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A Comparison of Andragogy to Pedagogy

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A Comparison of Andragogy to Pedagogy

Before the differences between Andragogy and Pedagogy can be examined a working definition of both needs to be established. Pedagogy is derived from the Greek words paid and agogus, which translates to the art and science of teaching children (Sarapin and Bertoline, 2000). Pedagogy is in actuality the study of being a teacher, the process of teaching, and the correct use of instructional strategies (“Pedagogy,” 2011). Pedagogy helps teachers understand the role of learning theory in the design and function of class activities (Okojie, Olinzock, and Okojie-Boulder, 2006). Pedagogy evolved in 7th and 12th century schools of Europe and its foundational theories about learning and learners are based on observations of monks teaching simple skills to children. These ideas were further adopted and reinforced in 18th and 19th century Europe and North America elementary schools. Even in the beginning stages of the scientific study of learning around the turn of the 20th century, research was limited to mostly the reactions of children. Because of this pedagogy evolved into a learning model predominately for the education of pre-adults (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000). In the early 20th century when adult education began emerging, teachers of adults began seeing problems with the pedagogical model. One of the biggest problems was that pedagogy proposes that the purpose of education was the transmittal of knowledge and skills through the use of lectures, assigned readings, drills, quizzes, note memorizing, and examinations. Another problem with the pedagogic model is that many of the assumptions about the characteristics of learners do not fit the adult students. Because of this Adult learners began to get frustrated and resist the pedagogic teaching strategies, causing the dropout rates for adult students to increase (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000).
Andragogy was first introduced in 1833 by German educator Alexander Kapp, but wasn't developed into a theory of adult education until the mid 1960s by American educator Malcolm Knowles (Reischmann, 2004). Andragogy is derived from the Greek words aner and agogus, which translates to the art and science of helping adults learn (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000). Andragogy consists of the strategies focused on adult learning; the theories and practices of lifelong adult education. Knowles defined andragogy more specifically as the study of education and learning of adults in all its forms of expression (Reischmann, 2004). Knowles argued that the adult learning process was distinctly different than a child’s process. He proposed four key ideas that makeup the basis of adult learning (Kroth, Taylor, Linder, & Yopp, 2009).
Before we examine Knowles' key ideas on adult learning we need to examine what distinguishes and a pre-adult learner from an adult learn. The deciding factor in determining which learning model, pedagogy or andragogy, works best for learning is the learner. What constitutes an adult learner, is it biological age, level of maturity, educational level, or a combination of factors? Age is most often considered when describing an adult learner. Many educators assume that it is the difference in years that distinguishes an adult learner from a younger learner. But the difference goes beyond age and years (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000). Adult learners in the US are categorized as nontraditional students. Nontraditional students are students who fit into one of seven criteria: delayed enrollment into college from high school, attends college part time, works full time while enrolled, is financially independent, has dependents other than a spouse, is a single parent, or does not have a high school diploma (Adult Learners, 2011). Adult learners approach learning differently than younger learners, they are more self-guided, they bring more to a learning situation because of their wider experience, they take more away from a learning situation, and they require learning "to make sense" (Adult Learners, 2012).
Pedagogy is still the most dominant form of instruction in America. Pedagogy is sometimes referred to as the traditional or teacher-directed approach to education. Andragogy is a competing idea for instructing adult learners and has been gaining momentum within the past three decades (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990). Pedagogy is teacher-directed instruction which places the student in a submissive role and requires obedience to the teacher's instructions. Pedagogy assumes that learners only need to know what the teacher teaches them. The result is an environment that actively promotes dependency on the teacher (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990).
