ANDRAGogY: Adult Learning

There are many times we look to relate knowledge we have previously learned to current information presented. I consider this a way for adults to reassure confidence in prior knowledge is still relevant. Previous theories and psychological evaluations of the acquisition of knowledge, and retrieval of knowledge, approach learning as a stimulus-response through a learner’s physical or mental capabilities. Still, these options do not explicitly consider emerging technology implications on an adult’s perception of time. The time needed to process, organize, store, and recall information has decreased, allowing learners to synthesize material and build a more profound understanding in a short time frame (Cercone, 2008). The unique approach to understanding adult learners’ needs and motivation is called andragogy (Conlan, Grabowski & Smith, 2003). Andragogy uses five assumptions to facilitate adult learning effectively (Cercone, 2008). Adult learners are self-directed, internally motivated, problem-centered as it relates to current social roles, and rich in life experiences (Conlan et al, 2003).

Adult learners are often self-directed learners; however, that does not imply facilitation or environmental influences are not needed for absorption. Research has concluded the importance of social interaction as knowledge is presented. Only allowing self-directed learners in one specific environment would not allow the adequate communication needed for the deeper, or expert level of understanding. In expertise theories, adults process information quickly, analyze problems and mistakes more efficiently than novices (Conlan et al, 2003). Experts are assumed after repeated findings maintain and excel learning in their domain (Conlan et al, 2003). In my opinion, expert learners and novice learners can facilitate a better understanding. Novice learners can give different interpreted beliefs that expert levels can explore, thus maximizing both individual’s capacity for learning. However, I feel there is a point in education and or training where a self-directed learning environment would benefit expert level learners, such as a thesis or high-level management training. In these types of situations, the cognitive processing ability is more advanced and requires the application of knowledge concepts in a reflective “self-narrative” where there is no right or wrong.

The best way to reduce juggling “life” and adult education, in my opinion, is the use of online eLearning platforms. Adults are often tight scheduled, and making additional time to continue education is hard. Online learning offers facilitated direction with little face-to-face instruction, opening the pathway for self-driven learning but, more importantly, the internal identification of motivation triggers (Cercone, 2008).

In my opinion, adult learners do cognitively process information the same as children do. If there were no similarities between the two, we would not be able to apply multiple theories to each side. The critical differentiator is going to be in the response. Children are not going to have as many prior experiences to push the organization of memory effectively. In my interpretation of Dr. Anthony Artino’s post concerning the differences in training and education, learning in a child could be referred to as “training” centered education. Responses are often processed as new knowledge, or with little prior situational experience. Adult learners are pushed more into an “educational” centered approach where individuals construct answers to complex problems by applying previous experiences to further cognitive abilities (Artino, 2020). As children, most information learned will be challenged or relevant in future situations generating an implied task time frame. As adult learners, a task can have flourished rapidly; however, the knowledge constructed challenge the “knows” of the presented material. 

In conclusion, In my opinion, there are two main components to consider when designing for andragogy, adult online instruction. The Learner and the means of facilitation coexist to deepen the level of education. The Learner also must be presented with clear, goal-oriented solution that relates to the corresponding social environment (Cercone, 2008)


Artino, A. (2020, June 3). Re: Education vs. Training [Comment]. Retrieved from

Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137–159. Retrieved from

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching and technology. Retrieved from

Foley, G. (Ed.). 2004. Dimensions of adult learning: Adult education and training in a global era. McGraw-Hill Education.