Toward a Thorough Understanding of the International Foundation of Andragogy in HRD and Adult Education

John Henschke, Lindenwood University


More than 160 major works published in English from national and international sources on andragogy are presented here, in order to provide an clear and understandable, international foundation fr the linkage between the research, theory and practice of andragogy and its application to Adult Education and Human Resources Development. Six themes have emerged that provide a foundation for the linkage: The evolution of the term: historical antecedents shaping the concept; comparison of American and European understanding; popularizing of the American concept; practical applications; and theory, research, and definition. Andragogy has been used by some as a code word for identifying the education and learning of adults. For others, it has been used to designate different strategies and methods that are used in helping adults learn. Still others use the term to suggest the theory that guides the scope of both research and practice on how adults learn, how they need to be taught, and elements to be considered when adults learn in various situations and contexts. Yet, some still think of andragogy as a set of mechanical tools and techniques for teaching adults. For another group andragogy implies a scientific discipline that examines dimensions and processes of anything that would bring people to their full degree of humaneness. Nadler (1989) stated that Human Resource Development (HRD) is based in learning, and every HRD practitioner should have an understanding of the theories of Adult Learning. There is a broad spectrum reflected in the practice of andragogy, and the extensive literature publication over a long period of time on andragogy (some of which will be introduced and discussed in this paper), opens the door for the theoretical framework of this study to be focused on andragogy.