Andragogy: Welcoming Adult Learners and their Experiences Lisa A. Sheldon, MS, M.Ed Greenfield Community College Teaching, Learning and Student Development Conference April 5, 2013
It’s not just about age….What makes adult learners different? • Life stage • Time commitments • Maturity • Prior academic experiences impact approach to learning • Academic goals and needs • Career focus and personal fulfillment • Social comfort in the classroom • Technological skill and comfort • …and more
What is andragogy? The practice of teaching adults using specific strategies to: • Meet their needs as learners • Honor their preferences for teaching and learning style • Make use of their prior learning and experiences • Build skills that solve “real world” problems • Speak to adult levels of maturity and independence • Capitalize on internal motivation
What is andragogy? • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLoPiHUZbEw
Why use Andragogy? • Builds strong learning communities • Responds to the needs of adult learners • Respectful of students’: • Time • Goals • Learning needs • Readies younger students for future challenges • Develops learning and life skills • Redistributes responsibility for learning
Andragogy’s Core Principles • Learner’s Need to Know • Self-concept of the Learner • Prior Learning Experience • Readiness to Learn • Orientation to Learning • Motivation to Learn Knowles, Holton & Swanson (2011)
Learner’s Need to Know Pedagogy • Dictated by teachers and the state • Curriculum Andragogy • Focused on real world problems • Opportunity to solve problems and reach goals Goal: • For instructors to: • Build connections • Promote application
Learner’s Need to KnowHow can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Help learners identify life-problems resulting from their learning needs • Help learners clarify their own aspirations • Raising awareness of need for learning • Careers, life skills, performance & life improvement • Make a case for learning • Exposure to new ideas and fresh perspectives • Explain why certain things are taught • Provide learning objectives for all assignments
Learner’s Self Concept Pedagogy • Dependent personality • Teacher is leader Andragogy • Increasingly independent • Self-reliant • Self-directed Goal: • For instructors to: • Promote independence • Share leadership • Build community
Learner’s Self ConceptHow can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Create a culture of self-direction and independence. • Promote student leadership opportunities in the classroom. • Seek to build relationships of trust, respect and cooperation between learners. • Since adults are self-directed, instruction should allow learners to discover things for themselves, providing guidance and help when mistakes are made.
Prior Learning Experience Pedagogy • A foundation for future learning Andragogy • A resource for learning for: • Self • Others Goal: • For instructors to: • Promote sharing • Activate prior learning and experience • Understand how previous academic experience shapes current learning and behavior
Prior Learning Experience How can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Communicate value in experience. • Help learners exploit their own experiences. • Provide opportunities for sharing experiences as they relate to learning. • Examine previous academic experiences and watch for blocks to current learning. • Instruction should be task-oriented instead of memorization -- learning activities should be in the context of common tasks to be performed.
Readiness to Learn…and do Pedagogy • Dictated by: • Teacher • Curriculum • State Andragogy • Develops from life tasks and problems Goal: • For instructors to: • Build the class with students • Offer options (when possible)
Readiness to Learn…and do How can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Instruction should take into account the wide range of different backgrounds of learners. • Learning materials and activities should allow for different levels and types of previous experience.
Motivation Pedagogy • External rewards • Punishments Andragogy • Internal incentives • Some external motivators • Curiosity • Problem-solving Goal: • For instructors to: • Learn what motivates their students • Tap into that motivation • Stoke that motivation
MotivationHow can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Ask why students are enrolled and what they need to learn. • Watch for potential blocks: • Negative self-concept • Doubt • Inaccessibility to opportunities or resources • Time constraints • Programs and classes that violate principles of adult learning
Orientation toward learning Pedagogy • Subject-centered Andragogy • Task or problem centered • Life-centered Goal: • For instructors to: • Link learning with life goals and opportunities to solve problems • Make it relevant and timely!
Orientation toward LearningHow can instructors honor this andragogical principle? • Adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance to their job or personal life. • Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.
What activities and strategies enhance your learning? Can these be applied to your classroom?
Andragogical principles in the classroom Core Adult Learning Principles (Knowles, Holton & Swanson, 2011; Merriam & Brockett, 2007) Learner’s Need to Know= Relevant& Meaningful Objectives Self-concept of the Learner= Trust, Preferences & Flexibility Prior Learning Experience= Sharing, Chunking & Scaffolding Readiness to Learn= Preparation & Clarity Orientation to Learning= Objective-oriented Lessons Motivation to Learn= Engagement & Personal Development
Applying Andragogical principlesClass set up • First day of class: • Applies to both online & traditional classrooms • Class introductions help to create community • Discuss the direction they would like the class to take • Discuss class set-up and assessments • Provide choice when possible • Goal: • Get students involved in their own instruction
Applying Andragogical principlesCourse administration • On going • Manage challenges from multiple perspectives • Ask for feedback • Continue to get to know your students as both learners and people • Goal: • Get students involved in their own instruction
Applying Andragogical principlesCourse management & work strategies • Work and knowledge building • Draw on student experiences • Present and solve “real world” problems • Share learning objectives for each assignment • Create meaningful work (avoid busy work) • Use ACTIVE LEARNING strategies when possible • Helpful strategies include: • Case studies, role playing , simulations & self-evaluation • Goal: • Partner with students to create a valuable class experience and help them meet individual educational goals
Applying Andragogical principlesProblem-solving with adult students • Strategies to consider • Offer multiple assessment strategies • Recognize students who are struggling • Reach out (often more than once) • Ask questions and listen to the answers • Goal: • Engagement! Persistence! Dedication!
Applying Andragogical principlesCreating Community • Strategies to consider • Provide opportunities for students to be experts • Design activities that recall experience • Goal: • Engagement! Persistence! Dedication!
References: Jarvis, P. (2011) Adult Education and Lifelong Learning: Theory and Practice. London. Routledge Knowles, M.S., Holton, E.F., & Swanson, R.A. (2005). The Adult Learner. Oxford, UK: Butterworth-Heinemann. Merriam, S.B. & Brockett, R.G. (2007) The Profession and Practice of Adult Education: An introduction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Wiley & Sons. • Photo credits: • Runner in blocks: http://www.guardian.co.uk/public-leaders-network/2012/nov/20/best-practice-exchange-introduction • Confident man: http://timemanagementninja.com/2012/07/10-reasons-why-confidence-leads-to-success/ • Woman in library: http://chronicle.com/article/Where-Life-Earns-Credit-/64618 • Need to know: http://blog.shamrockfinancial.com/blog/bid/92875/The-3-8-Obamacare-Tax-What-You-Need-to-Know • Adults at computer: http://www.uakron.edu/adults/ • Orientation: http://www.allfivesenses.com/what-we-do/navigation-courses/map-compass/the-three-navigators/ • Man out walking: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2876721