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Knowles' 5 Assumptions
The following is a comparison/contrast of the pedagogical method and Knowles' 5 assumptions of andragogy.


The Pedagogical Model

The Andragogical Model

1.  The learner is a dependent personality and the teacher has full responsibility for making all the decisions about what should be learned, how and when it should be learned, and whether it has been learned.

1.  As a person matures, his or her self-concept makes the transformation from being a dependent learner to becoming increasingly self-directing.

2.  Learners enter the educational activity with little or no experience that is of value. It is the experience of the teacher, the textbook writers, and the audiovisual aids producers that count.

2. The adult learner enters into an educational activity with both a greater volume and a different quality of experiences that is of value and a resource for learning

3.  Students become ready to learn what they are told they need to learn in order to advance to the next grade or course.

3. Adults become ready to learn when they experience a need to know something in order to perform more effectively in some aspect of their lives.

4.  Students see learning as a process of acquiring prescribed subject matter content. Consequently, the curriculum is organized according to content units and is sequenced according to the logic of the subject matter.

4. Adults are not subject centered, but learn in order to be able to better perform a task, solve a problem, or live in a more satisfying way; there is direct relevance to a person's life. Learning builds on concepts or experiences.

5.  Students are motivated primarily by external pressures from parents and teachers, competition for grades, the consequences of failure, and the like.

5. Adults will respond to some external motivators, but the more potent motivators are internal --   self-esteem, recognition, better quality of life, self-actualization, etc.


Knowles, M.S. (1970). The Modern Practice of Adult Education: Andragogy versus Pedagogy.  NewYork: Association Press.

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

Merriam, S.B., and Caffarella, R.S. (1999). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide,  (2nd Edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.