Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Incremental Andragogy

The principles of andragogy, covered well by the writers over at Open Education dotnet are important to keep in mind, even when running a teacher-centered or content-centered lesson plan.

My experience at work lately has been increased misunderstanding among students of the importance of CIL (Computer & Information Literacy) in their university careers. They don't see the point, so they are immediately disengaged from any learning, treating the tests we give as hoops to jump through rather than a learning opportunity. Thus, they become very frustrated when they can't pass the tests right away, since they're trying to pass the tests without learning anything. A key principle of andragogy is understanding why the things they're learning is relevant to them. Another principle is that you can learn from mistakes. They don't want to make mistakes, and they don't want to learn anything. When I sit down and explain to someone the purpose of the tests and how it can help them, they usually understand and turn around their attitude.

Even though the content we cover is pretty set and they don't have much if any control over what they need to learn, it's still helpful to understand the reasoning behind it.

One of the comments on the above-linked article points out that it may not work to open up the classroom, since almost all kids go to school now instead of just the academically inclined ones, as it used to be when this approach was developed. I think the principles of andragogy are even more important for students that aren't academically inclined. The so-called smart kids will learn no matter what epistemology is practiced by their teachers. Maybe if the students who have a harder time in school were helped to understand why they need to learn things and how what they learn fits in with their existing knowledge, they would be more motivated.

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