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Andragogy and Pedagogy Comparison Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 26th, 2020


Andragogy is a teaching method, an art, a science and a teaching strategy invented and used to teach adult students to improve their learning skills. As Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2005) stated, andragogy means the process of adult cognition over the content of teaching”. Adult education involves changes in values, beliefs, attitude, knowledge, behavior, skills and thinking for maximum output, and this is the only way in which adults will gain confidence on the best method of learning different things.

In addition, for adults to think creatively and innovatively while learning, it is advisable that they understand their past experiences effectively and then connect to the environmental setting they are subjected to. This will enable them to think critically and analytically in order to understand their surroundings. Moreover, andragogy is currently used to refer to a learner-centered method of learning, which involves the learner’s active participation in the learning process (Conner, 1997).


Pedagogy means the method of giving instruction, a science of educating children and a method of teaching that involves asking questions by the teacher and giving answers by the students or learners. It involves imparting knowledge, skills, values and right attitudes to the learners to enable them to change their behaviors through experience and regular practice, as well as preparing learners for future roles. In this model and method of teaching, it is the teacher’s role to make decisions and guide the students on what to be done, as well as provide the timeline for this to take place. In addition, it is the teacher’s role to provide the topics and lessons to be covered in the learning process (Conner, 1997).

This method is always taken to be authoritative, as it is only focused on the teacher, and leaving learners as passive participants in the learning process. Learning should be made a two-way process as people always learn when they teach; thus, the teacher should fully involve the learners in the decision-making process, in classroom setting, and in any other learning environment. When this is done, learners will find learning interesting as teachers also enjoy the teaching process (Knowles, Holton and Swanson, 2005).

Theories about Pedagogy and Andragogy

There are various theories that came up with pedagogy model of teaching; some of them argued that it is the best method of teaching while others realized that it was not the best model so far compared to andragogy method of teaching. Examples of these theorists include John Dewey, Jean Piaget, and Carl Roger (Barr and Tagg, 1995).

There is a theory called constructivism theory, which states that learners, including adults and children, construct and digest new information depending on their experiences and wealth of information they already have. This theory supports both pedagogy and andragogy methods of teaching. On pedagogy, the theory only supports the approaches that promote learners active involvement in the learning process (Barr and Tagg, 1995).

Adult Education

There are various theories used to explain andragogy. According to Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2005), there are various theories and assumptions that lead to inspiration and encouragement of andragogy. For example, for adults to learn something, they must know the reason for learning it. They must also be responsible for any decisions they make concerning education matters and the associated problems in order to allow proper planning and self-evaluation of concepts. Besides, adult education and learning is always focused on problem-solving, unlike other types of education for pupils, which are always focused mainly on content.

In addition, adult learning curriculum should be based on subjects and topics that have immediate importance and can help them to solve their daily personal life challenges. Finally, adult education should be made relevant towards internal motivation, as adults derive motivation from within themselves rather than from outside (Knowles, Holton and Swanson, 2005).

Advantages of Andragogy and Pedagogy

From the above discussions, it is clear that andragogy is a learner-centered method of learning while pedagogy is a teacher-centered method of learning. The following are the benefits of each method of learning.

Advantages of Andragogy

There are various advantages associated with andragogy or learner-centered method of learning. Firstly, this method enables students to link the class content and theories to real life experiences. In addition, it allows the students to think deeply as active participants in the class. There is also a lot of interaction among the students, thereby enabling them to learn from each other.

Moreover, it also promotes the learner retention capacity of the learned content and gives the learner better social skills. Finally, this method enables both the learner and the teacher to have good creative and innovative ways of learning and teaching respectively. During andragogy, the learners can be made more effective by involving them in group discussion and group work to make them more active (McCombs and Whistler, 1997),

Advantages of Pedagogy

On pedagogy method of teaching, the only advantage is that it can cover a large number of students at a time, for example, in the lecture method. This makes it less expensive compared to andragogy method of teaching and learning (Barr and Tagg, 1995).


In conclusion, based on the discussion above, it is clear that andragogy is a learner-centered method of learning while pedagogy is a teacher-centered method of learning. From the discussion, it is also evident that andragogy method of learning is the best method to use in a learning and teaching situation, as it involves the active participation of learners, thereby enabling them to think creatively, promoting deep-thinking, producing better social individuals, and helping the learners to retain a lot of content learned in a classroom setting. Also, it is clear that this method allows the learner to link and connect what is learned to real life experiences and practices (McCombs and Whistler, 1997).

On the other hand, from the discussion, it is evident that, despite pedagogy being used in some formal schools, the only advantage it has is that, it is very cheap to carry out, as the lecturer does not need to involve all the students in discussion. Also, there is limited resource requirement to carry out this method of learning and teaching. Therefore, schools should be guided to apply the best method where possible.

In the teacher-centered method, teachers assumed that learners are just like a slate and are blank; hence, it is the role of the teacher to transfer information to them. This should not be the case since students can gather more information by themselves without the assistance of teachers. Learners should be allowed to be actively involved in the learning process, instead of them being involved passively, which limits their knowledge acquisition capacity in the learning process (McCombs and Whistler, 1997).


Barr, R. & Tagg, J. (1995). From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education, Change. InDeZure, D. (2000).Learning from Change: Landmarks in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education from Change Magazine, 1969-1999.VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Conner, M. L. (1997). Andragogy and Pedagogy: Ageless Learner. Web.

Knowles, M. H., Holton, E. and Swanson, T. (2005). The adult learner: the definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. MA: Routledge.

McCombs, B. & Whistler, J. S. (1997). The Learner-Centered Classroom and School: Strategies for Increasing Student motivation and Achievement. San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers.

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