October 22, 2020

What is Andragogy?

Andragogy looks at the education of adults and focuses on the diversity between an adult learner and a younger learner.

The main author Knowles, defines six assumptions related to adult learning:

  1. Need to know: Adults need to know the reason for learning something.
  2. Foundation: Experience (including error) provides the basis for learning activities.
  3. Self-concept: Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education.
  4. Readiness: Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work.
  5. Orientation: Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.
  6. Motivation: Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators.

Below an infographic of Andragogy.

How I use Andragogy in UX

I am currently involved in a project on increasing hand washing practices in the African context with an App. One part of my work is focussed on teaching when to wash hands and how to wash hands to users with a high rate of illiteracy. However, the learners develop a great chunk of knowledge when practicing hand-washing and creating hand-washing station. The knowledge created is part of what we call "informal learning".

The aim of the app is to collect all the informal learning and create a learning community around hand washing practices.

In the three steps, I describe the learner development stages.

  • In the first step, the learner absorbs the basic learning of hand hygiene. Aim to reduce the knowledge gap on hand washing hygiene.
  • In the second step, the learner gather and share information on defined topic. Aim to understand what informal learning is related to hand washing hygiene.
  • In the third step, the learners create a learning community in which new topic are created by the learner themselves. Aim to share and collaborate on the topic of hand-washing practices.

In step 3

The learner is given a series of assignment which are highly contextual (i.e. define three areas in your community to build HW stations and consider all the factors to make the HW stations effective) explaining the final purpose of the app. The goal is to create an autonomous learning community that can make a tangible impact by spreading knowledge and involving others in making HW stations.

The app takes into consideration the diversity of learners but uses it as an engine to create more fitting knowledge for every context. Most likely, learners with diverse backgrounds will be able to spot and identify new insights for others. A mother of two youngsters might be able to find diverse issues and solutions than a farmer dealing with 10 employees.Step 3 utilises the principle of Andragogy to identify informal learning to increase knowledge and awareness of hand-washing practices.



Gutierrez, K,. (2018).  Adult Learning Theory. Retrieved from

Pappas, C., (2013). The Adult Learning Theory. Retrieved from

Smith, M. K. (2002) ‘Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and andragogy’, The encyclopedia of pedagogy and informal education,