American Association for Adult and Continuing Education
1827 Powers Ferry Road
Bldg 14, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339 US
Phone: (678) 271-4319
Fax: (678) 229-2777

Malcolm Knowles Award

For Outstanding Adult Education Program of the Year.

Malcolm Knowles has been a major influence in the practice of adult and continuing education. In his name, this award recognizes teams or individuals for outstanding leadership to programs, in accordance with andragogical processes, that demonstrate particular effectiveness, relevancy, creativity, immediacy, institutional cooperation or collaboration and legislative impact. Click here for Malcolm Knowles' obituary (New York Times).


This award was established in the name of Malcolm S. Knowles for his distinguished contribution to theory and practice in the field of adult education from 1935 onward. A hallmark of "Malcolm's" work has been his popularization of the theory of andragogy — the art and science of helping adults learn — in the USA and the spread of its influence around the world. This award is intended to give recognition to an adult education program, including the personnel responsible for carrying out the program, in accordance with the andragogical process. Click here to view the list of award recipients.


  • To be eligible, the program needs to have been carried out and conducted within the past two years with adult learners. The program needs to:
    • Be one completed cycle of events or series of events.
    • Outline how the program demonstrates the elements of an andragogical process.
    • Identify the program title.
    • List the institution(s) and person(s) involved.
    • Indicate the results accomplished.
  • Elements of an andragogy process of program development include:
    • Learning climate that is relaxed, trusting, mutually respectful, informal, warm, collaborative, and supportive.
    • Learning mutually planned by learners, participants, and facilitators.
    • Diagnosis of learning needs done by mutual assessment of learners and facilitators.
    • Setting of objectives accomplished by mutual negotiation between learners and facilitators.
    • Designing learning plans sequenced by readiness through learning projects and learning contracts.
    • Learning activities through experiential techniques, inquiry projects, independent study.
    • Evaluation by learner-collected evidence validated by peers, experts, and facilitators, which is also criterion referenced.
  • Nominations and Selection Process:
    • Nominations for the award include documentation describing how each of the elements of an andragogy process were fulfilled in the program. Exhibits of program materials may also be included.
    • Deadline: Send nominations and materials via email or mail  to be received by the AAACE office ( no later than June 30.
    • The selection committee of three to five AAACE members will be appointed by the National Awards Committee. This committee will be responsible for making certain the award description and criteria are printed and distributed to the membership through Online newsletter.
    • Evaluating the applications submitted for consideration in accordance with the andragogical program development process and the criteria listed above.
    • Selecting the winner(s) of the award. The appointed awards committee will complete the review and selection process by September 1.
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