At age eighteen, I sustaining a traumatic brain injury which impacted my ability to learn, remember and recall information. I had spent my youth finding the learning process to be easy, had no trouble recalling information, and achieved outstanding grades within school, but now I was faced with failing grades, limited ability to recall conversations, information, course material, etc. Doctors and counselors put me through many neuropsychological tests to measure my brain function, intelligence level, and learning styles post-injury. In order to succeed in my education pursuits, I researched and practiced methods of learning, studying, and memory retention and was able to graduate from university with straight A’s my final year. The experience I went through gave me a great deal of insight into elements of learning and led me to this research project on Andragogy to further my knowledge about the learning process.

This report will outline the origin and theory of Andragogy and the assumptions it is based on, providing an outline for important criteria to include for adult learners. The Experiential Learning Cycle will also be examined and both theories will then be applied to the course content for HRM-8070 – Training and Development to provide a clear depiction of requirements for adult learners. An example course format will be created which will provide essential elements to develop the knowledge and skills of students, enhancing their ability to understand and retain the information being taught.


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The term Andragogy was first coined in the 1800s by a German educator named Alexander Kapp, to illustrate Plato’s theory on education. Andragogy referred to the education of adults, and Pedagogy referred to the education of children and youth (Appendix A). The term did not gain popularity and was abandoned for several years. (

In the early 1900s, the term Andragogy was utilized by Eduard Lindeman in his book, The Meaning of Adult Education. Lindeman lead the way for adult education with many texts about community organization and group work. He articulated that education drew on informal learning, not bound by classrooms; focused on situations not subjects, and should be based on people’s experiences. In Lindeman’s view, a situational approach suited adult learning, with teachers and text books playing a secondary role. Worthwhile education consisted of learning through small group discussions, required no exams, and learning content came together with life, not after graduation. He believed that education was a technique to give situations setting, and to analyze the complex and break it down to comprehensible parts. While Lindeman’s book outlined a refreshing new outlook on adult education, it was loosely written and displayed many inconsistencies, making it difficult to apply. (

In the 1980s, Malcolm Knowles expanded the term Andragogy into a theory for adult education. The premise behind this was that adult learning varied substantially to that of children and youths. Knowles outlined several assumptions about adult learning, including; Self-direction occurs as a person matures and makes decisions on their own; they utilize past experiences and information gained from them while working through current experiences; they develop a readiness to learn in order to accomplish tasks of their social roles; Orientation to learning moves from being subject-centered to problem centered as a person matures; and as they mature, they develop an internal motivation to learn. (

Knowles’ Principles of Andragogy

  • The necessity to be a part of the planning and evaluation of teaching
  • The foundation for learning activities comes from experience
  • Subjects that have immediate relevance to the individual’s job or personal life are of most interest to them
  • Adult learning is process-oriented rather than content-oriented


Knowles devised a model for adult learners, based on his assumptions, which could be utilized by teachers and learners. The model included 5 steps:

  1. Diagnose the needs of learners
  2. Formulate needs of learning
  3. Identification of resources for learning
  4. Choosing and implementing an appropriate strategy for learning
  5. Evaluation of outcomes of learning


Knowles recognized that adult’s experiences were a rich source for learning and emphasized the importance of experiential techniques to utilize, such as group discussion, case studies and simulation exercises. He noted that a combination of lectures, problem based learning, role play and discussion as strategies for teaching which had the greatest influence. (

The experiential learning cycle, developed by David Kolb and Roger Fry, outlines learning as the attainment of new knowledge, ability and attitudes. The learning process is seen as a cycle with four stages including; experience, reflection, thinking and application.

Kolb and Fry point out the cycle of learning as beginning at any of the four stages and following through step by step. After one step is complete, the individual sees the effects of that step, then moves on to the next one, following through with it and seeing its effects, and so on, until they are able to apply what is learned after completion of all steps. The individual is able to generalize their learning after a series of experiences with this process. This cycle, coupled with the use of feedback provides a good background for the experiential learning process, which is appropriate for adult learners.


At this point, the principles of Andragogy and Experiential Learning have been applied to the course material for Training & Development – HRM-8070 and a schedule for Course Delivery and Assignment Content is outlined below:

JAN 18

CLASS 1 -Lecture – Performance Management & Performance Appraisal Methods

Small Group Discussions – Experiences with and methods for Performance Management and Performance Appraisals

JAN 25

DISCUSSION POST 1- Problem-Based Learning – Performance Management

Ill-constructed problem relating to performance management is contextualized and students post solutions to stimulate discussion and strategies for problem solving.

