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Read “Andragogy: A Theory of Adult Learning.” Using Word or Google Docs, respond to the following questions in detail.

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3.1 From your own experience, think of a situation that clearly illustrates pedagogy and one for andragogy.

3.2 What is the underlying perspective that Carl Rogers brings to the understanding of adult learning?

3.3 Reflect on one of Lindeman’s five key assumptions about adult learners.

3.4 How has clinical psychology contributed to andragogy?

3.5 How has adult education contributed to andragogy?

3.6 For each of the six andragogy model assumptions, report on a personal experience that highlights and supports that assumption.

A Theory of Adult Learning

Until recently, there has been relatively little thinking, investigating, and writing about adult learning. This is a curious fact considering that the education of adults has been a concern of the human race for such a long time. Yet, for many years, the adult learner was indeed a neglected species.

The historical lack of research in this field is especially surprising in view of the fact that all the great teachers of ancient times—Confucius and Lao Tse of China; the Hebrew prophets and Jesus in biblical times; Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato in ancient Greece; and Cicero, Evelid, and Quintillian in ancient Rome—were teachers of adults, not of children. Because their experiences were with adults, they developed a very different concept of the learning/teaching process from the one that later dominated the formal education of children. These notable teachers perceived learning to be a process of mental inquiry, not passive reception of transmitted content. Accordingly, they invented techniques for engaging learners in inquiry. The ancient Chinese and Hebrews invented what we now call the case method; in which the leader or one of the group members describes a situation, often in the form of a parable, and together with the group explores its characteristics and possible resolutions. The Greeks invented what we now call the Socratic dialogue; in which the leader or a group member poses a question or dilemma and the group members pool their thinking and experience to seek an answer or solution. The Romans were more confrontational; they used challenges that forced group members to state a position and then defend them.

In the seventh century in Europe, schools were organized for teaching children, primarily for preparing young boys for the priesthood. Hence, they became known as cathedral and monastic schools. Since the indoctrination of students in the beliefs, faith, and rituals of the Church was the principal mission of these teachers, they developed a set of assumptions about learning and strategies for teaching that came to be labeled pedagogy, literally meaning “the art and science of teaching children” (derived from the Greek words paid, meaning “child,” and agogus, meaning “leader of”). This model of education persisted through the ages well into the twentieth century and was the basis of organization for the educational system in the USA.

Shortly after the end of World War I, both in the United States and in Europe, a growing body of notions about the unique characteristics of adult learners began emerging. But only in more recent decades have these notions evolved into an integrated framework of adult learning. It is fascinating to trace this evolutionary process in the United States.

Two Streams of Inquiry
Beginning with the founding of the American Association for Adult Education in 1926, and the provision of substantial funding for research and publications by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, two streams of inquiry are discernible. One stream can be classified as the scientific stream, and the other as the artistic or intuitive/reflective stream. The scientific stream seeks to discover new knowledge through rigorous (and often experimental) investigation, and was launched by Edward L. Thorndike with the publication of his Adult Learning in 1928. The title is misleading, however, for Thorndike was not concerned with the processes of adult learning but rather with learning ability. His studies demonstrated that adults could, in fact, learn, which was important because it provided a scientific foundation for a field that had previously been based on the mere faith that adults could learn. Additions to this stream in the next decade included Thorndike’s Adult Interests in 1935 and Herbert Sorenson’s Adult Abilities in 1938. By the onset of World War II adult educators had scientific evidence that adults could learn and that they possessed interests and abilities that were different from those of children.

On the other hand, the artistic stream, which seeks to discover new knowledge through intuition and the analysis of experience, was concerned with how adults learn. This stream of inquiry was launched with the publication of Eduard C. Lindeman’s The Meaning of Adult Education in 1926. Strongly influenced by the educational philosophy of John Dewey, Lindeman (1926b) laid the foundation for a systematic theory about adult learning with such insightful statements as these:

The approach to adult education will be via the route of situations, not subjects. Our academic system has grown in reverse order: subjects and teachers constitute the starting point, students are secondary. In conventional education the student is required to adjust himself to an established curriculum; in adult education the curriculum is built around the student’s needs and interests. Every adult person finds himself in specific situations with respect to his work, his recreation, his family life, his community life, etc.—situations which call for adjustments. Adult education begins at this point. Subject matter is brought into the situation, is put to work, when needed. Texts and teachers play a new and secondary role in this type of education; they must give way to the primary importance of the learners.

