independent, take control of their learning and be self-directed so they can succeed.
Experience is a big component of andragogy. In the article participants kept talking about self-directed learning and learner-centeredness as part of their adult learning. (Ryan, Connolly, Grummell, & Finnegan, 2009) “They also mentioned the importance of experience (which they transformed through learning); the role of adult education in achieving greater social equality; recognizing the learning contexts and the need to belong; developing supportive learning (in which people learn from one another and co-construct knowledge) and creating equalitarian relationships between tutors and learners.” (Ryan et al., 2009, p. 131) Instructors are able to help their students by using their experience and being able to teach what they have learned.
The social role has been controversial. Mezirow has focused too much on the individual then the social role. (Merriam, 2007) “For Mezirow, though, the role of adult education is to promote and facilitate individual critical reflection in which “the only anticipated learning outcome….

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Is a more rational and objective assessment of assumptions” (Merriam, 2007, p. 154) Students are more successful when they have other students to study with. One student might see one way and another student another way and this will help each of them be successful. Students should have small groups and study partners to help them succeed.
The application of andragogy has become popular among educators and researchers. The andragogical approach helps students be prepared for their working environment. (Chang, 2010) The purpose of this approach would help students learn what they are interested in and can plan accordingly. (Chang, 2010) “Andragogy improves communication between the student and instructor, they work together as partners to design instructional content and methods to suit the learners need.” (Chang, 2010, p. 28) This will help the students and the instructors work together and have a successful learning experience.
A learner has to have the motivation, the independence, and the ability to want to learn and make the choices to be successful. Autonomy can play a big factor in the adult learner. (Merriam, 2007) There are four major components that influence an adult learner. “Their technical skills related to the learning process, their familiarity with the subject matter, their sense of personal competence as learners, and their commitment to learning at this point in time.” (Merriam, 2007, p. 123) A learner’s motivation can change depending what situation is going on in their lives. If a learner is having a lot of stress in their personal lives they might chose not to be as motivated with their studies. Being motivated is directly related to how they will succeed.
Students could have many reasons for learning. They might want to get a degree so they can find a better paying job. Some students like going to school and learning more and end up being long time students. There are three major goals with self-directed learning. “The first goal, that of enhancing the ability of adults to be self-directed in their learning, has generated the most research in self-directed learning. The fostering of transformational learning as central to self-directed learning, the second goal, is foundational to the third goal, that of promoting emancipatory learning and social action.” (Merriam, 2007, p. 128-130) The only way a student can be successful is if they want to learn. The student needs a reason and the desire to do the best job they can.
Andragogy has played a major role in adult learning over the past forty years. Instructors and students have learned to use all the andragogy roles so they can be successful. Being self-directed and independent learner as an adult makes adult learning easier. Having experience and working with other learners makes for a strong and successful student. Andragogy theory is a good way for instructors to encourage their students to learn and this will help them be successful.

Chang, S. (2010). Applications of Andragogy in Multi-Disciplined Teaching and Learning. Journal of Adult Education, 39, 25-35.
Merriam, S. B. (2001, Spring). Andragogy and Self-Directed Learning: Pillars of Adult Learning Theory. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning In Adulthood. A Comprehensive Guide (3 ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Ryan, A. B., Connolly, B., Grummell, B., & Finnegan, F. (2009). Beyond Redemption? Locating the Experience of Adult Learners and Educators. Adult Learner: The Irish Journal of Adult and Community Education, 129-133.

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