Course Design - Today’s Learners

Andragogy – Adult Learners

Our students are different from school children in many distinctive ways. Andragogy is an instructional theory specifically for adult learners. Malcolm Knowles contends that the andragogy model has four basic assumptions about adult learners:

  1. Adults need to know why they need to learn something;
  2. Adults need to learn experientially;
  3. Adults approach learning as problem-solving;
  4. Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

The andragogy theory clearly suggests that as instructors, we need to take our students’ needs, experiences, and learning preferences into consideration. When teaching our students, we need to focus more on helping students to “get there” rather than transmit all the content to them. Experiential learning approaches such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluation are highly valuable in such context. Instructors act as facilitator rather than lecturer or transmitter.

For more information about andragogy and adult learners, please refer to the following resources:

  • Knowles, M. S. (1980). Modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Revised and updated. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, Association Press. 
  • Theory into Practice (TIP) website: Andragogy (M. Knowles) http://tip.psychology.org/knowles.html

Understanding the Net Generation

Understanding our students can help us to better teach them. It is very likely that today we have multiple generations of students in one classroom. While we know more about baby boomers (1943-1961) and generation X (1961-1981), we may be less familiar with what is called generation Y, or the net generation. The short video below– A Vision of Students Today, summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today. The video was created by cultural anthropology professor Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

For more information about teaching for different generations, please refer to the following resources:

This page last updated 24th Jun 2013