(pp. 8–9)

The resource of highest value in adult education is the learner’s experience. If education is life, then life is also education. Too much of learning consists of vicarious substitution of someone else’s experience and knowledge. Psychology is teaching us, however, that we learn what we do, and that therefore all genuine education will keep doing and thinking together. . . . Experience is the adult learner’s living textbook.

(pp. 9–10)

Authoritative teaching, examinations which preclude original thinking, rigid pedagogical formulae—all these have no place in adult education. . . . Small groups of aspiring adults who desire to keep their minds fresh and vigorous, who begin to learn by confronting pertinent situations, who dig down into the reservoirs of their experience before resorting to texts and secondary facts, who are led in the discussion by teachers who are also searchers after wisdom and not oracles: this constitutes the setting for adult education, the modern quest for life’s meaning.

(pp. 10–11)

Adult learning theory presents a challenge to static concepts of intelligence, to the standardized limitations of conventional education and to the theory which restricts educational facilities to an intellectual class. Apologists for the status quo in education frequently assert that the great majority of adults are not interested in learning, are not motivated in the direction of continuing education; if they possessed these incentives, they would, naturally, take advantage of the numerous free educational opportunities provided by public agencies. This argument begs the question and misconceives the problem. We shall never know how many adults desire intelligence regarding themselves and the world in which they live until education once more escapes the patterns of conformity. Adult education is an attempt to discover a new method and create a new incentive for learning; its implications are qualitative, not quantitative. Adult learners are precisely those whose intellectual aspirations are least likely to be aroused by the rigid, uncompromising requirements of authoritative, conventionalized institutions of learning.

(pp. 27–28)

Adult education is a process through which learners become aware of significant experience. Recognition of significance leads to evaluation. Meanings accompany experience when we know what is happening and what importance the event includes for our personalities.

(p. 169)

Two excerpts from other Lindeman writings elaborate on these ideas:

I am conceiving adult education in terms of a new technique for learning, a technique as essential to the college graduate as to the unlettered manual worker. It represents a process by which the adult learns to become aware of and to evaluate his experience. To do this he cannot begin by studying “subjects” in the hope that some day this information will be useful. On the contrary, he begins by giving attention to situations in which he finds himself, to problems which include obstacles to his self-fulfillment. Facts and information from the differentiated spheres of knowledge are used, not for the purpose of accumulation, but because of need in solving problems. In this process the teacher finds a new function. He is no longer the oracle who speaks from the platform of authority, but rather the guide, the pointer-out who also participates in learning in proportion to the vitality and relevance of his facts and experiences. In short, my conception of adult education is this: a cooperative venture in nonauthoritarian, informal learning, the chief purpose of which is to discover the meaning of experience; a quest of the mind which digs down to the roots of the preconceptions which formulate our conduct; a technique of learning for adults which makes education coterminous with life and hence elevates living itself to the level of adventurous experiment.

(Gessner, 1956, p. 160)

One of the chief distinctions between conventional and adult education is to be found in the learning process itself. None but the humble become good teachers of adults. In an adult class the student’s experience counts for as much as the teacher’s knowledge. Both are exchangeable at par. Indeed, in some of the best adult classes it is sometimes difficult to discover who is learning most, the teacher or the students. This two-way learning is also reflected by shared authority. In conventional education the pupils adapt themselves to the curriculum offered, but in adult education the pupils aid in formulating the curricula. . . . Under democratic conditions authority is of the group. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but until it is learned democracy cannot succeed.

