Pedagogy vs Andragogy Organizations

Pedagogy vs Andragogy Organizations

Victor X. Wang (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Susan K. Dennett (Northwood University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch024


Human Resource practitioners have a responsibility to ensure quality learning occurs in their organizations. Therefore, it is important when organizations consider learning in their environment; what constitutes quality learning? Should they be considering a pedagogical approach to learning or should they consider an andragogical approach to learning? Having a better understanding of learning theories will help determine which learning methods may be successful. This chapter compares the pedagogical and the andragogical models. Knowles' self-directed learning theory is discussed, as well as Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgarnter (2007). Learning contracts are discussed as a way of adults taking responsibility for their learning. The authors describe how adults might take more of an active role for their learning and how educators become more of a facilitator. Reviewing these theories will help organizations maximize learning.
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Pedagogy views the trainer or teacher as the one responsible for the student’s learning. The context of what will be learned and how, when and where are fall under the realm of the teacher. The student simply follows direction and offers no input as to how learning will occur (Knowles, Holton III, & Swanson, 1998). However, on the opposite scale, the concept of helping adults learn had been evolving in Europe for quite some time before it was introduced to North American by adult education leaders. It was a German grammar school teacher by the name of Alexander Kapp who coined the term andragogy in 1833 to differentiate it from the theory of youth learning, which is widely called pedagogy, the art and science of teaching children. Andragogy is defined as the art and science of helping adults learn (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 1998, 2005). Art here refers to “style,” and science here refers to “method.” A number of scholars in the field of adult education helped popularize the principles of andragogy in the field of adult education and training. First, Lindeman (1926) identified several key assumptions about adult learners. Table 1 shows a summary of Lindeman’s key assumptions about adult learners.

Table 1.
Lindeman’s key assumptions about adult learners
1. Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will
2. Adults’ orientation to learning is life-centered.
3. Experience is the richest source for adults’ learning.
4. Adults have a deep need to be self-directing.
5. Individual differences among people increase with age.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Knowles added one more assumption related to motivation to learn. At present, the andragogical model has emerged as the theoretical framework to guide adult teaching and adult learning. Knowles popularized this model and devoted his life to adult education and training in North America (Bash, 2003). Table 2 provides a summary of the andragogical model.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Principles: A principle refers to a standard, such as a guide to behavior, rule.

Learning Contract: A document spelling out learner expectations within an organizational context. Learning that has as its purpose improving one’s competence to perform in a job or in a profession must take into consideration the needs and expectations of organizations, professions, and society. Learning contracts provide a means for negotiating reconciliation between these external needs and expectations and the learner’s internal needs and interests.

Confucius-Heritage Society: Confucius saw growing disorder in his lifetime. In response, he developed a philosophy to maintain the status quo in societies. His philosophy has been translated into teaching, “let a teacher be a teacher and let a student be a student.” What this means is that teachers are leaders and students are followers. Their roles are well defined. In other words, in Confucius-Heritage societies such as in Japan, China, South Korea and Singapore, pedagogy is deeply rooted in their cultures. Probably andragogy has only a small place in these societies.

Andragogy: Andragogy refers to the art and science of helping adults learn. The word “helping” is heavily emphasized to differentiate the theory of andragogy from the theory of youth learning. Some scholars refer andragogy a set of assumptions; others refer it to a set of guidelines. Still others refer it to a philosophy. However, Knowles refers it to a theory, which has been widely accepted in the field of adult education and training. According to andragogical leaders in North America, the theory of andragogy sparked a revolution in adult education and training simply because previously every learner was taught pedagogically.

Flexibility: Flexibility is used figuratively, meaning to change easily in response to situations. In this article, it refers being able to move freely from pedagogical model to andragogical model and vice versa.

Humanism: Humanism originated in China. It literally means teacher of the humanities. It is further believed that humanism would develop autonomous and responsible individuals. Humanistic instructors see themselves as facilitators, helpers, and partners in the learning process. They establish a context for learning and serve as a flexible resource for adult learners. Humanistic teachers must trust students to assume responsibility for their learning (as cited in Wang & Sarbo, 2004 AU38: The in-text citation "Wang & Sarbo, 2004" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 209-210).

Societal Forces: This may refer to political culture, social culture and economical development of a given society. These forces may determine educational theories that one may use to educate and train the workforce.

Pedagogy: Pedagogy refers to the art and science of teaching children. The word “teaching” is emphasized because the role of an instructor is defined as that of a knowledge dictator. A knowledge dictator is supposed to lecture heavily and children are supposed to assume the role of following their instructors submissively. This kind of education is top-down. It is teacher-directed education and learning is subject-centered. Learners’ prior experience is of little importance. What counts in this kind of teaching/learning situations is the experience of the instructors. Although popular with the education and training of children, some mature children may prefer andragogy to pedagogy. For example, some high schoolers may be capable of teaching themselves once they are more experienced with a subject matter.

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