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Adult Learning

All  Mastery Institute services are based in the theory of Adult Learning developed by Malcolm Knowles.  Knowles named his theory of adult learning Andragogy.  This was meant to contrast with the traditional teaching style of pedagogy, which put the focus on the teacher.  In pedagogy, the teacher makes all the decisions and the students unthinkingly obeyed and memorized everything the teacher required.

Andragogy is a student - centered philosophy of learning, and is built upon the following basic assumptions:

  • Adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for their decisions.  They should be involved in the planning and evaluation of learning.
  • Adults bring knowledge and experience to the learning environment.  The instructor must recognize and leverage this.
  • Adults need to know why they are learning something and learn experientially.
  • Adults are goal oriented and approach learning as problem solving.
  • Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate relevance.  They are motivated by internal factors to learn, and don't always respond well to external factors.


Practically speaking, this has many implications.  It means that instructors must always respect their students as equals, and work to find out what they know, what their experience is, and what perspective they bring.  Instruction should be designed to be problem focused rather than content focused.  Learning should be as experiential as possible - so you shouldn't just tell someone how to do something.  You should show them, and then let them try it out.  And the instructor should try to appeal to as many senses as possible, because people have different learning styles.

Andragogy underscores everything we do at the Mastery Institute.  Our consultants have worked with adults for many years and thoroughly understand the concepts and practices of adult learning.


To learn more, explore the following books.  Click on the image of the book to purchase or get more information.








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