(Gessner, 1956, p. 166)

Table 3.1 Summary of Lindeman’s key assumptions about adult learners

Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will satisfy.
Adults’ orientation to learning is life-centered.
Experience is the richest source for adult’s learning.
Adults have a deep need to be self-directing.
Individual differences among people increase with age.
These excerpts from the pioneering theorist are sufficient to portray a new way of thinking about adult learning, yet it is important to note that Lindeman (1926b) also identified several key assumptions about adult learners. His assumptions, summarized in Table 3.1, have been supported by later research and constitute the foundation of adult learning theory:

Adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs and interests that learning will satisfy; therefore, these are the appropriate starting points for organizing adult learning activities.
Adults’ orientation to learning is life-centered; therefore, the appropriate units for organizing adult learning are life situations, not subjects.
Experience is the richest resource for adults’ learning; therefore, the core methodology of adult education is the analysis of experience.
Adults have a deep need to be self-directing; therefore, the role of the teacher is to engage in a process of mutual inquiry with them rather than to transmit his or her knowledge to them and then evaluate their conformity to it.
Individual differences among people increase with age; therefore, adult education must make optimal provision for differences in style, time, place, and pace of learning.
It is interesting to note that Lindeman did not dichotomize adult versus youth education, but rather adult versus “conventional” education. The implication here is that youths might learn better, too, when their needs and interests, life situations, experiences, self-concepts, and individual differences are taken into account. The artistic stream of inquiry that Lindeman launched in 1926 flowed on through the pages of the Journal of Adult Education, the quarterly publication of the American Association for Adult Education, which, between February 1929 and October 1941, provided the most distinguished body of literature yet produced in the field of adult education. The following excerpts from its articles reveal the growing collection of insights about adult learning gleaned from the experience of successful practitioners:

By Lawrence P. Jacks, principal of Manchester College, Oxford, England:

Earning and living are not two separate departments or operations in life. They are two names for a continuous process looked at from opposite ends. . . . A type of education based on this vision of continuity is, obviously, the outstanding need of our times. Its outlook will be lifelong. It will look upon the industry of civilization as the great “continuation school” for intelligence and for character, and its object will be, not merely to fit men and women for the specialized vocations they are to follow, but also to animate the vocations themselves with ideals of excellence appropriate to each. At the risk of seeming fantastic I will venture to say that the final objective of the New Education is the gradual transformation of the industry of the world into the university of the world; in other words, the gradual bringing about of a state of things in which “breadwinning” and “soulsaving” instead of being, as now, disconnected and often opposed operations, shall become a single and continuous operation.

(Journal of Adult Education, I(1), February 1929, pp. 7–10)

By Robert D. Leigh, president of Bennington College:

At the other end of the traditional academic ladder the adult educational movement is forcing recognition of the value and importance of continuing the learning process indefinitely. . . . But among the far-seeing leaders of the movement in the United States it is recognized not so much as a substitute for inadequate schooling in youth as an educational opportunity superior to that offered in youth—superior because the learner is motivated not by the artificial incentives of academic organization, but by the honest desire to know and to enrich his experience, and because the learner brings to his study relevant daily experience, and consequently the new knowledge takes root firmly, strikes deep, and feeds on what the day’s life brings it.

There is gradually emerging, therefore, a conception of education as a lifelong process beginning at birth and ending only with death, a process related at all points to the life experiences of the individual, a process full of meaning and reality to the learner, a process in which the student is active participant rather than passive recipient.

(Journal of Adult Education, II(2), April 1930, p. 123)

By David L. Mackaye, director of the Department of Adult Education, San Jose, California, public schools:

A person is a good educator among adults when he has a definite conviction about life and when he can present intelligent arguments on behalf of it; but primarily he does not qualify as an adult educator at all until he can exist in a group that collectively disputes, denies, or ridicules his conviction, and continues to adore him because he rejoices in them. That is tolerance, an exemplification of Proudhon’s contention that to respect a man is a higher intellectual feat than to love him as one’s self. . . . There is positive evidence that no adult education system will ever make a success of collegiate methods of instruction to adults in the cultural fields. Something new in the way of content and method must be produced as soon as possible for adult education, and probably it will have to grow up in the field. No teacher-training-college hen can lay an adult education egg.

