Human resource development. Andragogy in present day organisations

Essay, 2017
9 Pages
Edith Endale (Author)



The level of technological advancements and global growth experienced by organisations in recent years have come along with challenges that organisations have to face if they must be successful and survive in the world‘s most dynamic and turbulent business environment. To be able to cope in such an environment, organisations are looking forward to upgrade the skills, knowledge, experiences and competences of their employees through learning and development to complement the changes that are constantly being introduced into the organisation as result of external forces from the outside and business world. Learning instituted by change is a very crucial issue nowadays as far as organisational success is concerned. It is so central to organisational success and performance that no organisation can choose whether to educate or develop its employees. An organisation’s human resources are its most dynamic assets as a result; staff learning and development should be the first priority in every organisation as no organisation can do without it.

Managing and accommodating change whenever it occurs is a skill that can not be ignored as change does not occur in isolation; it is always accompanied by more or new responsibilities. Thus, for employees to be effective in handling their new responsibilities brought about by change, it is very vital for those employees to be educated in a way that would suit their objectives, needs, interests and levels.

This paper analyses a brief case study of a learning and development intervention of justices’ clerks and demonstrates critically how the theory of Andragogy, Adult learning, was applicable during the programme and how it accounts for the success recorded at the end of the learning and development intervention.

Theoretical discussion

To explore the theory of learning best suited for adults, learning as a concept has to be understood. According to Bass and Vaughan (1966) cited in Reid, Barrington and Brown (2004, p. 49), learning is “a relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a result of practice or experience” .This section will be analysing the Theory of Andragogy which is fundamental to the discussion of this paper.

Andragogy is the term used to describe adult learning. The term was first used by a German teacher called Alexander Kapp in 1833. He was the first to differentiate between pedagogy, which means the teaching/learning of children and andragogy, the learning of adult (Dover, K., No Date)

Malcolm Knowles later on expanded the term into the following assumptions:

· Adults are autonomous and self-directed: This is based on the idea that adults should be in charge of and direct themselves to their own learning process. The learner does not like when anyone interferes with this. Therefore anyone who prevents the learner from being self-directing and autonomous during his learning process, is most likely to stir up conflict, resistance, resentment and in some cases conflict (Knowles et al, 2005).They can be assisted and guided by a facilitator rather than an instructor who will supply them with every bit of information. This is because adults learn differently from children with the latter requiring an instructor to inform them on what to do and what to be learnt. What adults are to be taught should tie to their interests, thus learning will be effective only when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests and goals of the learner. On the other hand, children do not have a choice yet as to what to be taught and such an instance is what is referred to as pedagogy. In this situation, children have no voice; their instructors determine how and when the learning material is delivered. The learner in such a situation is believed to have little or nothing to offer during learning. Dirello, A. and Vaast, K. (2003)

- Adults have a pool of experiences: This assumption holds that adults have a reservoir of experiences which makes it possible for them to offer much to the learning environment as they have additional knowledge and resource for learning than children. These experiences come as a result of their contact with the world at large as they grow into maturity. At this point of maturity, the adult has too many experiences, the learning processes are changed from lectures to focus group discussions, simulations and team projects as the adult makes use of his experience as a resource for learning. (Knowles et al, 2005)

- Adults have a readiness to learn: As a result of the developmental phases adults approach during maturity they have a dire need to learn to cope with social issues and handle relations with their spouses, colleagues, friends and family. Thus the urge and readiness to learn comes in a bit to solve problems at any point in their lives and to relate well with others.(Knowles et al, 2005)

- Adults have a different orientation to learning: Adults are oriented towards life, task and problem in their approach to learning. In other words adults will be interested to learn a field which is relevant to a task yet to be performed, their life and problem solving. (Dover, K., No Date). This is strongly contrasted to the learning of the child which is subject-oriented. (Knowles et al, 2005).

It is worthy to note that the assumptions all apply to the learner. Hence it is also important to look at the other party involved in the learning and development process. The role of the facilitator will be to pass on the information and other resources for the learner to take upon himself the learning process. The role of the facilitator will involve:

1- Anticipating learning needs with the learner and laying down the objectives of the learning programme according to the learner’s needs and interests.

2- Creating a friendly and mutual atmosphere whereby the learner will be respected as a result of the wealth of experience he has.

3- Organising learning strategies such as role plays, focus group discussions, team projects, simulations, presentations and case studies to enable learners to gain and share their experiences.

4- Giving feedback on how the learner performs as well as providing support and follow-up in those areas where the learner needs assistance. (Speck 1996)

5- Encouraging and nurturing the adult into using his initiatives and helping the learner to become proactive rather than reactive in his learning environment.(Brookfield, 1986)

Despite its popularity, Andragogy has been criticised by many scholars on the grounds that it is not clear whether Andragogy is a theory or a set of assumptions (Hartree, 1984). Some other scholars are of the belief that Andragogy is misleading from the outset Collins, 1998. (Anderchek 2005.)

Presentation of Case Study

The Magistrates court Service is a local service run by 105 magistrates’ committees. This local service is 80% funded by the Home Office and 20% by the local authority. The way in which the local magistrates’ courts’ committees carryout their duties vary from one committee to another. For instance, the Justices’ Clerks are independent, their responsibilities range from providing legal advice to lay magistrates during a court hearing, dealing with the administration of the court as well as training magistrates. Moreover Justices have excellent verbal skills which qualify them to solicitors or barristers. Nevertheless, Justices are found to be lacking in analytic and numerical skills.

However, following close investigation of Magistrates courts service, a number of changes were proposed which were published in the White Paper in February 1992. The proposals included the transfer of the Magistrates Court Service to the Lord Chancellor’s Department, and a reduction of Magistrates’ Courts’ Committees. The restructuring of the organisational structures and functions of Magistrates Courts Service created and increased lots of responsibilities which strengthened the managerial culture within the service.

In view of this, a new Senior Management development Programme comprising a number of modules for Justices Clerks and other senior staff members was designed by Ashridge Consulting Group. The aim of the programme was to empower justices and other staff for their new responsibilities especially in the domain of managerial skills.

A six-month programme was set up of which Justices Clerks attended a series of short modules to give them an insight into their own personal strengths and weaknesses. The First module was an assessment workshop to identify the preferred learning styles and needs of participants. The second module was based on a business simulation which focused on the prime responsibilities of Justices Clerks in the area of resource management. This was out to help them manage numerical data when faced with a situation to manage an organisation. The third and fourth module handled service, quality issues and constraints and cooperation respectively. While the fifth opened up opportunities for future training and development.

The use of adult learning during this programme enabled the participants to gain new insight into the importance of analysing and using data for decision making which was difficult for them before the programme began.


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Human resource development. Andragogy in present day organisations
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