Academic journal article Journal of Adult Education

Applications of Andragogy in Multi-Disciplined Teaching and Learning

Academic journal article Journal of Adult Education

Applications of Andragogy in Multi-Disciplined Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt


Arguments regarding the distinction between child and adult learning have existed for decades. Pedagogy has a long tradition of providing educational guidance in which there is little differentiation between child and adult education. The two groups of learners are assumed to learn under the same philosophy. Conversely, andragogy, advanced by Malcolm Knowles in the 1970s, is a well-known approach to address the distinct needs of adult learners. Knowles' concept of andragogy has been widely adopted by educators from various disciplines around the world. Andragogy is based upon six assumptions: (a) self-directedness, (b) need to know, (c) use of experience in learning, (d) readiness to learn, (e) orientation to learning, and (f) internal motivation. This paper presented a synthesis of research that discussed the applications of Knowles' andragogy in different settings.

Developing Human Capital in a Global Economy

Globalization has become a common term in the 21st century. It brings about change in trade, economic, social, and educational issues (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). In order to survive in the global economy, businesses need to invest in advanced technology, modern machinery, and human capital to keep up with the changes in this volatile environment. Barney (1991) states that although competitors can easily imitate tangible assets such as technology and machinery, these assets are not sufficient to maintain competitiveness. The competitive advantage can be best sustained through human capital, and the development of human capital denotes education. Zmeyov (1998) states, "The main goal of education today is to provide individuals with a multifaceted training, and principally with knowledge and skills for creative activities, for adapting to the changes in the natural social environment ? and for lifelong learning" (p. 104). Therefore, education is essential to the development of skills and knowledge to compete in the 21 st century.

Having just identified education as a potential source to competitiveness is not an end task to itself. One needs to continue asking questions regarding the kinds of education to offer in schools, the approaches to use in classrooms, and ways in which to involve learners in the teaching and learning process. The discussion of these issues is prefaced below with a very brief history of teaching approaches.


The history of training can be traced back to the Stone Age period when it was just a process of transferring skills from parents to their children (Swanson & Holton, 2001). According to Swanson and Holton, the educational system became more organized during the Greek and Roman periods (100 B.C.-300 A.D). The organized form of education (the origin of pedagogy) was implemented in cathedral schools in the seventh century (Knowles et al., 1998 in Ozuah, 2005). Since the eighteenth century, pedagogy has frozen the educational system in which teachers are responsible for making fundamentally every learning decision (Ozuah, 2005). It is apparent that the pedagogical approach is still embedded in the present educational systems and will keep playing its popular role in the teaching and learning process.

According to Ozuah (2005), pedagogy is defined as "the art and science of teaching children" (p. 83). Pedagogy placed the importance on the role of the teacher in education (Bedi, 2004). The teacher decides what students should learn, how students are taught, and when the teaching and learning process will begin. Pedagogy is a teacher-oriented approach (Ozuah, 2005). According to Knowles et al. (1998), pedagogy makes various assumptions: (a) learners have dependent personalities, (b) learning is subject-oriented, (c) extrinsic motivation is an essential factor to learning, and (d) learner's previous experience is not relevant to learning (cited in Ozuah, 2005). Apparently, these assumptions do not fit all learners, especially adult learners. …

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