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Andragogy Over Pedagogy

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Elizabeth Martin Elizabeth Martin 375 Points

Malcolm Knowles is accredited for the development of Andragogy. Andragogy originally was the theory of how adults learned but has since been adapted to include how any student learns. Andragogy is important because educators should not just focus on how they teach students, but how those students learn. Knowles’ Theory of Andragogy outlines the five assumptions teachers make about adult learners:

  1. Self-concept: Adults move from being dependent on others to self-direction as they mature.
  2. Experience: Adults gain experience as they grow that, in turn, becomes a valuable tool in learning.
  3. Readiness to learn: The priorities of adults shift as they begin to increase value and are therefore more ready to learn about his or her role in society.
  4. Orientation to learning: Adults change their perspectives on learning as they grow, moving from procrastination to immediate application and from subject interest to problem-solving.
  5. Motivation to learn: Adults move from extrinsic towards intrinsic motivation as they grow and mature.

These five assumptions are specific to adults but can be similar to assumptions often made by educators of children. Educators are responsible for putting these assumptions into practice in the classroom. Knowles had 6 suggestions on how to do so:

  1. Promote a positive classroom climate centered around cooperative learning
  2. Research the interests and the needs of each adult learner
  3. Create learning goals based on the interests and needs outlined above
  4. Build on each subsequent activity to achieve the learning objectives
  5. Co-create strategies, resources, and methods for instruction
  6. Review each activity and make modifications where necessary, while continually evaluating the next steps for learning.

These 6 suggestions are commonly found in practice in elementary school classrooms. Although Andragogy began as an adult learning theory it is being adapted to include children learners. Research is still new in this field but the change in our thinking could have great benefits for our student's educational experiences. 

Read more about Andragogy here: 

Annie Mast Annie Mast 410 Points

Great post Elizabeth!
Applying Knowles’ idea of Andragogy into elementary classrooms is important to create a student-centered classroom environment. I believe that educators need to treat teaching students like they are teaching adults by following Knowles’ Assumptions about adult learning. Knowles’ assumptions about adult learning can be very useful in the elementary classroom as students will be able to create a deeper understanding of the content they are learning. The suggestions that Knowles provides to put these assumptions into practice align with many values that teachers should integrate into their classroom.

Kai Johnson Kai Johnson 1300 Points


Thank you. This all great infromation to know. My college professor preaches about andragogy over pedagogy all the time. He believes that pedagogy is outdated and all elementary teachers should use the concept of andragogy in their classrooms. The suggestions on how to put these ideas into practice will be extremely helpful for me in my future teaching career!

Jeff Goldfinger Jeff Goldfinger 155 Points

Great post Elizabeth. Thank you.

In support of this concept, I recently came across a fascinating paper by Dr. Eugena Griffin from Hostos Community College (part of the CUNY system). She developed a teaching method called Cultural Empowerment Teaching Andragogy (CETA) and applied it to a cohort of 250 quintessential (my word, not hers) non-traditional college students (i.e., mostly of color, many ESL, lower socioeconomic classes, etc.). The positive results (increased exam numerical grades, increase course letter grades, increased use of office hours, increased levels of class participation) were highly encouraging.

It occurred to me while reading your post, Griffin's CETA approach is unarguably applicable at primary and secondary school levels and can be quickly adopted with little or no additional institutional resources.

Here's a link to her paper:




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