Adult Learners: Characteristics, Qualities, and Needs

Andragogy is the study of how adults learn and is a theory developed by Malcolm Knowles based on a variety of research centered on adult development, needs, and learning styles. This document includes a description of Knowles’ five underlying assumptions, along with specific applications of these five components expanded upon by other researchers and theorists. More recent theories of adult learning have called these assumptions into question, proposing that there may be degrees or certain conditions under which they apply or that self-direction, for instance, may be desirable but not always the reality of adult learners. Nevertheless, these assumptions continue to serve widely as a general guide for thinking about adult learners. 

Andragogy is the study of how adults learn and is a theory developed by Malcolm Knowles based on a variety of research centered on adult development, needs, and learning styles. This document includes a description of Knowles’ five underlying assumptions, along with specific applications of these five components expanded upon by other researchers and theorists. More recent theories of adult learning have called these assumptions into question, proposing that there may be degrees or certain conditions under which they apply or that self-direction, for instance, may be desirable but not always the reality of adult learners. Nevertheless, these assumptions continue to serve widely as a general guide for thinking about adult learners. 

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