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HomeeducationHeutagogy, a student-centred teaching strategy

Heutagogy, a student-centred teaching strategy

In online education, pedagogy takes care of what is to be learnt and how, it is determined and directed by the teacher. In andragogy, it is determined by the teacher and directed by the learner. However, in heutagogy, there will be determination and a direction shift towards the learner.

The term ‘heutagogy’ was coined by Stewart Hase of Southern Cross University and Chris Kenyon in Australia. Initiallyused by Alexander Kapp, a German educator, in 1833, andragogy was developed into a theory by American Educator Malcolm Knowles. Andragogy refers to the methods or techniques used to teach adults. Knowles asserted that andragogy (Greek: man-led) should be distinguished from the more commonly used Pedagogy (child-led).

Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning. The notion is an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy, and it is possible to mistake it for the same—however, several differences between the two mark one from the other.

Heutagogy emphasises learning how to learn, double-loop learning, universal learning opportunities, a non-linear process, and true learner self-direction. So, for example, whereas andragogy focuses on the best ways for people to learn, heutagogy requires that educational initiatives include people improving actual learning skills on their own.

Similarly, whereas andragogy focuses on structured education, in heutagogy, all learning contexts, both formal and informal, are considered. In heutagogy, the mentor helps with the modification of existing knowledge and the creation of new knowledge through online education.

In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined, and the emphasis is placed on developing learner capacity and capability to produce learners who are well-prepared for the complexities of the contemporary workplace.

The capacity building of individuals is possible through the Heutagogic process, especially in online education. Capable people know how to learn, are creative, have high self-efficacy, can apply competencies in novel and familiar situations and can work well with others.

According to Malcolm Knowles, self-directed learning is a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.

A heutagogical approach recognises the need to be flexible in learning where the teacherprovides resources. Still, thelearner designs the actual courseby negotiating the knowledgethrough an online approach. Thus, learners might read around critical issues or questions, determine what is of interest and relevance to them, and then take up further reading and assessment tasks. Thus, assessment becomes more of a learning experience than a means to measure attainment. As teachers, we should prioritise developing the learner’s capability, not just enforcing discipline-based skills and knowledge.

In the context of online education, Heutagogy is appropriate to the needs of learners in the twenty-first century, particularly in developing individual capability. Therefore, a shift in thinking towards heutagogy will enable learning control to move more appropriately to the learner. Furthermore, it will allow a far more creative approach to learning on the part of learners.

(The author is a former faculty of the Regional Institute of Education, NCERT, Mysuru)

(Published 13 November 2023, 22:13 IST)

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