What is Andragogy?

Definition of Andragogy

Andragogy is a word of Greek origin that means “ to teach adults ”. It was first used in 1833 by the German Alexander Kapp. But it became popular in the 1970s with Malcolm Knowles, an American educator who became a reference on the subject.

Like pedagogy, andragogy is a science that studies learning . But unlike pedagogy, which focuses on children , andragogy seeks best practices and strategies to help adults in the learning process.


Characteristics of Andragogy


  • Autonomy
    Adult learners are considered autonomous in their learning because they are independent and can make their own decisions.
  • Experiences
    Adults have backgrounds and their life experiences are the basis for new knowledge.
  • Commitment
    Adults seek learning that is useful to them and will be more engaged if they understand the applicability of knowledge.
  • Guidance
    As they seek knowledge to apply to their lives, they are more problem-solving than content-driven: solutions to everyday challenges can be related to personal or professional life.
  • Motivation
    Adults seek learning that offers a better quality of life, self-esteem and personal and professional development.


Need to Know

One of the main reasons for andragogical theories is the need to obtain certain knowledge. Unlike children, who have little autonomy to decide what they will learn because there is content that must be taught to everyone in school, adults must understand the need to acquire certain knowledge .

The reasons for studying a subject are related to the motivations of that student, which can be professional or personal. It is unlikely that an adult is motivated to learn about something that does not interest him will not be applicable in his life.

Participation in the Process

Andragogical practices generally involve the student, who becomes a more active subject in the tasks to be carried out. Adult learners are encouraged to participate, along with the teacher, from lesson planning, dynamics, and activities to choosing assessment methods.

Therefore, although adult education requires autonomy and independence, it uses methods that encourage cooperation and knowledge sharing among the group.

Difference between Pedagogy and Andragogy

Pedagogy and andragogy c enter their studies in the learning process and the development of methods and practices that help facilitate the understanding of those who are learning. However, children and adults have different needs and motivations, so teaching approaches vary at each stage of life.

An adult, attending a course, will absorb the content according to his prior knowledge and will build on the understanding of the experiences lived so far. Unlike a child, the adult is independent, which makes the learning process much more autonomous and related to the interests of the adult.

Another key difference in the education of adults and children is the relationship of the person who transmits the content with the one who is receiving. Andragogy tends to be more horizontal and is strengthened through the exchange of experiences and dialogue. In this case, the classes are less expository and the teacher has the role of mediator in learning.

Andragogical processes differ from pedagogical practices, in which there is a teacher with knowledge and he/she transmits it to the students in a more vertical relationship. There is more flexibility in these teaching practices, since the responsibility for learning is much more with the adult who is interested in learning than with the teacher.

Difference Between Andragogy and Heutagogy

There is another concept related to education: heutagogy. It refers to teaching practices in which the student is the administrator of the search for knowledge . In this form of learning, the student is the main actor in the process and, although the figure of the teacher is not necessary, if he has one, his role is that of facilitator.

Heutagogy, one of the principles of distance education . It arises mainly after technological revolutions and the consequent ease of obtaining information and knowledge. This is because, with content quickly and easily available, people can plan and execute their own learning strategy and be self- taught .

Types of Andragogy


In the corporate environment  it is common to hear about andragogy. Teaching adults is a recurring need for companies that invest in training and skills to improve the performance of their employees.

These training modalities use active participation methodologies , with dynamics, interaction and dialogue among the participants. The exchange of experiences of different professionals on these occasions are important sources of knowledge according to the principles of andragogy .

Higher education

Andragogical teaching methods are also applied in universities and can enrich the learning of the group. This is because, upon reaching higher education, students have had numerous personal, professional, political, and social experiences. That they can contribute to the construction of knowledge through dialogue and the exchange of experiences.

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