Since adult learners are different from young learners in many ways, it is important to know what are adult learning principles. For many adults, learning is needs oriented, they are disciplined and bring their life experiences formed into attitudes to the classroom. Thus, the methods of interacting with adult learners are different compared to young learners who have no real world experience or intrinsic motivation.
The Role of Andragogy in Adult Learning
This concept derived in Europe in early nineteenth century influenced most of the principles of adult learning. Andragogy was used synonymous with the science of adult learning since then, in contrast to Pedagogy that focused on young learners. Malcolm Knowles, an American educationist, was prominent in the formulation of most of these principles influenced by Andragogy in 1970s.
Knowles’ Principles of Adult Learning
Knowles introduced six principles of adult learning. They are as follows:
• Learners’ Need to Know
• Self-Concept of the Learner
• Prior Experience of the Learner
• Readiness to Learn
• Orientation to Learn
• Motivation to Learn
Learners’ Need to Know
Unlike young learners, adults are keen on the objectives of learning. This means getting to know “why” and “how” the teaching is going to be useful for them. The applicability of the learnings in the real world can get adult learners interested in the learning process.
Self-Concept of Learners
This means learners are more self – directed and independent in the learning process. As a result, adult learners are not dependent on the teacher, and they are disciplined . They willingly involve in learning and completing given tasks.
Prior Experience of the Learner
Learners have got abundant of real world experience to draw from which is an added advantage in learning. The knowledge about the society as well as their own mistakes, errors assist them in the understanding of theoretical concepts of the classroom.
Readiness to Learn
Since adults see the relevance and applicability of what they learn to their social life or work environments, they are well prepared for learning compared to young learners.
Orientation to Learn
The adult learning is needs and problem oriented. This is a shift from subject centered learning. Learning for adults takes place in specific contexts that are most of the time simulations to problem solving in their working environments.
Motivation to Learn
For adults, motivation to engage in the learning process is intrinsic, it does not come from outside sources like parents as in the case of young learners.
These principles of adult learning introduced by Malcolm Knowles that are described above demarcated Andragogy from Pedagogy the two key conceptions of adult and young learner education.