Lots of adults want to have as many learning opportunities as possible in order to be aware of and cope with any life change and challenge. Marriages, career goals, retirement, or divorces – all this turns out to be a strong motivation for adults to get one more education and develop own skills.
The idea that adults get their education in different ways in comparison to students becomes the major factor of developing a new form of education, now known as andragogy. Andragogy is closely connected to another form of learning, pedagogy, however, these two concepts cannot be equated to each other, because the major focus of andragogy is adults but not child learning, their motivation, and characteristics.
Andragogy as a Form of Learning
The necessity of adults to get education and learn the material in accordance with their interests and skills played a crucial role in the development of this new form of learning. It was Malcolm Knowles, who worked extensively in order expand the use of the term “andragogy” as a new concept in education and presented six main assumptions concerning adult learners: (1) every adult should be aware about the reason of learning; (2) personal experience is the background for adult education; (3) adults are the only ones, who are responsible for their attitude to education; (4) adults are ready to learn new material and comprehend how important the chosen course is; (5) adults have life-centered orientation; (6) adults are eager to be internally motivated (Ozuah, 2005). These are the major points, which help to distinguish andragogy as a significant form of learning.
Andragogy and Pedagogy
It is necessary to admit that andragogy and pedagogy are two absolutely different concepts: the former is all about adult education, and the latter is concentrated on child learning. Children and adults chose various ways to study; their motivation is a bit different, and teachers should choose different strategies in order to study children and adults. This is why pedagogy is considered to be a theory that helps to find out the best methods to learn children, and andragogy is the theory that makes adult learning more interesting, appropriate, and effective.
Characteristics of Adult Learners
Without any doubts, adult learners have many differences in comparison to ordinary college students: they have more duties and responsibilities like families and work, and their education can be disturbed by different situations like childcare or transportation (Cercone, 2008). The peculiar feature of many adult learners is that they are volunteers.
They try to combine their duties in work, family, and education in order not to neglect any of them. Adult learners are more task-oriented in comparison to child learners, who very often do not see a reason of their education, this is why adults define the purpose of their education, have reasons, and try to succeed in their education independently.
In general, andragogy is quite a new concept that has a considerable influence on society’s development and growth. Lots of adults want to enlarge their knowledge, but still, they do not have enough opportunities to get proper education. This is why the approaches, discussed within the frames of andragogy, and focus on the adult learners’ characteristics distinguish andragogy as a separate and important form of learning. If an adult wants to study, he/she should have proper conditions for this activity, and the professionals in the sphere of andragogy should care about these conditions.
(2008, April). Characteristics of Adult Learners with Implications for Online Learning Design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.
Retrieved September 5, 2009, from Education Research Complete database. Ozuah, P. (2005, March). First, There Was Pedagogy And Then Came Andragogy. Einstein Journal of Biology & Medicine, 21(2), 83-87. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from Academic Search Complete database.