Instructor provides feedback and grades based on content of discussion.



CLASS 2 -Lecture – Needs Analysis And Discuss Training Design Requirements

Small Groups conduct Needs Analysis and discuss objectives, outcomes, evaluation, training plan

FEB 15

TRAINING ASSIGNMENT PART A: Needs Analysis & Self Critique

Instructor provides feedback and recommendations


FEB 22

TRAINING ASSIGNMENT PART B: Objectives/Outcomes & Evaluation Instrument

Instructor provides feedback and recommendations



TRAINING ASSIGNMENT PART C: Train Design & Lesson Plan

Instructor provides feedback and recommendations



CLASS 3 – Training Delivery & Evaluation (Role Play)

Small Groups deliver Training Module & classmates and Instructor Evaluate- feedback returned by next class


MAR 15

Discussion Post 2 – Case Study – Employee Development

Narrative situation presenting the need to create employee development programs and students post solutions to stimulate discussion and strategies for problem solving and program requirements.

Instructor provides feedback and grades based on content of discussion



Research Project – any area of Performance Management, Training or Employee Development

Individual Project – Based on information from text, and elaboration and application is required

Instructor provides feedback and grades based on content of project


APR 12

CLASS 4 – Educational Game

Simulation exercise with the goal of modeling a real training problem.

Class discussion about resolution to the problem

Exam Review

APR 28





The chart outlines a course design for HRM-8070 – Training and Development, including class material and assignment content. Principles of Andragogy were applied, including teaching and learning strategies such as; lectures, problem-based learning, case studies, educational games, Role play and group discussions, as suggested by Andragogy theorists.

The information provided for class material and assignment content are in line with Lindeman’s principles for Andragogy including; education drawing on informal learning, focusing on situations not subjects, and utilizing small group discussions as a means of educating the adult learner. The course outline also follows Knowles’ guidelines including; the use of experience as a foundation for learning activities, assignments that are process-oriented, and subjects that are of most interest to the students because they have choice in topics for both the training project and the research project.

The structure provided is also in line with Kolb and Fry’s Experiential Learning Cycle because it includes stages for the design of the training program; the effects of the steps can be seen after completion and ease the transition into following steps. This allows the individual to generalize their learning through experiencing those steps. The use of instructor feedback provides support to the process, and is appropriate for the adult learner who is able to experience, reflect, think, and apply the learned information to projects within the course.


In order to provide an appropriate learning environment for adults, it is important to take into consideration the principles of Andragogy including; Self-direction; utilization of past experiences and information gained from previous work; a readiness to learn in order to accomplish tasks and social roles; problem-centered orientation; and an internal motivation to learn. Group discussions and feedback assist the learning process and provide the framework for analyzing complex situations and breaking them down into comprehensible parts. Effective strategies for teaching and learning are experiential; allowing the individual to experience, reflect, think and apply information which promotes the ability to generalize learning. The application of these elements into HRM-8070-Training & Development has provided a clear view of essential components to be included while teaching the adult learner. According to the theories for Andragogy and Experiential Learning Cycle, this method of delivery will provide essential elements necessary for adults to learn and comprehend the required content for HRM-8070- Training & Development.


Andragogy vs. Pedagogy



The Learner

§ The learner is dependent upon the instructor for all learning

§ The teacher/instructor assumes full responsibility for what is taught and how it is learned

§ The teacher/instructor evaluates learning

§ The learner is self-directed

§ The learner is responsible for his/her own learning

§ Self-evaluation is characteristic of this approach

Role of the Learner’s Experience

§ The learner comes to the activity with little experience that could be tapped as a resource for learning

§ The experience of the instructor is most influential

§ The learner brings a greater volume and quality of experience

§ Adults are a rich resource for one another

§ Different experiences assure diversity in groups of adults

§ Experience becomes the source of self-identity

Readiness to Learn

§ Students are told what they have to learn in order to advance to the next level of mastery § Any change is likely to trigger a readiness to learn

§ The need to know in order to perform more effectively in some aspect of one’s life is important

§ Ability to assess gaps between where one is now and where one wants and needs to be

Orientation to Learning

§ Learning is a process of acquiring prescribed subject matter

§ Content units are sequenced according to the logic of subject matter

§ Learners want to perform a task, solve a problem, live in a more satisfying way

§ Learning must have relevance to real-life tasks

§ Learning is organized around life/work situations rather than subject matter units

Motivation for Learning

§ Primarily motivated by external pressures, competition for grades, and consequences of failure § Internal motivators: self-esteem, recognition, better quality of life, self-confidence, self-actualization
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