Archive for October, 2008
In a recent article at Campus Technology, The Institutional Path for Change in This Age: Andragogy, not Pedagogy, Dr. Trent Batson argues higher education needs to change its educational model, “The education establishment needs to say goodbye to pedagogy and hello to andragogy to create a better fit.”Â I agree with the underlying premise but disagree with the specific argument.Â Our instructional practices need to evolve to adapt to the changing world and to take advantage of communication technologies that make information more readily available than it’s ever been.Â However, the problem has nothing to do with some failure on the part of higher education to teach “adult” learners differently from “child” learners; andragogical principles do not possess unique value in comparison to contemporary learning theories.Â Effective instruction is effective instruction; labeling certain approaches as “pedagogical” or “andragogical” is not meaningful or productive. In pedagogy, the concern is with transmitting the content, while in andragogy, the concern is with facilitating the acquisition of the content. No.Â The concern of pedagogy is not, or rather, should not be “transmitting content.”Â Just because that’s the predominant model does not mean it is effective or correct or endorsed by learning theorists and researchers.Â Simply “transmitting content” is bad instruction regardless of the learner in front of the instructor.Â Contemporary research in pedagogy typically suggests effective instruction is active, authenticbe and collaborative.Â EVERY learner – not just adults – needs (1) to know why something is important to learn, (2) to direct themselves through information, (3) to grasp how the topic relates to their experience, (4) to be ready and motivated to learn, and (5) to develop appropriate attitudes toward their own learning.Â Respectfully, contrary to Dr. Batson’s (and any other’s) suggestion, those five principles are not unique to adult learners. The image of effective instruction in a College or University is not all that different from the image of effective instruction in a High School or Middle School.Â Certainly, the content an 8 or 13 year old may be directing themselves through may be drastically different and less complex than the information a 19 or 28 year old may be engaging, and the younger learners may need more scaffolding and support, but both younger and older learners need to be able to actively engage their own learning process.Â If learners – of any age – are engaging in meaningful conversation with instructors and peers, actively pursuing their own learning process, working to understand how and why they should learn, learning through authentic activities relevant beyond the four walls of the classroom – it’s effective.Â Age has nothing to do with it. More generally, research findings indicate both younger and adult learners appreciate more independent learning opportunities; age is not the identifying characteristic of a learner who is prepared to be more independent of an instructor (England, 2001; Perrin, 2000).Â Self-directed learning results from a fluid, maturation process dependent more upon individual traits rather than simple chronological age (England, 2001).Â Andragogy does not offer a framework or theory of learning capable of uniquely transforming higher education. Your thoughts?