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Rachal's 7 Criteria for Andragogical Studies


Historical Overview
Father Knowles
Food for Thought
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1.Voluntary participation - Learning situations examined should not have externally imposed negative consequences for nonparticipation, rather learners should be motivated to learn the material because it is intrinsically interesting or useful to them. As Knowles (1984) stated, "Although it acknowledges that adults will respond to some external motivators--a better job, a salary increase, and the like--the andragogical model predicates that the more potent motivators are internal--self-esteem, recognition, better quality of life, greater self-confidence, self-actualization, and the like."

2. Adult status - In order to comply with this criteria, "adult" needs to be defined. Rachal (2002) suggests that it refer to "learners who have assumed the social and culturally-defined roles characteristic of adulthood and who perceive themselves to be adult, or, if those qualities are not ascertainable, learners who have achieved an age, such as 25." Future studies should therefore avoid the use of college settings where groups are traditionally a mix of adults and nonadults according to this definition. However, college settings are convenient and popular so, if used, the researcher should create 4 groups: adult andragogy, adult pedagogy, nonadult andragogy, and nonadult pedagogy.

3. Collaboratively-determined objectives - Researchers should focus on settings wherein the learner has a substantive role in significant aspects of planning activities or where there is clear, strong pre-existing congruence between instructor and learner objectives.

4. Performance-based assessment of achievement-Evidence, criteria and means for evaluation should be mutually determined by facilitator and learner, preferably via direct means that are considered more "real world" than paper-pencil tests.

5. Measuring satisfaction - Given that most adult education activities do not have mastery or acquisition of a skill as their objective, this is a critical component to andragogical research.

6. Appropriate adult learning environment - It is imperative that studies attempt to insure that both the physical and psychological environments are as congruent as possible with Knowles' guidelines. Included within this is respect for the learner as an adult, respect for the learners experiences, fostering a collaborative effort, and minimizing anxiety. This is difficult to standardize but, in general, the facilitator should exhibit friendliness, confidence, content knowledge, charisma, empathy, humor, expressiveness, enthusiasm, body language, fairness, kindness, respect and understanding.

7. Technical issues - This last criteria maintains the importance of an adequate sample size (i.e. number of participants), equal and appropriate treatment duration, informed consent, and the comparability of groups. Another important aspect concerns the facilitator component. Should a single facilitator conduct both treatments? The potential for bias, albeit unintentional, exists in this situation. However, the use of separate facilitators introduces inevitable individual differences. Ideally, if separate facilitators are used, the researchers should match them as closely as possible for experience, ability, content knowledge and teaching evaluations.



Rachal, J.R. (2002). Andragogy's Detectives: A critique of the present and a proposal for the future. Adult Education Quarterly, 52 (3), 210-227.