Has the time come for Heutagogy? Supporting neurodivergent learners in higher education

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An increasing number of neurodivergent learners attend higher education. This necessitates examination of best-fit learning models to successfully support the current generation of college students. While pedagogy and andragogy have historical relevance, in isolation, they may lack alignment with the individualization embedded in neurodiversity-affirming practice. This study conceptualized a novel learning framework for neurodivergent college students through the lens of neurodiversity-affirming practice. Via constant comparative qualitative analysis of American university faculty interviews and framework juxtaposition, three themes were identified: pedagogy vs. andragogy, self-determination, and interdependency. Thematic analysis revealed uncertainty regarding best-fit learning framework, with consensus reached regarding complexity of serving neurodivergent adults in post-secondary settings. An innovative framework titled “Building a Heutagogical Bridge” was envisioned, describing the role of heutagogy, student-centered, self-determined learning, in connecting signature pedagogical and andragogical approaches. This study revealed the potentiality of implementing and assessing approaches to skillfully incorporate heutagogical, pedagogical, and andragogical principles in higher education settings. The perspectives of faculty from the USA within this study can inform neurodiversity-affirming practice in American universities, while providing implications for future study and practice in international college settings, where contexts, needs, and culture may differ.

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Higher Education



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