(Journal of Adult Education, III(3), June 1931, pp. 293–294)

By Maria Rogers, volunteer worker, New York City Adult Education Council:

One type of adult education merits particular consideration and wider use by educators seeking new methods. Though meagerly publicized, it has proved effective in numerous instances. It has undertaken a far more difficult task than that assumed by the institutions for adult education which confine their concept of method to the sequence of procedure established for adults who enter classrooms to learn something already set up to be learned. Its prime objective is to make the group life of adults yield educational value to the participants. . . .

The educator who uses the group method of education takes ordinary, gregarious human beings for what they are, searches out the groups in which they move and have their being, and then helps them to make their group life yield educational values.

(Journal of Adult Education, X, October 1938, pp. 409–411)

By Ruth Merton, director of the Education Department, Milwaukee YWCA:

In a day school, where the students are usually children or young adolescents, a learned teacher–ignorant pupil relationship is almost inevitable, and frequently it has its advantages. But in a night school the situation is entirely different. Here, so far as the class is concerned, the teacher is an authority upon one subject only, and each of the students has, in his own particular field, some skill or knowledge that the teacher does not possess. For this reason, there is a spirit of give and take in a night-school class that induces a feeling of comradeship in learning, stimulating to teacher and students alike. And the quickest way to achieve this desirable state is through laughter in which all can join.

And so I say again that, if we are really wise, we teachers in night schools will, despite taxes or indigestion, teach merrily!

(Journal of Adult Education, XI, April 1939, p. 178)

By Ben M. Cherrington, chief of the Division of Cultural Relations, United States Department of State:

Authoritarian adult education is marked throughout by regimentation demanding obedient conformity to patterns of conduct handed down from authority. Behavior is expected to be predictable, standardized. . . . Democratic adult education employs the method of self-directing activity, with free choice of subject matter and free choice in determining outcomes. Spontaneity is welcome. Behavior cannot with certainty be predicted and therefore is not standardized. Individual, critical thinking is perhaps the best description of the democratic method and it is here that the gulf is widest between democracy and the authoritarian system.

(Journal of Adult Education, XI(3), June 1939, pp. 244–245)

By Wendell Thomas, author of Democratic Philosophy and a teacher of adult education teachers in New York City:

On the whole, adult education is as different from ordinary schooling as adult life, with its individual and social responsibilities, is different from the protected life of the child. . . . The adult normally differs from the child in having both more individuality and more social purpose.

Adult education, accordingly, makes special allowance for individual contributions from the students, and seeks to organize these contributions into some form of social purpose.

(Journal of Adult Education, XI(4), October 1939, pp. 365–366)

By Harold Fields, acting assistant director of Evening Schools, Board of Education, New York City:

Not only the content of the courses, but the method of teaching also must be changed. Lectures must be replaced by class exercises in which there is a large share of student participation. “Let the class do the work,” should be adopted as a motto. There must be ample opportunity for forums, discussions, and debates. Newspapers, circulars, and magazines as well as textbooks should be used for practice in reading. Extracurricular activities should become a recognized part of the educational process. . . . There are some of the elements that must be incorporated in a program of adult education for citizens if it is to be successful.

(Journal of Adult Education, XII, January 1940, pp. 44–45)

By 1940, most of the elements required for a comprehensive theory of adult learning had been discovered, but they had not yet been brought together into a unified framework; they remained as isolated insights, concepts, and principles. During the 1940s and 1950s, these elements were clarified, elaborated on, and added to in a veritable explosion of knowledge from the various disciplines in the human sciences. It is interesting to note that during this period there was a gradual shift in emphasis in research away from the highly quantitative, fragmentary, experimental research of the 1930s and 1940s, to more holistic longitudinal case studies with a higher yield of useful knowledge.

Contributions from the Social Sciences
Clinical psychology
Some of the most important contributions to learning theory have come from the discipline of psychotherapy. After all, psychotherapists are primarily concerned with re-education, and their subjects are primarily adults. (See Table 3.2 for summary.)

