Foundations of Adult Education, Learning Characteristics, and Instructional Strategies

Foundations of Adult Education, Learning Characteristics, and Instructional Strategies

Mabel C. P. O. Okojie (Mississippi State University, USA) and Yan Sun (Mississippi State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 33
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1306-4.ch001


The chapter examines the concept of adult education by analyzing its emergence as an academic discipline, and assesses the philosophical ideologies through which it finds expression. It provides a critical review of andragogy as a framework for examining its perception as a teaching method exclusively for adult learners. The review reveals that andragogical principles can be used to develop learning strategies to support instruction for both children and adult learners. The unchallenged assumption that pedagogy is exclusively reserved for teaching children is critically assessed. To demonstrate that adults do learn from instructional strategies that are supported by both pedagogical and andragogical principles, a case study is conducted. Adults learn from similar methods as much as children. It indicates that the distinction between pedagogy and andragogy as principles of learning is somewhat spurious. The chapter discussed strategies for using digital theories to facilitate instruction.
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This chapter examines the concept of adult education by exploring its emergence and its application in teaching and learning. The position taken in this chapter is that the early introduction of adult education is rooted in the political and economic empowerment of the underprivileged members of the society. Adult education, like some theoretical concepts, is embedded in some social and economic programs, which include social capital, social justice, civil society, and community engagement. The relationship between adult education, on the one hand, and social capital, as well as civil society, on the other hand, are explored to accentuate its (adult education) philosophical base. Examining the historical underpinning of adult education and its ascendancy to a program area of study constitutes a part of the dialogue in this chapter. Most literature on adult education views it (adult education) primarily from the framework of the advanced economies with minimal recognition that it is a universal phenomenon. In developing countries, adult education represents a channel through which people transmit cultural heritage from one generation to the other, including providing knowledge and skill for the workforce. The argument in this chapter is that adult education and its methodologies are not peculiar to specific economies (industrialized nations).

Adult education is practiced globally and has a widespread application. The belief is that the evolution of adult education is about future progress in society (Nurullah and Naik, 1951). The US, 1984 Adult Education Amendments Act is designed “to expand the purpose of adult education by including the new national priority on literacy. The goal of the Amended Act is to “enable all adults to acquire basic literacy skills necessary to function to reemphasize the importance of literacy. The rationale of the Amended Act also includes helping the “States to improve educational opportunities for adults who lack the level of literacy skills requisite to effective citizenship and productive employment” (US House of Representatives 1991, p. 505). The Morrill Act of 1862 is grant awards to universities for research in agriculture and mechanical area of study, and the objective is to promote adult and vocational education at the university level. (National Association for Public School, Adult Education, 1968). This chapter provides a narrative of adult education from a broad perspective rather than from a narrow position and examines the role of andragogy and pedagogy in adult learning.

Most educational practitioners have supposedly argued that andragogy is a method of instruction, exclusive to the teaching of the adult learners while ostensibly ascribing pedagogy to the teaching of the non-adult learners (children). The implicit distinction between pedagogy and andragogy suggests a false dichotomy. Houde, 2006 recognizes that “underpinning the model of andragogy is the idea that adults and children are different” (p. 91).

Mohring (1989), contends that the terms andragogy (implies the education of adults) and pedagogy (meaning the education of children) are etymologically inaccurate. Although pedagogy originates from paid, meaning “child,” from antiquity, it has also stood for education in general—without reference to the learners’ ages (p. 52). According to Knowles and Holton (1998), adults acquire experience from various life engagements and “self-identity” (p. 91). On the other hand, the child gains experience from family and social relationships. However, the authors fail to explain how the difference in experience impacts the learning process of the child and the adult. According to Marzano (2007), successful instruction depends on collaboration and interaction between the teachers and the students, including the knowledge content (the subject of instruction). “This trilogy, proponents of both pedagogy and andragogy seem to miss in their arguments” (Ekoto and Gaikwad, (2015, p. 13).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Instructivism: Transfer of knowledge “directly into the mind of the learner from the instructor. This knowledge is expected to be wholly accepted and not questioned by the learner or even analyzed by him” (Onyesolu, Nwsor, Ositanwosu and Iwegbuna (2013, p. 40) AU101: The in-text citation "Onyesolu, Nwsor, Ositanwosu and Iwegbuna (2013, p. 40)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ( ).

Structured Learning: Formal learning program or a course that is designed using instructional methodologies and guided by an established curriculum topic to make sure that the data collected is valid and dependable.

Customization of Knowledge: The process of developing a new idea from the concept presented during instruction and using the idea to address related issue in a manner that new meaning and application emerge.

Civil Society: Refer to a wide of array of organizations: community groups, non-governmental organizations, labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, and foundations” World Bank (2010) AU100: The in-text citation "World Bank (2010)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ( ).

Community engagement: The development of a mutual working relationship and connection between local and public bodies such as councils and community organization

Unstructured Learning: Open-ended learning where learners are not faced with the traditional classroom confinement, no established set of rules.

Social Justice: Refers to justice in relation to the distribution of opportunities, wealth, rights and privileges.

Non-Adults: Children and Adolescents

Adult Literacy: Refers to the percentage of the people in the country who are 15 years and over who do not read or write.

Connectivism: An educational theory which provides opportunity for students and teachers to connect and learn using information, database, artifacts etc. stored in the web

Pedagogy: Accepted as a science of teaching, the teacher assumes the position of an authoritative knower and the relationship between the teacher and the student becomes hierarchical.

Adult Education: Formal and informal learning instruction provided beyond secondary education system designed to prepare individuals (adolescents and adults) to improve their potentials and achieve their personal, social and economic goals in life.

Andragogy: Learning principles which are assumed to be appropriate for adult learners. Knowles (1984) assigned andragogical learning principle to the teaching of adult learners because the central theme of andragogy focuses on the adult.

Paidagogos: Means the leader of a boy and it is a concept from which pedagogy is derived.

Heutagogy: Self-determined learning approach which equips learners with the ability to instruct self and self-direct one’s learning.

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