What Is Andragogy? (Hint: It’s the way adults learn!)

Andragogy is a model of learning that centers on the idea that we are all life-long learners who have an opportunity to learn and grow every day. Malcolm Knowles, an influential American adult educator, contributed to the adoption of andragogy as a widespread learning discipline in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Andragogy versus Pedagogy

To understand andragogy, it’s helpful to consider how it’s different from traditional, pedantic learning, also known as pedagogy. In this learning model, the teacher is the sole holder of knowledge, and he or she dictates how, what, and when students will learn. There is a one-way distribution of knowledge, in which learners are dependent on the teacher. It’s assumed that students have nothing to contribute.

Through andragogy, the distribution of knowledge is circular and reciprocal, rather than linear. There’s a collaborative sharing of experience among learners, and learning is centered on real-life situations. Each learner is responsible for his or her own learning.

Andragogy in Business

Dr. John Aldridge, program director in the College of Adult and Graduate Studies at Colorado Christian University, notes the commonalities between andragogy and 21st Century knowledge management in business.

“We’re seeing a migration from the business manager as ‘the knower’ to everyone in the organization sharing their knowledge for competitive advantage,” John observes.
“Knowledge management is built on a new paradigm — not from the top down, but within and between groups.”

The Role of Andragogy in Adult Education at CCU

In CCU’s adult degree programs, andragogy plays a prominent role in the learning experience.

CCU students learn in an environment in which the spirit is to seek the truth. They’re encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, analyze real-life problems and situations from a Christian worldview, and collaborate and learn from others. It’s a transformational experience in which learners apply theory to practice.

The goal is to inspire students to experience the world around them as an active participant, whether they’re in or out of class. Ultimately, as life-long learners, CCU graduates are better equipped to succeed in a collaborative environment and shape the new business paradigm.

Author: Ann Lillie



  • melinda rotramel

    I am completing my dissertation for my doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on andragogy from Linden wood University. My mentor is Dr. John Henschke. I am curious about your program and your courses. My dissertation focuses on the application of andragogy and the principles of backward design to the development and implementation of corporate curriculum development. I am particularly interested in looking at trust as a change agent. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    Melinda Rotramel