Creating an Andragogy for Adult Learning Advantage

Creating an Andragogy for Adult Learning Advantage

Michael D. Hamlin
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4516-4.ch009
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The goal of this chapter is to provide a framework for creating learning activities for adult learners that rest on a firm theoretical foundation and are based on a definition that highlights the actual learner characteristics involved in successful adult student performance. To achieve this goal, it is important to establish a definition of adult learning that can be used to guide the selection of the important instructional elements that must be addressed in the design of learning activities that provide adult learning advantage. This chapter will provide a framework for the design of an adult andragogy that incorporates teaching and learning principles derived from theory and research in the learning sciences.
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The great educator, E.L. Boyer (1997) in his Scholarship Reconsidered, provided a perspective on the goal of teaching that can serve to inform the goal of creating adult learning advantage. Boyer stated that teaching should, ‘‘…create a common ground of intellectual commitment...[and] stimulate active, not passive, learning and encourage students to be critical, creative thinkers, with the capacity to go on learning after their college days are over’’ (p. 24).

Adult learners tend to have different characteristics than traditional learners (Rabourn, BrckaLorenz & Shoup, 2018; Knowles, 1978, 1980). Adult learning advantage can be achieved if an institution adopts an educational philosophy that addresses these characteristics though the adoption of a model of learning that is student-centered and aims to produce student agency, that is, autonomous and self-determined learners. To achieve the greatest adult learning advantage, the ability to direct one’s own learning, it is important to deliver instruction in a way that integrates knowledge, cognitive and behavioral skills in active learning exercises. The design of learning activities for this type of adult learning requires a unique andragogy, a teaching philosophy and methodology with a sound theoretical foundation that addresses the unique characteristics of the adult learner.

The genesis of an andragogy for adult learning advantage must be nested in the deliberations of a school or department as it engages in reflection about the best way to educate its students. This is a process many institutions may go through for accreditation and the culmination of this exercise should produce a cohesive educational philosophy that defines and guides both instruction and assessment. It is the perspective of this chapter that the institutional educational philosophy needs to be focused on producing student agency in learning by addressing the unique features of adult learners as well as incorporating what is known about student learning from the learning sciences.

Once an institutional educational philosophy is created, the next phase of andragogy specification for agency involves translating the educational philosophy into a learning model that will integrate teaching and learning, assessment and student support. This chapter will aim to show how the process of defining an andragogy that supports adult learning agency requires the development of an integrated learning model that incorporates an understanding of adult student learning and how student support personnel, faculty and a learning management system (if one is used) will work in concert to promote student agency and success.

The lynchpin of efforts to produce adult student agency is a learning environment where student efforts to learn interact with the learning and assessment activities developed from the institutional educational philosophy. This learning environment, or educational interface, is the instantiation of the institution’s goal to produce students who are agentic, i.e., self-directed and intrinsically motivated to learn.

Figure 1 below is a basic schematic of a process for developing an educational interface that affords active learning and assessment activities that interact with adult student learning characteristics to produce student agency.

Figure 1.

Schematic of process for developing an andragogy for student agency


The process begins by translating the institutional educational philosophy into an integrated learning model that is comprised of a standard teaching methodology that addresses basic human needs thought to be critical to the development of agentic students and an integrated support system focused on student success. This integrated learning model is used to produce active learning and assessment activities that become the educational interface with which students interact in their efforts to learn. The interface of student-centered learning and assessment activities and adult learning characteristics produces affordances for students to develop agentic learning strategies which will serve them in all their learning endeavors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Apprenticeship: Traditional method of training people into a profession that has powerful features for learning. Researchers have identified effective learning and teaching techniques from apprenticeship learning and applied them to classroom learning. pedagogy.

Student Agency: Agency is shaped through considerations of past habits of mind and action, present judgments of alternatives for action and projections of the future and efforts to develop agency are relational and social, and situated in structural, cultural and socio-economic-political contexts of action.

Contextualization: Practical reasoning and requires that the practitioner select the elements of professional knowledge most relevant to the given context.

Extrinsic Motivation: Motivation caused by external regulation such as with rewards as in operant conditioning.

Situated Learning: What some have called the situative perspective views learning and cognition as distributed over activity systems and communities of practice rather than residing strictly in the head of individuals. The situative perspective looks at learning, cognition, motivation and achievement as social activities and applies the sociocultural view to research in classroom learning.

Self-Efficacy: How well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations.

Cognitive Apprenticeship: Extension of apprenticeship training techniques to the teaching of cognitive and metacognitive skills.

Intrinsic Motivation: Motivation internal to the person at work when one participates in an activity for the inherent pleasure of the behavior.

Andragogy: The method and practice of teaching adults.

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