Sigmund Freud has influenced psychological thinking as much as any other individual, but he did not formulate a theory of learning as such. His major contribution was in identifying the influence of the subconscious mind on behavior. Some of his concepts, such as anxiety, repression fixation, regression, aggression, defense mechanism, projection, and transference (in blocking or motivating learning), were adopted by learning theorists. Freud was close to the behaviorists in his emphasis on the animalistic nature of humans, but he saw the human being as a dynamic animal that grows and develops through the interaction of biological forces, goals, purposes, conscious and unconscious drives, and environmental influences. This is a concept more in keeping with the organismic model.

Table 3.2 Major contributions of clinical psychologists

Sigmund Freud    Identified influence of subconscious mind on behavior.
Carl Jung    Introduced the notion that human consciousness possesses four functions: sensation, thought, emotion, and intuition.
Erik Erikson    Provided “Eight Ages of Man”: Oral-sensory, muscular-anal, locomotion-genital, latency, puberty and adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood, and final stage.
Abraham Maslow    Emphasized the role of safety.
Carl Rogers    Conceptualized a student-centered approach to education based on five “basic hypotheses”:
We cannot teach another person directly, we can only facilitate his learning.
A person learns significantly only those things which he perceives as being involved in the maintenance of, or enhancement of, the structure of self.
Experience which, if assimilated would involve a change in the organization of self, tends to be resisted through denial or distortion of symbolization.
The structure and organization of self appear to become more rigid under threat and to relax its boundaries when completely free from threat. Experience which is perceived as inconsistent with the self can only be assimilated if the current organization of self is relaxed and expanded to include it.
The educational situation that most effectively promotes significant learning is one in which (a) threat to the self of the learner is reduced to a minimum, and (b) differentiated perception of the field is facilitated.
Carl Jung advanced a more holistic concept of human consciousness. He introduced the notion that it possesses four functions or four ways to extract information from experience to achieve internalized understanding; sensation, thought, emotion, and intuition. His plea for the development and use of all four functions in balance laid the groundwork for the concepts of the balanced personality and the balanced curriculum.

Erik Erikson provided the “Eight Ages of Man,” the last three occurring during the adult years, as a framework for understanding the stages of personality development:

Oral–sensory, in which the basic issue is trust vs. mistrust.
Muscular–anal, in which the basic issue is autonomy vs. shame.
Locomotion–genital, in which the basic issue is initiative vs. guilt.
Latency, in which the basic issue is industry vs. inferiority.
Puberty and adolescence, in which the basic issue is identity vs. role confusion.
Young adulthood, in which the basic issue is intimacy vs. isolation.
Adulthood, in which the basic issue is generativity vs. stagnation.
The final stage, in which the basic issue is integrity vs. despair.
In fact, the central role of self-concept in human development and learning received increasing reinforcement from the entire field of psychiatry as it moved away from the medical model toward an educational model in its research and practice. The works of Erich Fromm and Karen Horney are particularly telling in this shift.

But it is the clinical psychologists, especially those who identify themselves as humanistic, who have concerned themselves most deeply with problems of learning. The humanistic psychologists speak of themselves as “third-force psychologists.” In Goble’s (1971) words, “By 1954 when Maslow published his book Motivation and Personality, there were two major theories dominant” in the behavioral sciences. They were Freudianism and behaviorism, in which “Freud placed the major motivational emphasis on deep inner drives (and) urges and the behaviorists placed the emphasis on external, environmental influences.” But “like Freud and like Darwin before him, the behaviorists saw man as merely another type of animal, with no essential differences from animals and with the same destructive, anti-social tendencies” (pp. 3–8). Third-force psychologists are concerned with the study and development of fully functioning persons (to use Rogers’s term) or self-actualizing persons (to use Maslow’s term). They are critical of the atomistic approach common among the behaviorists; which is breaking things down into their component parts and studying them separately.

Most behavioral scientists have attempted to isolate independent drives, urges, and instincts and study them separately. Maslow found this to be generally less productive than the holistic approach that holds that the whole is more than the sum of the parts (Goble, 1971, p. 22).

