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Hungry Minds

Unlocking Andragogy: Understanding Adult Learning Theory

Ever heard of Andragogy? It's basically a fancy word for the art and science of how adults learn. This word was first used by Alexander Kapp, a German educator in 1833 who wanted to engage with the philosophy of lifelong learning. Andragogy has been reinvented by the influential educator Malcolm Knowles. Unlike kids, adults have their own unique way of soaking up knowledge. With children, it's called pedagogy.


Andragogy - Main Ideas

So, what are the main ideas behind Andragogy? There are five assumptions:

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1. Self-Directed: Adults like to call the shots. They're independent, prefer charting their own learning path, and thrive on autonomy, which is making decisions for themselves.

2. Tapping into Experience: Adults have been around the block a few times. They bring a wealth of real-life experiences to the table, which means their ideas are valuable contributions to learning, and they can use these experiences and contributions to tackle new challenges and learn new things.

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3. Real-Life Readiness: Learning needs to make sense for adults. It needs to be real, authentic, reality-focused. They're all about practicality and want to know why they're learning something and how it applies to their lives or jobs. When they come across a challenge, that's the time to learn how to solve it.

4. Problem-Centered Learning: Forget boring lectures. Adults love getting their hands dirty with learning that's centred around solving their real problems. It's all about diving into the nitty-gritty and coming up with practical solutions and ideas that are meaningful and useful to them.

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5. Intrinsic Motivation: Adults aren't just in it for the paycheck. They're driven by things like job satisfaction, personal growth, and self-esteem. Money's nice, but it's not the be-all and end-all.


And here's the kicker: Andragogy isn't just about delivering information—it's about sparking curiosity and encouraging adults to discover things for themselves. So, if you're designing a learning program, keep these principles in mind to keep your participants engaged and motivated.

Andragogy isn't just some fancy theory—it's the key to unlocking effective learning for adults.


Got more questions about Andragogy? Check out our FAQs below.


FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is andragogy adult learning theory?

Andragogy, the art and science of how adults learn, describes the key characteristics of adult learners (as distinct from children ‘pedagogy’).


Is andragogy the same as adult learning theory?

What is adult learning theory Knowles?

What are the five principles of andragogy?

Why is andragogy important in teaching adults?

What are the benefits of andragogy?

What are the four principles of andragogy?



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Hungry Minds Learning Group provide Learning Designs, eLearning Development and Instructional Design services. We have team members in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.

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