There is a big difference between how adults and children learn and how information is processed. Andragogy is the art and science of how adults learn. Malcolm Knowles was an educational scholar that researched and wrote books on how adults learn and process information. Knowles came to the conclusion that there are four basic assumptions of adult learning. Knowles also stated that adults are self-directed learners.
Knowles advised, we should assume that adults have a psychological need to be self-directing. Also, adults bring experiences that can contribute to the learning process. Also, adults are motivated to learn by the need to solve real life-problems. Most of the time, these problems are related to adult developmental tasks. Next, adults are also performance centered. When they learn something, they want to use that knowledge immediately.
Self-directed learners are motivated to learn. Motivation could be the need to improve ones self-esteem. It could be the desire to achieve or the need to grow. Also, the motivation could be satisfaction of accomplishment, the need to know something specific or curiosity.
Self-directing learning occurs more among adult learners. This is because they have experience and life many times have motivated them to learn. They have something to contribute to the learning process. Adult learners often have the ability to set goals. Also, they are goal oriented and mature enough to handle problem solving.
However, self-directed learners and adults should strive to acquire a mature understanding of who they are in life. They should understand their needs, interests, capacities, and goals. Also, adults should develop an attitude of acceptance, love, and respect toward others. Furthermore, self-directed learners should develop a dynamic attitude toward life.
Adults will always be engaged in some form of self-directed learning. A large percentage of our learning is informal learning. Many times informal learning occurs just through living, events and experiences. Examples of this would be a person learning how to do plumbing around the house or work on his or her car. Even raising a child or caring for a home is self-directed learning. Also, we are required to be involved in self-directed learning just to improve ourselves on the job. Because things in society change at such a rapid pace and man is always seeking personal growth, self-directed learning will always be concept we study and ponder over.