[ an-druh-goh-jee, -goj-ee ]


  1. the methods or techniques used to teach adults:

    Many educators believe that the principles of andragogy, as advanced by Malcolm Knowles, have great relevance to adult education; others are not so certain.

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Other Words From

  • an·dra·gog·i·cal [an-dr, uh, -, goj, -i-k, uh, l], an·dra·gog·ic adjective
  • an·dra·gog·i·cal·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of andragogy1

First recorded in 1925–30; andr- + (ped)agogy; -agogue, -y 3


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More About Andragogy

What does andragogy mean?

Andragogy refers to the methods used to teach adults.

Although college and university students are often considered adults because they are over age 18 or 21, adults in this context typically refers to those who have already completed their initial course of formal schooling.

The word andragogy is usually used in contrast with pedagogy, which is the art or science of teaching in general, especially as it relates to teaching children in school. Andragogy is typically used as academic jargon. In everyday conversation, the term adult education is more common.

Example: Andragogy should take adult students’ life experience into account, since it will inform how they learn things.

Where does andragogy come from?

Andragogy is made up of the Greek roots andr- (“man”) and -agōgos, (“leader”), making it literally mean “leader of man.” The first record of andragogy in English comes from the 1920s, but it is based on a German term, Andragogik, that was introduced by German educator Alexander Kapp in 1833.

Andragogy typically involves teaching adult learners in a formal setting, but the subject matter could be anything: traditional academic subjects, recreational activities, personal skills, and so on. Of the many different theories about the best way to educate adults, the teachings of U.S. scholar Malcolm Knowles are the most well-known. Knowles taught that adult learning methods should be based on the idea that adults are self-directed (they set their own goals), that they want to know why something is important to learn (how it can be applied in real life), and that they need to learn through experience (by doing).

While these conclusions are often incorporated into adult education programs, scholars debate whether teaching methods specifically designed for different age groups are effective or necessary. Still, due to the popularity of lifelong learning and adult education, andragogy is a frequently discussed topic among educators.

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What are some words that share a root or word element with andragogy?

What are some words that often get used in discussing andragogy?


How is andragogy used in real life?

Andragogy is often used along with other educational jargon. In everyday discussion, especially by noneducators, the term adult education is more commonly used.



Try using andragogy!

True or false?

The field of andragogy teaches that there is only one correct way to teach adults.