Andragogy: Adult Learning Theory

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First Subtopic: The History and Conceptualization of Andragogy
Edward Lindeman is thought by many to be the founder of contemporary adult education. His work in the area of adult education included the writing of articles, books, public presentations, assistance in the collegiate system as a lecturer of social work and as an associate pastor in the church (Brookfield 1986). Lindeman and Martha Anderson traveled to observe and analyze the German Folk High School system and the worker’s movement. Consequently, Lindeman and Anderson’s comparative research lead to the breakthrough of the German perception of andragogy. Their studies define andragogy as the “true method of adult learning” (1986). In 1968 at Boston University, the initial use of the term “andragogy” to attain prevalent notice of adult instructors occurred when Malcolm Knowles who at the time was an instructor of adult education, presented the term via journal article. In his 1970 book publication, he defined “andragogy” as the art and science of helping adults learn. The concept of self-directed learning, or SDL, maintained below reveals Knowles’ definition of SDL:
“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with our without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (Knowles, Holton, Swanson, 2011, p. 18)
The main interest in the above definition of SDL is the point the learner acquires 1) the ingenuity to engage in a learning experience, and 2) the accountability for finishing their education. After the learner ha...

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Works Cited

Brockett, R., & Hiemstra, R. (1991). Self-direction in adult learning. London and New York: Routledge. Retrieved from
Brookfield, S. D. (1986). Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Elias, J. L. (1979). Andragogy revisited. Adult Education, 29, 252-255.
Hadley, H. (1975). Development of an instrument to determine adult educators' orientations: Andragogical or pedagogical. (Doctoral dissertation, Boston University). Dissertation Abstracts International, 35, 7595a.
Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Moving from pedagogy to andragogy. Foundations of Adult Education: Critical and Contemporary Issues, Retrieved from
Knowles, M., Holton, E., & Swanson, R. (2011). The adult learner. (7th ed.). Burlington, MA: Taylor and Francis.
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