Adult Learners are problem-centered, results-oriented, self-directed, skeptical about new information, seek education that applies directly to their needs, and accept responsibility for their own learning (Adult Learners, 2012). They tend to be independent, motivated to learn, and have a need to be self-directing. Using the pedagogical model to teach adult learners often produces tension, resentment, and resistance in individuals (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990). The goal of adult education should be self-actualization; the adult learning process should engage the whole emotional, psychological, and intellectual being. Adult educators should assist adults in developing their full potential. Malcolm Knowles proposed andragogy as the teaching methodology to achieve this end. Knowles saw the teacher is a facilitator who aided adults to become self-directed learners (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000).
The andragogy model stresses how important it is to adults that their past experiences be used and valued, that their own individual ways of knowing and understanding be taken into account, and this awareness is applied to self-directed life-long learning (Ausburn and Brown, 2006).
Knowles first introduced the term "andragogy" to adult educators in 1968, while a professor of adult education at Boston University. The growth and development of andragogy as an alternative model of instruction has helped to improve the teaching of adults. His contributions to this system have influenced the thinking of countless educators of adults (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990). Knowles compared his andragogical model the pedagogical model of adult development in order to distinguish between the pedagogical and andragogical approaches to adult educational programs (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000). He later defined the term as the art and science of helping adults learn. His viewpoint had changed by 1980 to suggest that andragogy was just another model of assumptions about adult learners that could be used in conjunction with the pedagogical model of assumptions. He further believed that the models should be viewed as two ends of a spectrum with ideal resolution of adult education falling somewhere between the two ends" (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990).
In the pedagogical model the teacher decides in advance what knowledge or skill needs to be taught, arranges the instructional content into logical units, selects the most efficient method for teaching the content, and then develops a plan for presenting the content to the learner (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000).
By contrast, the andragogical model is a process which provides the tools and environment to help the learner learn the content. In the andragogical model, the teacher acts as a facilitator and drafts the procedures to involve the learner in a process that includes (a) establishing a climate favorable to learning, (b) creating a instrument for mutual planning, (c) analyzing the needs of learning, (d) creating content to satisfy these needs, (e) devising a blueprint of learning experiences, (f) directing these learning experiences, and (g) appraising the learning results (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000).
Knowles’ andragogical model is founded on four basic beliefs about the adult learner, which can all be traced back to the ideas about a learner's ability, need, and desire to take responsibility for learning: adult learners are independent and self-directedness, adult learners have accumulated experiences to use as a foundation to build learning, and adult learners willingness to learn is tied to the developmental tasks of social roles, adult learners want to apply what they have learned immediately and they have are performance-centered (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990). These ideas characterize much of what is important about adult learning and development. The first two ideas are developed from humanistic philosophy and psychology and the last two ideas explore adult learning from the psychosocial development perspective (Holmes and Abington-Cooper, 2000).
Malcolm Knowles as a proponent of andragogy has brought significant attention to adult education as a field of its own in the past thirty years. The andragogical approach to teaching and learning applied correctly by skilled and dedicated facilitators can impact the adult learner in a positive way (Hiemstra and Sisco, 1990).

Adult Learner, (2011). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 6, 2012 from
Adult Learners, (2012). Rochester Institute of Technology. Retrieved 15 January, 2012 from
Ausburn L. and Brown, D. (2006). Learning Strategy Patterns and Instructional Preferences of Career and Technical Education Students. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 43(4). Retrieved from
Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Moving from Pedagogy to Andragogy. Individualizing Instruction. Retrieved January 15, 2012 from
Holmes, G. and Abington-Cooper, M. (2000). Pedagogy vs. Andragogy: A False Dichotomy?. The Journal of Technology Studies, 26(2), 50-55. Retrieved from
Kroth, M., Taylor, B., Linder, L., & Yopp, M. (2009). Improving Your teaching Using Synergistic Andragogy. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 46(3). Retrieved from
Okojie, M., Olinzock, A., and Okojie-Boulder T. (2006). The Pedagogy of Technology Integration. The Journal of Technology Studies, 32(2), 66-71. Retrieved from
Pedagogy, (2011). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 6, 2012 from
Reischmann, J. (2004). Andragogy. (Version Sept. 9, 2004). Retrieved January 6, 2012 from

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