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“The andragogical model is a process model, in contrast to the content models employed by most traditional educators. The difference is this: in traditional education the instructor (teacher or trainer or curriculum committee) decides in advance what knowledge or skill needs to be transmitted, arranges this body of content into logical units, selects the most efficient means for transmitting this content (lectures, readings, laboratory exercises, films, tapes, etc.), and then develops a plan for presenting these content units in some sort of sequence. This is a content model (or design). The andragogical instructor… prepares in advance a set of procedures for involving the learners [in the elements listed below]” (The Adult Learner, Knowles, Holton, Swanson , 2015, p. 51).

Your Description of Andragogy

Andagogy is an approach to adults’ learning as opposed to children’s learning (pedagogy). While children’s education necessitates curriculum, strict guidance of the teacher, classrooms, exams, finals etc, the most important factors for adults are their motivation to learn, access to interesting information and active participation in discussions with the ability to apply personal experience. The particular importance is given to the learning atmosphere and the learners’ freedom to choose training sessions according to their personal goals. Andragogy theory for adult learning developed by Knowles is widely applicable for training development of staff in business organizations, and is based on an employee’s motivation to acquire new skills and knowledge to perform a job effectively (Knowles, Holton & Swanson, 2005).

Interview Questions

How might you employ the principles of andragogy to the following areas?

  • Preparing the learner:

A learner needs to be motivated to attend the training sessions. It is usually achieved by an employee’s comprehension how the training can add new skills needed to perform the job tasks effectively and benefit the career development. HR profession engages actively an employee to develop a training plan that will best meet the training needs. Before the training session, an employee is informed about its content, schedule, and learning outcomes. The trainer provides learners with the training agenda, working materials (i.e. case studies, questions for participants on the training topic to establish atmosphere of open communication and engagement, other materials), and closing questionnaires for learner’s feedback on the training.

  • Establishing a climate conducive to learning:

A learning atmosphere of participant’s active contribution and engagement plays an important role for effectiveness of the training session. Physical surrounding of a training room should be carefully considered to meet the training objectives. For example, the training on Project Management necessitates such things as a projector, a laptop, a whiteboard and markers, a flipchart; the trainer has to make sure that all participants can see and hear clearly without being distracted by noise, unnecessary furniture or other people. The light, size of the room, location, etc., all need to be considered. It is crucial to set up a working atmosphere from the very beginning of the session: the trainer informs briefly on the training program and engages all participants in speaking about what they aim to achieve with this training.

  • Diagnosing the needs for learning:

To prepare an employee for a learning session, HR professional, firstly, needs to identify the training gap. HR engages an employee and a line manager to discuss what knowledge areas to cover. This can be done by conducting a job analysis with the help of a particular form aligning skills and knowledge needed for the job with those the person already has to see where the training is needed at most.

  • Formulating program objectives/content:

It is important to set clear training goals (learning outcomes) that a learner needs to achieve and align them with the company’s goals. Thus, the HR professional, with the contribution of the employee and the line manager, develops a program /content that meets training objectives of the learner. HR professional should also consider the participant’s learning style and if he/she obtains enough knowledge to have the training or may need additional information before the training.

  • Designing a pattern of learning experiences:

After the recognition of the corporate goals, learners’ training needs, setting training objectives, outlining training content and deciding on the number of participants, the trainer prepares a written training plan with the detailed description of the training content and activities, clear training objectives, and quizzes and assessments.

  • Conducting those learning experiences with suitable techniques and materials:

In order to achieve a successful learning outcome, the trainer may employ various techniques. A lecture is a one-way communication of the material to the audience. Simulation and role-play are employed, when trainees participate in a simulated situation from the work environment to find best solution while the trainer facilitates the process. Audiovisual methods, with the software (for example, PowerPoint) and hardware, are best way to prove the trainer’s information by working example. Self-directed learning allows an employee to find the best way and time to dedicate to learning while the trainer coaches an employee (usually accessed via corporate website to the needed material).

  • Evaluating the learning outcomes and re-diagnosing learning needs:

To evaluate the learning outcome, the HR professional distributes evaluation forms (i.e. questionnaires) at the end of the training session. Each trainee gives feedback for the usefulness of the training, engaging material and areas for improvement. After some period of time (usually one month) participants are sent follow-up evaluation forms (usually by email) to assess how they could apply acquired knowledge and skills. Upon their feedback, the HR professional can re-design the training program or set up additional training meetings.

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