What are Adult Learning Principles? with Proper Definition and Brief Explanation

Since adult learners are different from youth in many ways, it is important to know what the principles of adult learning are. For many adults, learning is needs-oriented, disciplined, and carries their shaped life experiences into classroom attitudes. Therefore, the methods of interacting with adult learners are different compared to young people who have no real world experience or intrinsic motivation.

The role of andragogy in adult learning

This concept derived in Europe in the early 19th century influenced most of the principles of adult learning. Andragogy was used synonymously with the science of adult learning ever since, in contrast to pedagogy that focused on young people. Malcolm Knowles, an American educationist, was prominent in formulating most of these andragogy-influenced principles in the 1970s.

Knowles Principles of Adult Learning

Knowles introduced six principles of adult learning. They are as follows:

  •  Need to know from students
  •  Self-concept of the learner
  •  Previous experience of the apprentice
  •  Preparation to learn
  •  Orientation to learn.
  •  Motivation to learn.

Students’ need to know                   What are adult learning principles

Unlike young learners, adults are interested in learning goals. This means knowing “why” and “how” the teaching will be helpful to them. The applicability of learning in the real world can make adult learners interested in the learning process.

Self-concept of learners

This means that students are more self-directed and independent in the learning process. As a result, adult learners are not dependent on the teacher and are disciplined. They voluntarily engage in learning and completing given tasks.

Previous experience of the apprentice

Learners have a wealth of real-world experience to draw on, which is an added advantage in learning. The knowledge of society, as well as their own mistakes, errors help them to understand the theoretical concepts of the classroom.

Preparation to learn

Since adults see the relevance and applicability of what they learn in their social life or in their work environments, they are well prepared for learning compared to young people.

Orientation to learn

Adult learning is oriented to needs and problems. This is a change from subject-centered learning. Adult learning takes place in specific contexts which are mostly time simulations to solve problems in their work environments.

Motivation to learn

For adults, the motivation to participate in the learning process is intrinsic, it does not come from external sources such as parents, as in the case of young students.

These principles of adult learning introduced by Malcolm Knowles that are described above demarcate Andragogy from Pedagogy, the two key conceptions of adult and youth education.

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