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Term of the Week: Pedagogy

What is it?

The study and science of the development of learning.

Why is it important?

Pedagogy is used to describe the practices, mindsets, and processes related to learning, such as critical pedagogy and open pedagogy.

Pedagogy is sometimes used to describe how children learn in school. More broadly, it is used to describe prescribed learning content that is closely guided, as opposed to self-directed (andragogy) or self-defined (heutagogy).

When considering learning as a practice, pedagogy focuses on the ways in which people learn, focusing on the formative, or developing, practices of how people first learn how to learn.

Why does a business professional need to know this?

A business professional should have at least a basic understanding of what pedagogy is because it affects the learning strategy employed in their organization.

Pedagogy shows us how to help learners meet educational goals by using what we know about how people learn. By focusing on our audience first, we take a pedagogical approach that aligns the learner’s needs to the content and spaces we design for learning.

Traditionally, pedagogy, or pedagogical approaches, referred to teaching methods selected and applied to learning content. But pedagogy has evolved and expanded to use the results of research on how learners learn to develop training that presents learning content more effectively. Pedagogy has also expanded beyond its focus on K-12 school students to encompass learners of any age.

Other relevant terms that apply to the art and science of learning and learning content design, are andragogy (instructors determine and guide decisions as to what content is to be learned and learners shape how they will learn the material) and heutagogy (learners determine what and how they will learn with support from an instructor).


About Angela Gunder

Photo of Angela Gunder

Angela Gunder, PhD, is the Chief Academic Officer for the Online Learning Consortium, where she is responsible for advancing the thought leadership of the OLC. She is an online instructor for The University of Arizona School of Information, teaching courses on instructional design, digital media, web design, and gameful learning. Her research focuses on open remix practices, open culture, digital literacies, narrative digital learning practices, and emerging technology for language acquisition.

Term: Pedagogy