Pedagogy and andragogy may be mysterious terms to you; I know they sure were when I first became an Instructional Designer, without a background in Education. I would often see these terms crop up in Statements of Work or High-Level Design Documentation to the effect of “following principles of andragogy…” or “adhering to proven pedagogical approaches…”. I had heard of pedagogy before this time, but andragogy? That was a new one. It wasn’t until I began my Masters of Education (Post-Secondary Studies) that I fully understood those two terms.

Pedagogy and Andragogy

Pedagogy can be considered the practice of teaching, and when folks refer to ‘pedagogical approaches’, they’re talking about the methods of teaching used to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.The term pedagogy is Greek, meaning ‘child’ and ‘lead’ – lead the child - and, in the 21st century, is referenced when specifically discussing the practice of teaching in relation to individuals who have not yet reached adulthood. While the term pedagogy is still used in reference to adults, a newer term has been delegated to the adult learner population – andragogy.

Andragogy focuses on the practice of teaching as it relates to adult learners and uses prior learning and life experiences as a basis for relating information. While perhaps not as well-used as the former term, andragogy emphasizes self-directed learning, and the adults tendency toward this approach to learning. Andragogy is a term you may often hear tossed around with greater frequency due to the growth and emphasis of the lifelong learner.

Still confused? Check these resources out:

MERLOT Pedagogy Portal

Introduction to Andragogy + Pedagogy

Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide

Andragogy (Malcolm Knowles)