Adult Learning Theory / Androgogy

For those Cohort members who are interested in an overview of Adult Learning Theory, please visit the following site:

by Jo Dinnan, Jean Elam, Sabrina May, Wade Pearce and Sheryl Roesser

Background Information

Andragogy as a term for adult learning can be traced back as far as 1833 when Alexander Kapp, a German high school teacher, used it in Plato’s Educational Ideas. While he used the term in his discussion of the “necessity of the education of adults,” he never actually defined it in this book. Adult learning was being discussed at that time in Europe as part of the Enlightenment Movement and in America in the Lyceum Movement; however, the term Andragogy to describe adult learning, did not emerge as a common term to describe adult learning.
In the 1920’s as the “Hohenrodter Bund” developed a theory practicing a new direction in adult education. At this time, some authors began using the term Andragogy to describe adult education. Again, the term was used but not widespread and was mostly forgotten, but the study of adult education continued to be discussed in scholarly settings.
It was not until the 1950’s that the term Andragogy resurfaced in European publications. The practice of adult education was still unclear, but the difference between “doing and reflecting” was becoming very clear and the need for a term to define those differences was evident.
Andragogy finally surfaced and became part of the educational language in 1967 with Malcolm Knowles, a prominent scholar in the field of adult education. He writes:
…in 1967 I had an experience that made it all come together. A Yugoslavian adult educator, Dusan Savicevi, participated in a summer session I was conducting at Boston University. At the end of it he came up to me with his eyes sparkling and said, “Malcolm, you are preaching and practicing andragogy.” I replied “Whatagogy?” because I had never heard the term before. He explained that the term had been coined by a teacher in a German grammar school, Alexander Kapper, in 1833… The term lay fallow until it was once more introduced by a German social scientist, Eugen Rosenstock, in 1921, but it did not receive general recognition. Then in 1957 a German teacher, Franz Poggeler, published a book Introduction Into Andragogy: Basic Issues in Adult Education, and this term was then picked up by adult educators in Germany, Austria the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia …”
- see above website (

The following articles provide background information into Adult Learning Theory and Andragogy. In preparation for class on March 22nd, please read at least two of the following:

Merriam, S.B. (2001) New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 89. Jossey-Bass.

Robertson, D. N. (2002). Androgogy in Color. ERIC document (ED465047).

Baumgartner, L.; Lee, M.; Birden, S.; Flowers, D. (2003). Adult Learning Theory: A Primer. Information Series. Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Washington, DC.

Outline for class on March 22nd:

* Survey

* Overview of Andragogy

* Different Views of Adult Learning

* Transformative Learning

* Self-directed Learning

* Foreign- Born

* Afro centric

* Survey Discussion

Optional Articles for your review:

Terehoff, I.(2002). Elements of Adult Learning in Teacher Professional Development. NASSP Bulletin, 86(632), 65-77.

Clardy, A. (2005). Andragogy:Adult Learning And Eductaion At Its Best? Online Submission. (ED492132)

Yorks, L. (2005). Adult Learning and the Generation of New Knowledge and Meaning: Creating Liberating Spaces for Fostering Adult Learning Through Practitioner-Based Collaborative Action Inquiry. Teachers College Record. 107(6). p. 1217-1244.

Trotter, Y.D. (2006) Adult Learning Theories: Impacting Professional Development Programs. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin. Winter, p. 8-13.

Pohland, P. & Bova, B. (2000). Professional Development as Transformational Learning. International Journal of Leadership in Education. 3(2) p. 137-150.

Follow the link below for the article shared in class:
Roberson, D. (2005). Personal learning of older, rural adults [Electronic Verson] (ERIC Document Repordution Service No ED490437).

Links to more information about Self-Directed Learning:

Self-Directed Learning Website .... Maurice Gibbons

Brockett, R.G. & Hiemstra, R. (1991)

International Society for Self-Directed Learning

Professional Learning & Training for SDL

Self Diagnosis and Planning Future Learning