Applying Malcolm Knowles Andragogy Model to Isd

Topics: Instructional design, Learning, Educational psychology Pages: 6 (2306 words) Published: March 16, 2011
Applying Malcolm Knowles Andragogy Model to ISD

The way that an instructional designer defines learning and what is believed about the way learning occurs plays an important role in situations where the facilitator wants to make a change in how people do a job or they need to learn something new on the job. This paper focuses on Malcolm Knowles adult learning assumptions and how to apply them in instructional strategies and techniques for facilitating learning. It also explores some of the critics concerning his assumptions. Knowles assumptions concerning adult learning are each addressed and an example provided on how to apply these assumptions to ISD using technology. The information presented here provides the reader with Malcolm Knowles andragogy model as a way of understanding the importance and difference between adult and child learning.

Learning theories such as behaviorism, constructivism, social learning, and cognitivism laid the foundation and evolution of instructional design. They are an important aspect of understanding learners and how to design successful training. Another model that designers who offer training to adult workers should have a thorough understanding of is Malcolm Knowles assumptions concerning adult learning. Learning theories and models contribute to how your audience will respond to instruction and retain the information provided. Instructional designers should be familiar with the difference between how a child learns and an adult learns in order to develop successful training programs and motivate their trainees. “All formal educational institutions in modern society were initially established exclusively for the education of children and youth”. (ASTD Pg253) The basic model of learning at that time was pedagogy, which focuses on how to teach children. As pedagogy evolved over time and was further studied by psychologist they discovered that teachers could control learner’s reactions, “therefore teachers became more controlling” (pg. 253 ASTD). “Pedogy places the student in a submissive role.” ( ) This model was later challenged with a concept called androgy that focused on how adults learn best and did not place adults in submission of their role as learners. Rather, it took into consideration that adult learners have may have different motivators to learning than children

“Androgy is basically a model of assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners, “rather than an actual theory of learning” ( The Term androgy was initially termed by German teacher Alexander Kapp. Later, Malcolm S. Knowles, adopted and studied this theory into a fundamental influence on adult learning. Knowles is credited with being a fundamental influence in the development of the Humanist Learning Theory and the use of learner constructed contracts or plans to guide learning experiences. (WIKI) Knowles, andragogy is based on the principle of four crucial assumptions about the characteristics of adult learners that are different from the assumptions about child learners on which traditional pedagogy is premised ( . Knowles uses a humanistic approach to adult learners that is known for being “autonomous, free, and growth-oriented” ( The following assumptions are based on Knowle’s andragogical model:(ASTD pg 258)

1. Adults have a need to know why they should learn something.

2. Adults have a deep need to be self-directing

3. Adults have a greater volume and different quality of experience than youth.

4. Adults become ready to learn when they have to perform more effectively and satisfyingly.

5. Adults enter into a learning experience with a problem or life-centered way to learning.

A trainer must...

References: Christensen, T. K., & Osguthorpe, R. T. (2004). How do Instructional-Design Practitioners Make Instructional-Strategy decisions? Performance Improvement Quarterly, 17(3), 45-65.
Craig, Robert L., Editor and Chief (Ed.). (1996). The ASTD Training and Development Handbook: A Guide to Human Resource Development. (4th ed.). NY: McGraw-Hill.
Cranton, P. (2000). Planning instruction for Adult Learners. second edition Retrieved from
Frisoli, G. (2007-2008). Adult learning.
Hartree, A. (1984). Malcolm Knowles ' Theory of Andragogy: A Critique. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 3(3), 203-10. Retrieved from
Merriam, S. B., & Caffarella, R. S.(1993) Learning in adulthood.
Patel, L. Instructional systems design in an on-demand world.Laleh Patel is research associate for ASTD; For more information about the Instructional Systems Design report, please visit
Rothwell, W. J., & Kazanas, H. C. (2008). Mastering instructional design process: A systematic approach (4th ed.)
Sharan B. Merriam. Andragogy and Self Directed Learning: Pillars of Adult Learning Theory. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATION, no. 89(Spring 2001)
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