The empirical literature examining the efficacy of andragogy remains, after over three decades, both inconclusive and beset by considerable variability in definition, resulting in differing approaches to andragogy’s implementation. This empirical record, residing largely in unread dissertations, is critiqued with a view toward establishing criteria for an operational, researchable, consensus-based definition of Knowles’ famous formulation. Seven such criteria are offered. Whether these—or other—criteria reach a kind of critical mass of agreement for future investigators is open for further discussion. But the current muddle of definitions and implementations has effectually stalled research. Unless that discussion reaches some approximate consensus, adult education’s most familiar and most debated theory will remain a fragmented article of faith at best, a fond illusion at worst.
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