Theories Of Learning Essay Example
Theories Of Learning Essay Example

Theories Of Learning Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (956 words)
  • Published: August 15, 2016
  • Type: Essay
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This assignment will discuss the theory of andragogy, a theory of learning. It will explore various aspects of andragogy and compare it to other theories of learning. The theory, closely connected with Malcolm Knowles' work, has been around for nearly two centuries. The assessment will concentrate on how this theory applies to higher education students' experiences. The field of adult learning is continually evolving through research and theoretical advancements (Merriam, 2008, p2).

According to Malcolm Knowles (1970), andragogy is an approach to education that focuses on the learner and is especially applicable to non-traditional adult learners. Knowles argues that once individuals develop a self-concept of essential self-direction, they psychologically transition into adulthood. On the other hand, Atherton J. S (2005, p1) states that Knowles views pedagogy as a form of education dominated by teachers and more suitable for children


's learning.

According to Knowles, andragogy is defined as the "art and science of helping adults learn" (as cited by Bartle, 2008 p1). Additionally, Knowles states that adults are self-directed, problem-solving learners who possess valuable life experience as a learning resource. As a result, the traditional hierarchical relationship between teacher and student is replaced with active participation from the adult learner in their education, including influencing the curriculum and determining learning objectives (Bartle, 2008 p1).

Knowles’ assumptions are based on five fundamental facts. Firstly, as an individual grows older, their self-concept transitions from dependence to self-direction. Secondly, with maturity comes the accumulation of valuable experience that aids in learning. Thirdly, as individuals mature, their readiness to learn becomes more concentrated on the developmental tasks linked to their social roles. Lastly,

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there is a focus on orientation to learning.

As individuals age, their perspective on time evolves from emphasizing the postponement of knowledge application to immediately applying it. This shift also leads to a change in their approach to learning, shifting the focus from specific subjects to problem-solving. According to Knowles (1984:12), as cited by Smith M. K (1996; 1999 p1), the motivation for learning becomes internal as individuals mature. These assumptions spark substantial debate, suggesting that all adults go through a transition from dependent to self-directed learning and must take accountability for their own choices.

According to Smith M. K (1996; 1999), adults should be treated as capable of self-direction. Knowles (1970) suggests that adults should take part in designing their own development tasks, while educators should assist in clarifying goals and offering ideas, resources, and feedback for guidance. Additionally, Smith M. K (1996; 1999) cites Knowles' belief that adults learn effectively through educational techniques such as discussions and problem solving.

Sometimes, experimental learning may not be suitable, particularly when a significant amount of new information needs to be learned and a decision must be made regarding its relevance before making judgments (Smith M K, 1969; 1999). It can be contended that various experiences could introduce bias and presumption. Knowles' third assumption about readiness to learn highlights the point at which the significance of studying becomes apparent for accomplishing a specific task. It could be understood as adults learning things that are practical rather than captivating or fascinating – don't we also learn some things purely for enjoyment?

According to Dewey (1993), the literature on reflection (e.g. Boud et al 1985) suggests that

age and amount of experience do not have an educational impact (cited by Smith M K, 1996;1999). If this is true, it raises questions about Knowles' assumptions on the difference between andragogy and pedagogy. Knowles views orientation to learning as conditioned rather than natural learning (as cited by Smith M. K, 1996; 1999).

According to Knowles (1970), the educator should ensure that the adults' desire for growth and anticipated results are clear, personal, and realistic. He also mentions that adults are goal-oriented in their learning. Additionally, Knowles (as cited by Bartle, 2008) suggests that as adults, the motivation to learn becomes internal, inquiry-based, and directed by the learner. He further suggests that in adult education, the relationship between the educator and the learner is one of mutual responsibility, with the educator being seen more as a guide or coach.

The educator values the learner's life experiences and serves as a supportive colleague, enhancing their self-esteem and sense of achievement (Knowles, cited by Bartle, 2008 p4). This environment facilitates the adult's personal growth and progress towards independent learning. In contrast to andragogy, the constructivist theory of learning, as proposed by Biggs (2003), emphasizes the learners' knowledge and their learning strategies, positing that learning goes beyond mere acquisition of information, but also involves transforming our understanding of the world.

According to Biggs (2003, p13), the acquisition of information alone does not cause a change, but the way we organize and process the information does. Angagogy is relevant to higher education students because it acknowledges the extensive learning that occurs throughout life and in non-academic settings, with adult learners being in control.

According to Knowles

(as cited by Bartle, 2008 p4), students should be empowered for self-education, which includes determining course content and self-evaluation. Prominent adult educators also emphasize a student-centered classroom that encourages problem-solving through a curriculum that allows for self-pacing and is designed by the students themselves. Additionally, this approach provides opportunities for risk-taking. The educator's role is to raise student consciousness, acknowledging their life experiences, and creating a democratic, flexible, and personally supportive environment (Bartle, 2008 p4).

The main areas of andragogy, which involve adult learners being self-directed, ready to learn, and intrinsically motivated, have been examined in this assignment. Andragogy has been compared to pedagogy and constructivism theories, emphasizing the differences between them. These findings have been related to the experiences of students in higher education, highlighting the educator's role in remaining meaningful but less instructive, and the learners acquiring the knowledge they need to grow. The field of adult learning continues to expand as research and theory challenge existing ideas and confront learning theories.

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