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The whole history of human development and education as a separate field of knowledge indicates that the learning process has to be permanent and flexible. Since the personnel of all enterprises or the audience in the colleges consists of adult individuals, their age, socio-psychological, national, and other features must be taken into consideration in their educational settings. According to the principles of andragogy, an adult person takes a leading part in his or her learning process (Chinnasamy, 2013, p. 2835).
Being an evolved individual, he or she formulates the clear-cut goals in education and strives to reach independence, self-realization, and self-direction. In this way, the idea of learning for the personal development and not merely for the improvement of academic performance is laid in the foundation of andragogy approach. It is meant to increase the effectiveness of education and may help to build knowledge and competence in many aspects of life, both personal and professional.
Example of an Ineffective Learning Experience
The majority of the systems and teaching methods implemented in the educational institutions around the globe are developed regardless of the learners’ life experiences, age, social roles; “the whole system is built on the pedagogical principles and methods in any training process” (Akin, 2014, p. 279). It is possible to say that the main pedagogical method for the adult students in universities and colleges is lecturing. Usually, in this kind of pedagogical settings, students need to listen to professors for at least an hour and a half, take notes, and try to be highly attentive to everything they hear.
It is possible to assume that most of the students find it difficult to be motivated and focused on learning throughout the lecture period. According to the recent studies findings, the lectures can be regarded as an ineffective educational process that rather leads to the students’ failure to absorb knowledge and pass their exams (Bajak, 2014, par. 3). However, it may have negative impacts not merely on the student’s academic performance but at their personal development and level of professionalism.
When students have to be the passive listeners, they can easily lose motivation for studying. Based on the personal experience, one can say that it is very difficult to be attentive and interested in the subject without any kind of active participation in the learning process. Although some lecturers try to diversify the lessons by showing colorful slides, telling jokes once in a while, and find other creative oratorical techniques to keep the students interested, the very nature of lectures is in the unilateral direction of information’s movement – from professor to the audience. Therefore, lectures can be considered as inappropriate learning setting for the adult students because it doesn’t allow them to reveal their potential, assess their knowledge, interact with peers and specialists, develop the skills, and be involved in work.
Principles of Andragogy
On the contrast to the traditional pedagogic methods, the fundamental idea of andragogy lies in the idea that the leading role in the learning process belongs to a student him/herself. In this case, the main function of a teacher is mentoring and assistance in disclosure, systematization, shaping of the personal experience, correction, and the supplementation of the student’s knowledge (Chinnasamy, 2013, p. 2837). Andragogy transforms the dynamics of learning process making it more practical, personal, and self-motivated.
In andragogy settings, the educational approach is based primarily on practice, experiments, discussions, case studies, interactive business games, tasks accomplishments, etc. (Forrest III & Peterson, 2006, p. 115). Thus, the approach towards receiving the theoretical knowledge changes as well.
An adult individual is the one whose mindset is shaped and settled according to his personal and professional experiences, social role, and the accustomed patterns of behavior (Clark, 2008, p. 2). Moreover, the processes of perception, memorizing, and thinking are usually slower and less productive in the adult people than in the adolescents and children. Therefore, the implementation of the appropriate methods of teaching and learning is critical.
The integration of a few andragogy principles into the traditionally accepted modes of education may invoke the positive outcomes in the students’ performance and skills’ improvement. First of all, the learning process should be focused on the student’s personal efforts. For assistance in self-education, the teachers and the schools’ administration need to plan the programs, choose the appropriate materials, purchase or develop the educational software, etc. The provided materials and the thoroughly elaborated plan helps students to organize themselves better. With the provided plan, an adult student gets an opportunity to comprehend, memorize the material unhurriedly, and scrutinize the most challenging subjects.
The principle of the collaborative work is also of great significance for the adult learners. “To encourage collaborative learning, the instructor has to create a climate conducive to mutual problem solving” (Gitterman, 2004, p. 102). The starting point of the collaborative education is the identification of the students’ academic, professional, and personal goals and objectives both as individuals and as a group. Throughout the lesson, it is possible to conduct interviews and discuss the matter on different subjects of current interest, etc. It is important to express and take into consideration different points of view – it helps the students to develop the skills of the critical thinking and evaluation.
The principle of the previous and dated experience correction is important, in this case. The adults often have some mental fixations of social or professional character that can interfere with the successful perception of the new information (Forrest III & Peterson, 2006, p. 118). For example, a person can be oriented towards the individual work and realization of the personal potential due to the nature of his/her professional experience.
However, nowadays the ability to cooperate with colleagues and be a team player is highly valued by many employers in the organizations. Therefore, learning the skills of communication and working as a team member is vital. In the andragogy settings, the students have more chances to comprehend and accept the necessity for change and correct their behavior through discussions, formulation of new viewpoints and identification of new perspectives.
It is worth to mention that the positive personal experiences also can influence the learning process positively. According to one of the andragogy principles, the social or professional practical experience and skills can be regarded as the educational basis and a source of the new knowledge (Forrest III & Peterson, 2006, p. 118).
The application of this principle in practice means implementation of teaching methods stimulating the emergence of the creative approach in learners. At the same time, teachers need to pay attention to the individual personal features of the students and encourage them to express it. Teachers need to take into account the socio-psychological particularities of the students to create the favorable environment for the education and increase its effectiveness.
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Lecturing is one of the commonly accepted forms of teaching and learning in the majority of the higher education institutions worldwide. However, this method has proved to lack the effectiveness in the transition of knowledge to the students and, as the result, they fail to absorb the new information. Andragogy may provide the solutions for the improvement of the students’ academic performance and enhancement of their learning abilities.
The principle of the individual and creative approach to learning is the major feature that distinct andragogy from the traditional methods of education. By integrating these principles into the system, the schools may drastically increase the effectiveness of students’ learning process. Moreover, when the students become the dominant and leading force in education, they start to understand their responsibility, and consequently they start to live up to the high standards of behavior and take education more seriously. The adoption of the andragogy principles helps to determine the goals and objectives of each individual learner; and through the elaboration of the appropriate programs and provision of the right materials, the knowledge received by the students becomes more valued and demanded.
Overall, andragogy offers the alternative and more practical ways of learning. It is possible to conclude that it is a more rational and analytical approach to education. It takes into consideration the multiple aspects of individuality and learning capabilities of the adult people. The implementation of the andragogy principles may help learners to become more flexible, critical, and attentive, and these qualities can be regarded as the intrinsic features of the intelligence.
Akin, G. (2014). The term of andragogy and the difference between andragogy and pedagogy. Egitim Bilimleri Fakultesi Dergisi, 47(1), 279-300. Web.
Bajak, A. (2014). Lectures aren’t just boring, they’re ineffective, too, study finds. Science. Web.
Chinnasamy, J. (2013). Mentoring and adult learning: Andragogy in action. International Journal of Management Research and Reviews, 3(5), 2835-2844. Web.
Clark, T. S. (2008). Exploring culturally responsive andragogy in a community college (Order No. 3303921). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text. Web.
Forrest III, S. P., & Peterson, T. O. (2006). It’s called andragogy. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(1), 113–122.
Gitterman, A. (2004). Interactive andragogy: Principles, methods, and skills. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 24(3/4), 95-112.