Today, pedagogy refers to the theories and methods used in teaching. However, in the past, pedagogy referred specifically to the methods used to educate children. Andragogy was coined to focus on the practices used to teach adults.

Comparison chart

Andragogy versus Pedagogy comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartAndragogyPedagogy
Definition The methods and practices used in teaching adults. The methods and practices used in teaching, especially of children.
Focus On independent, self-directed, and/or cooperative learning among adults. On a teacher's methods of transferring knowledge to a student, who is dependent on the teacher's methods and understanding.
Authority Adults have control over much of their learning experience and must be motivated to learn. Can often seek out new or different learning experience, at will. Teacher controls the learning experience for children, and much of what is taught is based on rigid curricula.
Importance of Grades May be very low High

Teaching Focus

In the traditional sense of the word, pedagogy is authority-focused, "top-down," in that a teacher has complete or nearly complete control over a child's learning experience. The teaching methods employed in pedagogy are very much about transferring foundational knowledge, not about critical discourse. It is a formal process, and usually grades are involved as a means of documenting children's progress.

Meanwhile, andragogy is focused on the learning experience of adults and which methods work best in adult education. It is much more self-directed, in that adults must often set their own schedules for learning and be motivated to commit to study or practice. Adult education is also often cooperative, in that adults tend to work together and review each other's work and understanding of a subject. In many adult education courses — for example, a cooking or art class — learning is somewhat informal, and grades may not be important or may be absent altogether.

Pedagogy and Andragogy Origins

The word "pedagogy" is much older than the word "andragogy." Pedagogy, as a word, first appeared in the mid- to late-1500s, in Middle French, and has roots in Latin and Greek. It literally meant "to guide or teach a child."[1] Today, it often simply refers to the art of teaching.[2]

Andragogy, which refers to "methods or techniques used to teach adults," is a newer word that was coined in the 1800s by Alexander Knapp, a German educator, and popularized in the 1960s by Malcolm Knowles, an American educator whose focus was on adult education.


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"Andragogy vs Pedagogy." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 7 Feb 2021. < >