Growth takes place when the next step forward is subjectively more delightful, more joyous, more intrinsically satisfying than the previous gratification with which we have become familiar and even bored; the only way we can ever know that it is right for us is that it feels better subjectively than any alternative. The new experience validates itself rather than by any outside criterion (Maslow, 1972, p. 43).

Maslow (1972, pp. 50–51) placed special emphasis on the role of safety, which the following formulation of the elements in the growth process illustrates:

The healthily spontaneous [person], in his spontaneity, from within out, reaches out to the environment in wonder and interest, and expresses whatever skills he has.
He does this to the extent that he is not crippled by fear and to the extent that he feels safe enough to dare.
In this process, that which gives him the delight-experience is fortuitously encountered, or is offered to him by helpers.
He must be safe and self-accepting enough to be able to choose and prefer these delights, instead of being frightened by them.
If he can choose these experiences, which are validated by the experience of delight, then he can return to the experience, repeat it, savor it to the point of repletion, satiation, or boredom.
At this point, he shows the tendency to go on to richer, more complex experiences and accomplishments in the same sector if he feels safe enough to dare.
Such experiences not only mean moving on, but have a feedback effect on the Self, in the feeling of certainty (“This I like; that I don’t for sure”) of capability, mastery, self-trust, self-esteem.
In this never-ending series of choices of which life consists, the choice may generally be schematized as between safety (or, more broadly, defensiveness) and growth; and since only that [person] doesn’t need safety who already has it, we may expect the growth choice to be made by the safety-need gratified [individual].
In order to be able to choose in accord with his own nature and to develop it, the [individual] must be permitted to retain the subjective experiences of delight and boredom, as the criteria of the correct choice for him. The alternative criterion is making the choice in terms of the wish of another person. The Self is lost when this happens. Also this constitutes restricting the choice to safety alone, since the [individual] will give up trust in his own delight criterion out of fear (of losing protection, love, etc.).
If the choice is really a free one, and if the [individual] is not crippled, then we may expect him ordinarily to choose progression forward.
The evidence indicates that what delights the healthy [person], what tastes good to him, is also, more frequently than not, “best” for him in terms of fair goals as perceivable by the spectator.
In this process the environment [parents, teachers, therapists] is important in various ways, even though the ultimate choice must be made by the individual.
It can gratify his basic needs for safety, belongingness, love, and respect, so that he can feel unthreatened, autonomous, interested, and spontaneous and thus dare to choose the unknown.
It can help by making the growth choice positively attractive and less dangerous, and by making regressive choices less attractive and more costly.
In this way the psychology of Being and the psychology of Becoming can be reconciled, and the [person], simply being himself, can yet move forward and grow.
Carl R. Rogers, starting with the viewpoint that “in a general way, therapy is a learning process” (1951, p. 132), developed 19 propositions for a theory of personality and behavior that evolved from the study of adults in therapy (pp. 483–524) and then sought to apply them to education. This process led him to conceptualize student-centered teaching as parallel to client-centered therapy (pp. 388–391).

Rogers’s student-centered approach to education was based on five basic hypotheses, the first of which was: We cannot teach another person directly; we can only facilitate his learning. This hypothesis stems from the propositions in Rogers’s personality theory that “every individual exists in a continually changing world of experience of which he is the center” and “the organism reacts to the field as it is experienced and perceived.” It requires a shift in focus from what the teacher does to what is happening in the student.

His second hypothesis was: A person learns significantly only those things that he perceives as being involved in the maintenance of, or enhancement of, the structure of self. This hypothesis underlines the importance of making the learning relevant to the learner, and puts into question the academic tradition of required courses.

Rogers grouped his third and fourth hypotheses together: Experience that, if assimilated, would involve a change in the organization of self, tends to be resisted through denial or distortion of symbolization, and the structure and organization of self appear to become more rigid under threats and to relax its boundaries when completely free from threat. Experience that is perceived as inconsistent with the self can only be assimilated if the current organization of self is relaxed and expanded to inc

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