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Andragogy and Pedagogy: Defined and Compared

Updated on December 4, 2012
Dr. Haddox profile image

Degrees: 1) Oakland U., 2) Michigan State U (College of Human Medicine), 3) George Washington U. (Medicine), Vanderbilt U. (Divinity School)

Andragogy and Pedagogy


       It appears that a good definition for pedagogy is given by Conner (2005) that pedagogy “literally means the art and science of educating children and often is used as a synonym for teaching. More accurately, pedagogy embodies teacher-focused education” (p. 1). It is important that Conner placed the emphasis on “teacher-focused education” as opposed to learner-focused education. Connor also noted how “John Dewey believed formal schooling was falling short of its potential. Dewey emphasized learning through various activities rather that traditional teacher-focused curriculum. He believed children learned more from guided experience than authoritarian instruction. He ascribed to a learner-focused education philosophy. He held that learning is Life not just preparation for life” (p. 1).

Other articles were useful in this study but this one, by Conner, that I am using as a summary for all the others is most helpful because it deal with both andragogy and pedagogy comparing and contrasting. For example, the Conner article asserts “that andragogic model stresses five issues: (1) that we must let learners know why something is important to learn, (2) that we must show learners how to direct themselves through information, (3) that we must relate topics to the learner’s experiences, (4) that people will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn and (5) that some will require helping them to overcome inhibitions, behaviors, and beliefs about learning” (p. 2).

The idea that education should be learner-focused and not teacher-focused can be seen in the following example. At my Nature training farm it is important to teach students why it is important to grow foods, plants and animals, chemical free. We don’t want to use chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, insecticides and herbicides on our organisms (plants or animals). Adults have many life experiences. For example, a Vietnam Vet remembers all his war buddies who died premature deaths because they were exposed to “Agent Orange,” a powerful herbicide, so he or she readily sees the value of not applying chemicals to the plants that we must eat. A child, six years old, may not readily see the value of chemical free because there are no life experiences to compare the concept to. This does not mean that we cannot teach children these concepts but our methods may have to be different.

      Other great articles that helped me to understand andragogy were written by Smith, M.K. (on Malcolm Knowles) and Carlson, R. (also a discourse on Malcolm Knowles). One can go on the internet to find good sources of theories for a summary of andragogy, that are well written and simple. One question that we have to consider is, “Why do children and adults learn differently?”  Conner’s article made a point that “the sole difference is that children have fewer experiences and pre-established beliefs than adults and thus have less to relate” (p. 2).

This whole idea that children have fewer experiences and pre-established beliefs than adults can help explain learning differences.


Carlson, R. (1989). Malcolm Knowles: apostles of Andragogy. Retrieved on October 24, 2008, from

Conner, M.L. (2005). Andragogy and Pedagogy. Retrieved on October 25, 2008, from

Smith, M.K. (2002). Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and anadragogy: the encyclopedia of informal education. Retrieved on October 25, 2008, from

TIP: Theories. (2008). Andragogy (M. Knowles). Retrieved October 24, 2008, from


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      Eisa Johali 5 years ago

      Where are you from "Eisa Ali Johali The philosophies and sciences of teaching, learning and the curriculum in the United Kingdom Project 2000 and in the Saudi Arabian nursing education programmes : towards a philosophy of science-based Saudi Arabian nursing education" covers Andragogy the millennium meaningful learning