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Knowles' Implications for Application


Historical Overview
Father Knowles
Food for Thought
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The pedagogical and andragogical approach to designing and operating educational program is quite different. The pedagogical model is based on four questions that the teacher must answer:

    1. What content needs to be covered?
    2. How can this content be organized into manageable units?
    3. What would be the most logical sequence in which to present these units?
    4. What would be the most efficient means of transmitting this content?

This linear approach is thought of as 'content' plan.

In contrast, the andragogical approach is considered to be a 'process' design. This process design consists of seven elements.

1. Climate setting  ~ What procedures would be most likely to produce a climate that is conducive to learning?

  • This is an element that a large percentage (as much as 10 percent) of time, in an educational activity, is devoted to. When designing climate consider such things as:
    • Climate of the physical environment.
    • Climate of mutual respect.
    • Climate of collaboration
    • Climate of mutual trust.
    • Climate of supportiveness.
    • Climate of openness and authenticity.
    • Climate of pleasure.
    • Climate of humanness.

2. Involving learners in mutual planning ~ What procedures can be used to get the participants to share in the planning?

3. Involving participants in diagnosing their own needs for learning ~ What procedures can be used for helping learners responsibly and realistically identify what they need to learn?

4. Involving learners in formulating their learning objectives ~ What procedures can be used to help learners translate their diagnosed needs into learning objectives?

  • "Even though there may be a number of unnegotiable requirements, the means by which students accomplish required objectives can be highly individualized" (Knowles, 1984, p. 19).

5. Involving learners in designing learning plans ~ What procedures can be used to help the learners identify resources and devise strategies for using these resources to accomplish their objectives?

6. Helping learners carry out their learning plans~

7. Involving learners in evaluating their learning ~

The andragogical model assigns a dual role to the andragogue (facilitator of learning): First, designer and manager of processes and procedures that will facilitate the acquisition of content by the learners. Second, the role of content resource.

Resources are many and varied and this model assumes that they come from peers, individuals with specialized knowledge and skills in the community, a wide variety of materials and media resources, field experience, etc. The most instrumental role the andragogue plays is acknowledgment and knowledge of all the different resources and the linking of learners with them.


The seven elements of the andragogy model can be adopted in its entirety or simply adapted as needed. Many educators and trainers do not adopt all seven elements, but pick and choose what best fit their educational needs. The element that is most commonly and conveniently adapted is climate.


Knowles, M.S. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.