A Productive Decade of Andragogy’s History and Philosophy: 2000-2009

A Productive Decade of Andragogy’s History and Philosophy: 2000-2009

John A. Henschke (University of Missouri, St Louis, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-745-9.ch004
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With the foundation of andragogy having been laid, there was a serious attempt at investigating its value. Some felt that a broad scope was established in the practice to support growth in learners, with any mention of adult learning needing to include andragogy. Others perceived that andragogy produced unproductive debates along a binary path, with its being too caught up in individualization, the politics of exclusion, conformity, and de-contextualizing adult learning. However, some research revealed numerous dimensions of andragogy. The connection with distance learning became very strong and solid. New applications of andragogy were spawned into foreign language learning, internet learning, validation of the adult instructor’s perspective, the public school, emotional intelligence, and an interlinking with brain research. The long range projection of andragogy saw a strong resurgence in numerous research papers being put forward through conferences and publications with the world-wide foundation being established thorough documentation of the materials. Savicevic looks far into the future and credits Knowles with a meritorious place in the advancement of andragogy. Many new applications over an extensive period of time were increasing.
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4.2 Investigating Andragogy’S Value 2000-2003

Billington (2000) found a number of key andragogical factors that were very valuable in helping adults grow and if absent made them not grow and in fact regress. Those factors were: a class environment of respect; their abilities and life achievements acknowledged; intellectual freedom, self-directed learning, experimentation and creativity encouraged; learner treated fairly and as an intelligent adult; class time intellectually challenging; interaction promoted with instructor and between students; and, regular feedback from instructor.

Rachal (2000) discovered little empirical evidence that andragogy provides better results from learning than other approaches. However, he identified from nineteen empirical studies, insights that may contribute toward helping establish criteria for an operational definition of andragogy suitable for implementation in future empirical studies of andragogy.

Likewise, Gehring (2000) was concerned about applying principles of andragogy in the correctional setting. His tentative conclusion affirmed that although not all residents of correctional settings are ready to take full responsibility for their learning; there are some who are. These mature students, who deserve recognition as whole persons, will benefit from having the facilitator apply andragogical principles in their learning activities. Although residents of correctional situations are frequently ‘late bloomers’, they are quite capable of learning and maturing.

Taylor et al. (2000) in their near 400 page volume, asserts that “...no discussion of approaches to teaching adults would be complete without mention of andragogy...” (p. 359), the approach developed by Knowles, who in their estimation combined it with constructivism, humanistic and cognitivist learning. Added to this, were andragogical assumptions about the design of learning, principles, characteristics, key successful factors, learner motivation, motivation barriers, curriculum design, and teaching delivery in the classroom.

To the arguments that question the value of Knowles’ approach to andragogy, Maehl (2000), in addressing the philosophical orientations of a number of adult educators, suggests that Knowles led in the direction of making andragogy quite humanistic that gained wide adoption in the field. This also was fused with other philosophies, particularly in human resource development applications. He also emphasized that Knowles elaborated his ideas of self-directed learning within the context of andragogy. This influenced a generation of adult educators, through his sensitive and nurturing spirit, to adopt the practice of andragogy broadly. What drew and maintained a strong following was what Maehl described Knowles as advocating:

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