Andragogy: learning at an advanced age

Although learning is traditionally associated with childhood, adolescence and youth, the truth is that human beings have the capacity to learn throughout their lives.

In this article we will see what the Andragogy, The discipline that is responsible for researching how learning occurs in old age.

    The change in concept of aging

    The term aging was, early in history, linked to a connotation of deterioration and inability to effectively perform the different roles that are usually assigned to earlier stages of the life cycle. Thus, from Antiquity to the last century, of aging individuals have been isolated, abandoned or looked down upon. This very traditional trend stems from the short life expectancy that has accompanied the human species over the centuries.

    In recent decades, with the onset and development of the industrial revolution and capitalism as an economic and social system, this nature has been significantly altered and a life expectancy of around 80 years is established. -85 years in Spain.

    A change of mentality

    Advances in medicine, technology, And a greater globalization of knowledge derived from scientific research, as well as the development of the welfare state through political systems, have contributed to offering a better quality of life in terms of the type of work performed (less physical), reduction in hours corresponding to the working day, knowledge and application of healthy lifestyles, etc.

    Currently, therefore, since the beginning of the vital phase known as old age (around 60 years old) the individual has a long life ahead of him, Which begins to move away from the old conception as a period of loss of faculties and of inability to replace it with another more optimistic name where the subject can learn new things, play new roles and live new experiences equally satisfying personal benefits and benefits.

    In this regard, a recent classification on the definition of the vital stage of old age stands out in this new conception. So currently it is necessary to take into account not only the chronological ageBut they must also take into account: social age (taking roles), functional (adaptation to historical and cultural changes), psychological (adaptation to different personal circumstances) and biological (capacity of the Indian’s biological organism) .

      What is andragogy?

      Andragogy is defined as the discipline which studies the field of education in the adult individual, that is to say the particularities of its development. learn in adulthood, maturity and old age.

      The establishment of this branch of pedagogy as its own field of study rests on a series of characteristics which differentiate it from other similar sciences. More specifically, the central assumptions aim to highlight the distinction between the recipient of a particular discipline. Thus, the pupil or adult learner has an autonomy, a capacity for reflection, a level of previous experiences much higher than those given in childhood and youth.

      Between the premises on which Andragogía focuses, they differ mainly: the fact present a personal and self-directed conception of learning, The influence of previous experience on the hypothesis of new learning and vice versa, a focus on learning applied to specific everyday situations, as well as defined with a real purpose and providing a very significant intrinsic motivation and determinant.

        Applications of andragogy

        The most relevant applications of this discipline are:

        • Stimulate the interest of learners insofar as the contents are linked to the resolution of real problems; the objective does not focus on memorizing abstract and theoretical concepts.
        • The invitation to reflection through a methodology based on open questions that facilitates the effective realization of the process of self-assessment of this learning.
        • The promotion of a more collective, cooperative and participatory way of working.

        Theoretical bases of the andragógico mode of teaching

        The main components of the model of education mndragógico in adults focus on the following topics:

        1. It is defined as a non-face-to-face and inclusive education system in which it is taken into account that each learner has specific vital peculiarities, objectives which can be very different both in terms of personal development and professional development.
        2. is adapted to the social needs of adults, Where the level of previously acquired ability, experience and learning is respected, so that a methodology is required which takes into account the existence of different learning styles.
        3. the meet the needs related to social progress in terms of innovation, knowledge and imagination;
        4. It is a phenomenon which it can extend over the entire lifespan covering different stages and periods of an individual’s life.
        5. is understood the figure of the educator as guide and advisor, Which offers their support and facilitates the learning process in a more collaborative way and not so much pedagogical or behavioral.

        Determinants in adult learning

        Factors That Determine How Adult Learning Happens they can be derived from external or environmental aspects and from internal or personal aspects. In the first group, the type of vital circumstances surrounding the individual learner can be highlighted, such as the type of objectives stated in this instruction (whether they refer to a personal or professional objective), and the means available. . the level of logistics, time / schedules, etc., to invest in the process or other factors related to the social context in which it is recorded.

        Personal factors include level of ability, competence and aptitude to learn, motivation and interest in content, level of tolerance for failure, emotional stability to combat concerns and uncertainties about results obtained., Cognitive skills such as attention, memory, language, concentration, etc., or the existence of adaptive behavioral habits, among others.

        Learn in old age

        As mentioned above, the adult learner has inherent characteristics that differentiate him from the younger ones. Therefore, it becomes essential not to lose sight of the need to adopt learning styles and methods adapted to the characteristics or peculiarities of each of the different profiles of adult learners.

        So some can be given differentiations in terms of cognitive, physiological and / or affective traitss which determine how they react to the content worked on during the learning process. According to the latter phenomenon, there are three dimensions to the types of learning attributed to adult education: active-reflexive, visual-verbal theoretical and pragmatic-global.

        Regarding the defining characteristics of adult learning methodologies it is necessary to underline the strong participation in class, A greater relationship with the context of interaction and its particular problems or situations, learning is more oriented towards the task and the practical application of the internalized contents, the work carried out therefore has an interdisciplinary character and there is a more great possibility of generalization of the learnings worked.

        On another side, an essential aspect is the autonomy with which each student works in relation to the learning achieved. Each individual regulates and organizes himself in terms of tasks, time spent, layout of the study program, etc., thus only in his / her own assessment of how he / she is achieving this learning. We therefore speak of self-planning, self-regulation and self-evaluation of learning.


        As we can see, andragogy has a paradigm shift in the form of designing learning as a phenomenon intrinsically linked to childhood and youth. It is necessary to analyze and establish the differences between one type of student and another in order to adapt the methodology and the type of content to ensure that this learning can take place from the early years to the last vital stages.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Dorfman, LT et al. (2002). Integration of intergenerational service learning into an introductory gerontology course. In Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 39 (1/2), pages 219-240. New York: Published by The Haworth Press.
        • Fernández-Ballesteros, R. and others. (1999). What is the psychology of old age? Spain: Biblioteca Nova.
        • García Mínguez, J. and Sánchez García, A. (1998). A model of education for the elderly: interactivity, Madrid: Dykinson.
        • Orosa Fraiz, T. (2001). The elderly and the family. A look from the old adult, Havana: Editorial Félix Varela.

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