So you’ve carried out your capability analysis, aligned your learning with your business outcomes and you’re ready to design your learning, but you know your current e-learning may not be cutting it. Low learner engagement is still a big challenge for L&D teams. It may present as low completion rates, low use of digital resources or learners simply not taking the time to engage at all. To figure out what you can do about it, it’s worth taking a step back to consider, well, how do adults actually learn?


What is Andragogy?

Andragogy is the science of adult learning, and dates back to the early 1800’s, with some scholars arguing that adult education institutions existed several hundreds of years before schools for children were established. It is a student-centered approach, based on six main principles as can be seen in the infographic below.


Recent studies have built on andragogical principles and developed theories such as heutagogy, which recommends even more flexible curriculums to encourage self-determination through learning.

What does it mean for learning design?

Whatever the name, the principles are the same. Learning design for adults should include clear rationales that the learner connects with. It should provide choice driven, adaptable learning that is relevant to specific contexts. We must develop our adult learners to be self-directed and intrinsically motivated to learn. There can be large barriers to adult learning due to previous experiences establishing strong neural pathways geared towards particular ideas. Therefore, learning design must be clever in how it challenges the adult learner, by using emotion and connecting learning to their experience and drivers. We must encourage them to adopt a growth mindset to really challenge their perceptions and build new foundational knowledge.

Where do Serious Games come into it?

Coming back to the cognitive neuroscience research, it is suggested that for andragogical principles to be applied effectively, various brain functions must be activated through the learning experience. Educational serious games embrace and encourage human emotion within a self-directed yet complex learning environment. They involve multiple facets of cognitive, affective, social, cultural and motivational behaviour  and embed the key andragogic principles of adaptability, engagement, motivation and a risk-free environment to fail and learn from. They can support and challenge learners to meaningfully consider new perspectives and support neuroplasticity.

What are we waiting for…let’s go?!

It all sounds great, so what now? There can be challenges in creating serious games for adult learners. These may be that you don’t have the technical stack, the manpower, the budget or the know-how to implement them, even if you really want to. This is where Wyda comes in. We have expert knowledge in learning design to empower our learners, the technical skills to back it up and the experience to coach learners into developing lifelong learning habits through the course of our business acumen game. We engage learners in real-world situations, challenge their perceptions by building empathy through problem-solving from a range of perspectives. Wait no more, and start your serious game journey today at

History of Andragogy

Andragogy has deep historical routes and is a term used in different ways, depending on the context. Henschke (1998) and Savicevic (2008) argue that as adult education institutions existed several hundreds of years before schools for children were established; andragogical thinking back can be traced back to Hellenistic and Jewish culture in ancient times.1 However, the first documented mentions of andragogy date back to 1833 in German high school teacher, Alexander Kapp’s book entitled ‘Platon’s Erziehungslehre’ (Plato’s Educational Ideas). Kapp argued that education, self-reflection, and educating the character are the first values in human life. Though his work was largely disputed until the 1920’s, where it was again picked up and posed as “the only method for German people”2 by Rosenstock-Huessy (1925). Around this time, Lindeman moved to America and brought andragogy as a concept with him. It wasn’t then until the 1960’s that Knowles first published his first iteration of andragogy as adult learning principles. The principles posited by Knowles (1986) have been researched, contested and refined over the decades to provide the basis for the current paradigm of andragogic principles we understand and apply today.



1. Svein Loeng | (2018) Various ways of understanding the concept of andragogy, Cogent Education, 5:1, 1496643, DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2018.1496643

2. Henschke, John A. EdD, “Beginnings of the History and Philosophy of Andragogy 1833-2000” (2009). IACE Hall of Fame Repository.

3. Malliarakis, C., Tomos, F., Shabalina, O., & Mozelius, P. (2018). Andragogy and E.M.O.T.I.O.N.: 7 Key Factors of Successful Serious Games. Academic Conferences International Limited.