Andragogy is the skills and techniques of adult learning as defined by Malcolm Knowles. The theory postulates that adults are self-directed and ready to learn. Knowles theory is based on five assumptions. Firstly, self concept, which states that due to maturity adults move towards self-direction from a dependent individual. Secondly, adult learner experience, this states that as adults grow, they accumulate a wide range of experiences which become a basic source of learning. Thirdly, readiness to learn, this states as adults mature, they become more oriented to developmental tasks. Fourthly, orientation to learning, this states as people mature they become less procrastinating towards learning to more immediacy. Lastly, motivation to learn, as a person matures the motivation to learn becomes internal (Knowles, 1984).
Constructivism is closely related as an adult learning model as it is based on observation and scientific study. Constructivism can be explained as experiences shaping how people perceive and understand the world (Glasersfeld, 1987). It encourages learners to use active techniques such as experiments and problem solving. Learners are supposed to constantly question themselves and their strategies in order to become expert learners. Behaviorism, on the other hand, deals with external traits or behaviors that are observable contrary to internal behaviors such as thinking which are difficult to measure. It is the most convenient way of measuring mental and psychological processes (Bouton, 1997). Behaviorism believes that learners are born with a blank mind (tabula rasa) and through social interactions and surrounding environment, they acquire their behavior.
A comprehensive theory should be adopted to bridge the gap that exists in adult learning theories. This theory should find a link between pedagogy (children learning) and Andragogy (adult learning). In order to better understand adult learning then it is good to trace the roots, which is childhood and develop the process systematically for better comprehension. This theory should combine relevant cognitive theories such as Piaget’s and show a transition to adulthood. This theory is meant to target the middle age learners who are transiting from childhood to adulthood. An infant’s learning development and history is imperative in determining and influencing his/her adulthood learning. This break between the two age brackets has lead to inconsistencies in trying to understand adult learning. Different individuals have had different cognitive development processes due to the environment, social interactions, and economic status.
According to Albert Bandura in his social learning theory, he states that for an individual to obtain a certain behavior then there should be direct reinforcements. These reinforcements are in the form of punishment and rewards. Adults learning and behaviors can be effectively carried out by issuing rewards, but when it comes to punishment, this does not go down well with them. Adults have a lot of ego compare to infants, and for this reasons, infants can learn through punishments without resistance. Infants can carry these lessons to adulthood which are rather hard to teach at this age. According to the classical conditioning theory by Ivan Pavlov, a stimulus has the ability to evoke a response that has originally been evoked by another stimulus. The best stimulus to evoke a response in adult learning is one from cognitive development. According to scholars, infants are sincere and naïve beings that are easily take information as it is, and according to behaviorism theory, human beings are born with a blank mind. This theory will help learners to have a smooth transition from cognitive learning to adulthood learning. Separating adult learning with childhood learning is catastrophic in development of learning theories.
The future path of adult learning endeavors in improving and implementing key components of effective programs (Langer, 2011), this will enhance excellence and provide quality programs in supporting adult learning, and this will also expand and transform existing programs. The previously suggested theory will help enhance adult learning and making it more effective by developing a chronological process of learning which starts with cognitive development all the way to adult learning. Other existing theories, such as humanism (which is of the view that learning is a personal act that exists towards self actualization), can help adults to reach their full potential by starting to realize their potential at a tender age so that they can self actualize. As stated by Lev Vygotsky, in his theory of social development, behavior is greatly influenced by social interactions which lead to consciousness and cognition. Social interactions start in childhood and adults develop behaviors they acquired in their childhood social interactions.
In designing an adult theory, one inclusive theory is not sufficient to meet the needs of adult learners within the global village. People are from different social background and hold different believes, therefore, it would be difficult to integrate these beliefs into one inclusive theory, mores using situational analysis; there is no one best way of solving a specific problem, and it will require diverse ideas from different psychologists to develop diverse theories of the same subject matter.