According to Sharifi, andragogy (or adult learning theory) is “the education of adults” while pedagogy is the “education of children” (Sharifi, 2017). Andragogy, or the theory of adult learning, follows Knowles’ assumptions about adult learners. For instance, “the assumptions of andragogy follow the beliefs that adults are self-directed, internally motivated, and ready to learn” (McClain, 2019). Sharifi notes that “Knowles’ model [of adult learning theory] is predicated upon four basic assumptions about the learner’s ability, need, and desire to take charge of his or her learning” (Sharifi, 2017). For instance, adult learners are typically assumed to be more independent than children, as well as being more self-directed and motivated to learn. Although there are many similarities, there are also many differences between designing curriculum and facilitating a class for adults rather than for children. Although children are clean slates, adults bring a lifetime of past experiences, existing knowledge, and social or cultural influences into their learning environment. According to McLeod, “educators who connect students with their strengths, positively impact on their stress levels and play an important role in cultivating wellbeing” (McLeod, 2019). 

Andragogy promotes a more autonomic style of learning, which creates an environment where adult learners can be more hands-on and involved in their own learning process. For instance, adult learners may be drive to help “plan their learning” and also “make the choices that best fit them” (Sharifi, 2017). 

By providing a more learner-centered approach to learning, instructional designers and teachers can create a deeper learning environment and teach learners “how to learn” (Sharifi, 2017). Online technologies like digital learning and digital media such as e-portfolios or online activities can all help to assist in this learning process, regardless of learners’ ages. Indeed, information technologies can help transfer knowledge and communicate information in a way that helps learner retention, regardless of whether the education is occurring in a traditional classroom environment or virtually over the internet (online learning). This learner-focused, technologically-assisted learning environment is a much more modern approach than the “authoritarian” teacher-directed learning approach, which was pioneered by Greek philosopher, Plato, according to Wang (Wang, 2011). 



“The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – Infographic” (April 2, 2014). Retrieved from

McClain, Adam. “Lights, Camera, Andragogy! Adult Learning and Development in Film.” (November 2019). Retrieved from

McLeod, Marie. “What’s right with me? A strengths-based teaching approach for students of adult learning.” (2019). Retrieved from

Sharifi, Maryam. “E-portfolio evaluation and vocabulary learning: Moving from pedagogy to andragogy.” (2017). Retrieved from

Wang, Victor. “Title: Pedagogical and Andragogical Teaching and Learning with Information

Communication Technologies.” (2011). Retrieved from