Malcolm Knowles (1990) introduces the concept of
andragogy, "the art and science of helping adults
learn." He contrasts andragogy to the more
traditional pedagogy, which he argues is not always
appropriate for teaching adults on the basis of crucial
assumptions about the characteristics of adult
learners that are different from the assumptions
about child learners on which traditional pedagogy is
The different assumptions of
pedagogy and andragogy
Differentiate between pedagogy and andragogy
based on Knowles’ different assumptions about
learners across six dimensions
The learner’s need to know
The learner’s self concept
The role of the Learner’s experience
The learner’s readiness to learn
The learner’s orientation to learning
The learner’s motivation
From this understanding of
Andragogy, Knowles proposes
Process Model of Human Resources Development
the use of Learning Contracts
Criticisms of Knowles’ Theory
Based largely on Humanistic values – should therefore
apply to children as well as adults
Many adult learners find it difficult to un-learn their
dependence on “teacher”
Considerable time is needed to develop self direction in
learning Adult learners quickly revert to a child like
approach when learning something new
Although with more life experiences to draw on, this does
not necessarily mean that the adult learner brings a
better quality of experience to their learning
Most telling criticism is that Knowles ignores the power of
social forces in education (Quinn, 2000)
The Experiential Approach
to Adult Learning
Learning by doing as opposed by reading!
This approach is characterised by active involvement and
interaction in the learning process, where the learner
has some degree of autonomy and flexibility and what
needs to be learned is centred on the student.
Major exponent = David Kolb (1984) proposed the Kolb
Learning Cycle (or the Lewinian Experiential Learning
The Experiential Approach to Adult Learning cont…
In this process, students engage and immerse
themselves fully in novel experiences.
They then observe and reflect on experiences from
a variety of perspectives.
The student then creates concepts that integrate
their observations into logical theories.
The student then applies these observations in
decision making and problem solving.
It was Donald Schon in the mid 1980s who firmly
placed Reflection as a concept of interest to
professional practice on the agenda. His focus is the
relationship which exists between academic
knowledge as defined by universities and the
competence involved in professional practice.
A number of strategies for reflecting on practice are
offered by a variety of writers (eg Johns (1992)
Model of Structured Reflection; Gibbs’ (1988)
Reflective Practice cont…
The notion of Critical Incident Analysis (Benner
(1984) and Wood (1998) also comes under this
umbrella and is still highly valued as a means of
making sense of experiences.
What about your own learning style?
From a professional and educational perspective,
consult some of the following theorists.
Honey’s (1982) learning styles
Activist – open to new experiences egocentric,
Reflectors – cautious, observers
Theorists – logical, rational, like systems and
Pragmatists – impatient, like new ideas, like to apply
new ideas as quickly as possible
What about your own learning style? Cont…
Kolb’s learning style inventory (1976)
Converger – focuses on single answers,
Diverger – produces vast amount of ideas
Assimilator – creates theory
Accommodator – carries out plans and experiments
Question for discussion
How can this information help or hinder us in our
work with students?