All About Andragogy: Adult Learning Theory

When you’re designing e-Learning for adults, you want to make the whole learning experience fit their needs. The Adult Learning Theory—also known as andragogy—is perfect for this. Malcolm Knowles popularized the concept of andragogy in his book The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy.

According to Knowles, andragogy has 4 basic assumptions to it:

  1. Adults appreciate self-directed learning.

    Online training is perfect for this. In your course design, consider how you will allow the learner to work at his or her own pace. Let your learner make decisions, like in an e-Learning game. Adult learners are looking for autonomy, so allow them to take control and direct their learning through your game. Read all our blogs about gamification here.

  2. Adults want to learn by experience.

    Experience is a powerful learning technique. That’s because people attach more meaning to concepts they learn from experience than those they learn passively. Branching scenarios are a great way to let online students learn from experience—even while they’re at a computer. Find out how to create scenarios using BranchTrack and Lectora here.

  3. Adults want a reason for why they’re learning. 

    Give your learners a purpose with your learning objectives. State them clearly at the beginning of the course, and be sure to include why learning these concepts will benefit them on the job later. Here are a few tips to help: 4 Tips for Creating Effective e-Learning Objectives for Yourself.

  4. Adults learn best when the subject has immediate value.

    Since people are performance-centered in their orientation to learning, they want to be able to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in your course to their jobs immediately when the course ends. Before you create an e-Learning course, consider if the subject matter would be appropriate for performance support, which is a great way to provide immediate value to learning.

Keep andragogy and the Adult Learning Theory in mind when designing your next e-Learning course to create a successful learning experience that fits your adult learners’ needs.