Andrological and pedagogical differences for online instructors

Pedagogical and Andragogical Learning Approaches in Adult Learners

There are a number of fundamental differences between pedagogical and andragogical approaches to both instruction and learning. However, the principle point of distinction between the two is this: the former is designed for young learners (Miemstra and Sisco, 1990) and for those who have a circumscribed amount of information and life experience to bring to a particular subject, whereas the latter is designed for adults and for individuals who can substantially enhance a discussion or points of education about a topic. In the use case in which a senior supervisor or manager of an organization asked an individual to design a program to increase employee awareness of sexual harassment and train workers in the appropriate ways to deal with harassment or complaints, one would obviously favor the andragogical method because it caters more towards adult learners. However, there are still some basic concepts of pedagogy that are valid and which could assist the professional designing the aforementioned training instruction. As such, it is prudent to utilize a synthesized approach that incorporates the best aspect of each methodology.

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Within a pedagogical framework, instructors present themselves as authoritarian figures. The basic model for pedagogy is that the instructor is the expert on a subject and is going to impart his or her information to the students who can only hope to gain an understanding on the subject from the instructor. Furthermore, there is a rigidity to the nature of the objectives and the way that the instruction is issued, which frequently takes the form of non-creative means such as lectures or by students writing down information that the instructor has transposed on a whiteboard. In general, pedagogy is much more passive for the students, who are simply absorbing everything about the topic about which the instructor provides information. Despite this formal rigidity, it would be beneficial to conduct the training session on sexual harassment with an instructor who was an expert in the field. He or she should partition his or her time so that only a finite portion of the training session (certainly no more than a third of it) would be devoted to presenting the employees with information in a conventional pedagogical fashion. Moreover, since sexual harassment is a topic which virtually all employees are familiar with or perhaps even directly experienced, the instructor should attempt to present little known or even unusual aspects of this subject and its ramifications to employees during this time period.

The remaining two thirds of the time should be used engaging the employees in andragogical approaches to instruction and learning. If doing so requires a different instructor, then the session will simply have two such educators. However, the focus of andragogical measures is to engage the students, and to facilitate self-directed learning (Gibbons and Wentworth, 2001). This methodology assumes that the participants have a bevy of experience and information which they can contribute to a discussion about a certain subject that will actually enhance the facilitation of learning about it (Barton, 2007). Thus, instructors utilizing this approach actually seek to solicit the input from participants, and participation plays a crucial role in the degree of learning for everyone involved. In attempts to engage participations, there are different methods of conveying didactic concepts in this type of instruction, which usually takes the form of role playing and other interactive exercises to generate discussion and thought on a particular subject. There are certain objectives that andragogical instructors hope to achieve, but there is an elasticity and non-formal approach to achieving them that can actually help to edify everyone, even the instructor.

As previously mentioned, the training session for sexual harassment would likely begin with a lecture from a pedagogue regarding the nature of sexual harassment, and the many different forms (whether intended or not) such a thing takes. The latter topic would probably be the aspect of the subject that most people are not aware of (how subtle and even unintentional harassment can be) and would require firm pedagogy to impress this point upon the employees. This part of the session would incorporate the rigidity of pedagogy and the lecture format (ideally in the form of a power point) would probably serve most useful. Additionally, the pedagogue involved may also want to detail all of the requisite steps to take in the instance of sexual harassment.

Nonetheless, the bulk of the training will incorporate andragogical measures. One of the most effective ways to do so would be to divide the employees up into groups and enable to discuss amongst themselves their opinions of and the suggestions for a series of hypothetical situations that involve issues related to sexual harassment. Once the small groups had a chance to work through these issues, they could elect a spokesperson and share their results with the rest of the employees. After every group’s spokesperson presented the results the employees could have the opportunity to collectively discuss the results, and to denote the various points of emphases that they would have on these scenarios. Utilizing this aspect of an andragogical approach would induce thought provoking discussion, which could further help employees to see how delicate the boundaries of sexual harassment are. It would also facilitate employee participation and let the learners take charge of their own learning, as well as understand the various aspects of this subject.


Barton, R. (2007). Pedagogy vs. andragogy. Retrieved from

Gibbons, H.S., Wentworth, G.P. (2001). Andrological and pedagogical differences for online instructors. Retrieved from

Hiemstra, R., Sisco, B. (1990). Moving from pedagogy to andragogy. Retrieved from

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