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Education Fellowships

Developing teaching and learning: understanding pedagogy, andragogy and heutagogy

28 November 2022
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Education is filled with a range of abstract terms that often get used in discussion, government policy and institutional aims. But, what actually do these terms mean and how might understanding these a little more support your teaching?

Let’s start with pedagogy. Pedagogy broadly relates to the theory, method and philosophy of teaching. A contemporary view of pedagogy can be understood as a term that explains the relationships and “interactions between teachers, students and the learning environment and the learning tasks.” (Murphy, 2008. p 35, cited in Shah, 2021 p7). Pedagogy is a term derived from the Greek word ‘paidagōgeō’ in which means ‘to lead the child’ (Shah, 2021). However, this term has been used more broadly in European countries and became very popular during the 20th century when there was an increased emphasis on the science of learning and what this means for teachers.  Pedagogy supports learning processes which are framed from two broad categories that are either student-centred or teacher-centred.

In higher education, student-centred pedagogies are often used to support student self-regulation and reflection as students learn to transition from being told what to learn, to developing an understanding of what to learn as a self-directed learner. This is understood as a process of shifting from pedagogic to andragogic learning. Andragogy (defined by Knowles) became popular in the 1970s and refers to facilitating learning for adults who are expected to be more self-directed and autonomous in their learning (Blaschke, 2019). This idea has since been developed further as the learning landscape dramatically changed with developing technology and expanded to include ‘heutagogy’. Heutagogy refers to the practice of self-determined learning that focuses on knowing how to learn (Blaschke, 2019; advanceHE, 2017), which has been recognised as a key skill for 21st century learning. This process supports students to develop their own learning skills and to regulate their own learning. It goes beyond self-direction and focuses more on self-determination which means that the teacher facilitates learning but the learner takes responsibility for their own learning. This might be through setting their own learning goals, choosing what they want to learn, and having more agency in choosing the most suitable method of learning for them (Blaschke 2019; advanceHE, 2017).

It is important to note the progressive shift and understanding of student-agency in contemporary learning as higher education develops and supports students to become life-long learners, making informed choices and purposefully taking responsibility for their own academic development.

How can you ensure that you are supporting this shift in learning for students? Consider including opportunities for students to learn through exploration, creation, reflection, connection, assessment, and sharing. Build tasks that use these ideas into your sessions and support student self-regulation through encouraging metacognitive questioning and assessments.


AdvanceHE (2017) ‘National Teaching Fellow 2017: heutagogy’. AdvanceHE [online]. Available from: heutagogy | Advance HE ( [Accessed 17/10/22]

Blaschke, L.M. (2019). ‘The Pedagogy–Andragogy–Heutagogy Continuum and Technology-Supported Personal Learning Environments’. In: Jung, I. (eds) Open and Distance Education Theory Revisited. Springer Briefs in Education(). Springer, Singapore. Available from:  [Accessed on 16/10/22]

Shah, K., R., (2021) ’Conceptualizing and Defining Pedagogy’. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education (IOSR-JRME) e-ISSN: 2320–7388, p- ISSN: 2320-737x Volume 11, Issue 1 . Available from: [Accessed 11/10/22]