Read about how one of my own learning experiences explains the theory of Andragogy.

Informal Learning Experience Reflections

Much of my adult life has been mixed with informal and formal learning experiences (I am renowned for being enrolled in one or two things at any given time) which means I really fit into that ‘lifelong learning’ category!

I tend to prefer informal learning experiences the most as I have full control over what is learned, how I learn and the timelines of learning. I can stop when I feel enough is enough or if life gets busy (like this week – I moved to a new house!!!).

I digress…

My informal learning experience that I reflected on was from 9 years ago when I moved to Papua New Guinea and found myself living in a compound with house cleaners, laundry washers and grounds keepers – needless to say, I was very bored! I also felt very uncomfortable having others’ do everything for me!

I decided to use the surplus of time I had to give back to the community. I volunteered at the local hospital as a Nurse Educator running face-to-face sessions on topics that they local nurses requested. While visiting, I noticed that many of the patients did not have bed sheets or blankets. I mentioned this to some other women living in my compound and we decided to knit blankets for them.

The problem?

I didn’t know how to knit. And so, my informal learning began!

Of all the women who agreed to knit, about half of them were experienced knitters. We organized regular meet ups (social element) where we would knit, and the more experienced knitters would help/encourage the less experienced knitters. In between these meet ups, I would watch tutorials on YouTube and then have a go (experiential) and if I still had no clue, I would search blog articles for written steps before going back to the experienced knitters to get their final word.

Knowles' Five Assumptions In Context

My experience can be broken down into Knowles’ five assumptions as follows:

  1. I was in complete control of what and how I learned (so much freedom! I loved it!) (Self-concept)
  2. The experience had a social element where up to 5 women would meet and knit together which the more experienced helping the less experienced trouble shoot. (Experience)
  3. I was ready to learn as it was relevant to what I wanted to achieve and my living circumstances allowed for as much time as I liked. (Readiness to learn)
  4. I had committed to helping the group of women make blankets for patients at the hospital that I volunteered at. I knew they desperately needed the blankets and I had the means to be able to learn and provide for this need. (Orientation to learn)
  5. I was highly motivated. The thought of making a difference appealed to me and directly impacted on my well being through the philanthropic pursuit. (Motivation to learn)

I should note that ‘The need to know’ was evident in that I knew I had a knowledge/skill gap but I wanted to contribute to the blanket donation anyway.

Why was this learning experience successful?

I was working in a team where we supported one another as we progressed. I also knew that if I didn’t meet my commitment, I would be letting the team down and I didn’t like the idea that there could be social repercussions for not meeting my commitment.


Field, M. (2019, November 13). The principles of Andragogy (Adult learning) and Work Based Training – A Perfect Match. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from

Pappas, C. (2020, April 15). The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

Pappas, C. (2020, April 30). Pedagogy Vs Andragogy In eLearning: Can You Tell The Difference? Retrieved October 21, 2020, from

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