EPD - Teaching & Learning - Theories & Principles - Adult Learning Theory

Adult learning theory, or andragogy, encourages learning that is self-driven.

Adult Learning Theory


The following video discusses Adult Learning Theory and Malcolm Knowles's six assumptions of adult learners.

In summary, adult learners are motivated by practical application and need the following principles of andragogy to flourish in an educational environment (Toister, 2014):

 Principle Explanation
Need to KnowAdults need to know why they are being asked to learn.
ExperienceLearning should be build upon existing knowledge.
Self-ConceptAdults need to be held responsible for their own growth and learning.
ReadinessMotivation increases when there's an immediate need to learn.
Problem OrientationLearning should be problem-oriented, not content-oriented.
Intrinsic MotivationAdults learn best when motivated from within, not from incentives or other external influences.


Courses must:

  • Explain the purpose of activities
  • Know their audience
  • Hold learners accountable
  • Promote problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Motivate learners to be engaged with the material


Keywords:LDT, teaching and learning theories, designing online courses, instructional design, instructional technology, adult learning, andragogy   Doc ID:99457
Owner:Rebecca K.Group:Engineering Professional Development - Department Resources
Created:2020-03-25 12:44 CDTUpdated:2021-07-14 13:49 CDT
Sites:Engineering Professional Development - Department Resources, Interdisciplinary Professional Programs
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