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Wyndham College

Wyndham College

Working together to widen horizons

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Wyndham College follows the principles of andragogy for teaching and learning. Our philosophy of education is closely aligned with adult style learning. Students are encouraged to interact with staff using the teachers first name to foster a positive and respectful adult learning environment.

What is andragogy?

Andragogy is ‘… the art and science of helping adults learn’.

Malcolm Knowles – a theorist in adult education describes andragogy (adult learning) as being premised on the following characteristics:

The need to know

Young adults want to know why they need to learn something. They may ask: ‘Why do I need to know this? or ‘Why is this important?’ Young adults want to understand the value. They want their learning experiences to:

  • meet their needs
  • be relevant
  • help them achieve their goals.

Learner’s self-concept

Young adult learners want respect and to be seen as capable learners. They should be offered choice and be encouraged to set their own learning goals. Young adult learners:

  • are self-motivated and self-directed
  • are independent
  • like to find their own way
  • can make their own decisions
  • want to manage their own learning.

Self-directed learning is one of the important parts of andragogy.

Role of the learner’s experience

Young adult learners are a valuable resource because they bring the richness and diversity of their lives with them. They should be given the opportunity to use their existing knowledge and experience, which they can apply to new learning experiences. Young adult learners:

  • have diverse experience and knowledge
  • may have ingrained ideas about things
  • apply their life experience and knowledge to new learning
  • use their problem-solving, reflecting and reasoning skills.

Readiness to learn

Young adults are ready to learn when they identify something they want to know or become proficient at, or when they experience something that connects with their life situations. They become ready to learn things in order to cope effectively with real-life situations. Young adult learners:

  • are goal focused
  • want timely learning
  • seek meaningful learning experiences
  • need clear learning goals.

Orientation to learning

Young adult learners want to be engaged in life-centred or problem-centred learning experiences. They want to learn what will help them perform tasks or deal with problems they see in their lives now. Young adult learners:

  • are practical – their learning should apply to their lives, job, etc.
  • want to be involved in planning their learning
  • focus on the aspects that are most useful to them.


Young adults are responsive to external motivators such as a better job or increased salary. However, the best motivators are internal; for example:

  • heightened self-esteem
  • better quality of life
  • personal growth and development.

Motivation can be diminished by learning experiences that do not embrace young adult learning principles.