AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION METHODS

In this unit you are going to learn about the various agricultural extension teaching methods. As we all know, teaching is the imparting of information and extension teaching guides the learning process so that the farmer learns more and better.

Agricultural extension teaching methods is going to be discussed under three subheadings namely:

  1. Individual methods
  2. Group methods and
  3. Mass methods.

The objectives below specify what you are expected to have learnt after studying this post. After studying this post, you should be able to:

· write briefly on the individual methods

· discuss clearly the group methods

· identify the mass methods.

Extension Teaching Methods

Extension teaching methods may be defined as devices used to create situations in which new information can pass freely between the extension worker and the farming communities. It is the function of the extension worker to use the extension methods which provide opportunities for rural people to learn and which stimulate mental and physical activities among the people. For extension workers to be successful they must be proficient in technical knowledge and educational process and must also have the right attitude towards rural people.

Four conditions are necessary for effective use of teaching methods.

These include the learning situation, the learning objectives, the learning experiences and the use of a variety of teaching methods. The learning situation comprises the extension worker who has clear objectives, knows the subject matter to be taught and is able to communicate freely with the farmers. The learning situation also includes the people who are capable and interested in learning and the subject-matter which must be pertinent to farmers’ needs and which is taught at people’s intellectual level. In physical terms, the learning situation should be free from outside distraction and should be suitable to the subject matter presented and should be available when required and ought to be skilfully used.

As a pre-condition, objectives for the use of extension methods must be clearly established. An objective has already been defined as an end towards which teaching is directed (see module 1 unit 2). Any purposeful teaching has specific objectives which must contain four basic elements-people to be taught, behaviour changes to be made, subject matter to be taught and life situation in which action is to take place.

Another condition is the employment of effective learning experiences.

A learning experience is defined as the mental or physical reaction one makes in a learning situation through seeing, hearing or performing activities during a learning process. The final condition is that provision should be made for the opportunity to use a variety of extension methods.

Extension methods may be classified in three groups on the basis of the number of people they are designed to reach: these are: (1) individual methods (2) group methods and (3) mass methods.

Individual Methods

Individual methods are used in extension teaching in recognition of the fact that learning is an individual process and that the personal influence of the extension worker is an important factor in securing people’s participation in extension activities. The various methods which come under the classification of individual methods include farm and home visits, office calls, telephone calls, personal letters, informal contacts and result demonstrations.

Farm and home visits are essential elements of extension education.

They provide a means of personal communication between the farm family and the extension worker in an environment where they can discuss matters of common interest in privacy and without the distractions and interruptions commonly experienced in group extension activities. Farm and home visits serve the following useful purposes:

  1. To acquaint extension worker with the farmer and farm family
  2. To answer specific requests for help
  3. To gain first hand knowledge of problems faced by the farmer or villager
  4. To explain a recommended practice
  5. To follow up and observe the results of recommended practices
  6. To plan an activity such as demonstration, or a meeting
  7. To invite the farmer or villager to participate in a planned activity
  8. To discuss policies and programmes
  9. To recruit, train or encourage a local volunteer leader

Careful and adequate preparation is the key to a successful visit as with all extension methods. Visits are extensive in terms of time and transportation. Preparation for a visit will include a review of all the known facts about the farm, the farmer and the family, specific information concerning the problem, purpose or activity involved and materials such as leaflets and samples that may be left with the farmer.

Office calls are made by the farmer for the purpose of satisfying a felt need. They are an expression of interest by the farmer in a need which he hopes the extension worker can help him meet. Office calls provide the extension worker with knowledge of the needs of the farming community. Like farm and home visits, they help to build farmers’ confidence in the worker and create good public relations. They are less expensive and time consuming than farm and home visits. However, the farmer may feel less at home in the office and may be sensitive to the attitude of the worker. He may also be too shy to disclose the real purpose of his visit.

Telephone calls are initiated by either the farmer or the extension worker, they are useful in giving specific information relating to treatment of known diseases, control of insect pests or to answer questions on interesting broadcasts or requests for bulletins and leaflets.

Telephone calls cannot be used where telecommunication system is under-developed.

Personal letters are useful in answering request for information, as follow-up after visits and office calls and in contacting local volunteer leaders. The use of letters as a teaching method is quite limited in countries lacking an efficient postal service or where many rural residents are illiterate.

Be careful that the information you give in a letter is simple, understandable and complete without being wordy or including unnecessary information. Remember, the words you put on paper are all he has to go by in determining your meaning.

Informal contacts provide many opportunities for effective extension work. Every experienced extension worker has had people stop him on the street or in the village to ask a question. Often, seeing the extension worker will remind the villager of a problem about which he would like technical advice. Market days, picnics, holiday celebrations and religious events bring people together. Where people gather, they talk about current problems in farming and rural life. By attending such events, the extension worker will become better acquainted with his people, learn of their wants, needs and problems and be able to impart information on an informal basis.

Result demonstration is a method by teaching designed to show, by example the practical application of an established fact or group of facts.

‘The result demonstration”- “Is one which shows after a period of time what happened after a practice is adopted. As an example, compost is put on a certain field. Good seed potatoes are planted and cared for. In the next field, no compost is used and poor seed potatoes are used. At harvest time the potatoes are dug in each field at the same time. The villagers have watched all during the planting, growing and harvesting season. They see how much better results are from using better practices. This is a result of demonstration”. Comparison is the essential ingredient in result demonstration.

The advantages of result demonstration are as follows:

  1. Furnishes local proof of the desirability of adopting a recommended practice
  2. Is an efficient method for introducing a new subject
  3. Appeals to the eye and reaches the “show me” individual
  4. Provides a good source of information for meetings, news items, pictures, radio talks.
  5. Furnishes cost data and other basic information
  6. A high percentage of people will understand
  7. Aids in developing local leadership
  8. Establishes confidence in the extension worker and in extension work

Limitations

  1. Result demonstration requires a large amount of extension workers time
  2. The cost is high per practice changed
  3. Good demonstrations are hard to find
  4. Few people see the demonstration at a not-convincing stage
  5. The teaching value is frequently destroyed by unfavourable weather.

Group Methods

Group methods take into account the inclination of the individual to respond to the pressures and opinions of groups in which he participates and to listen to the views of others before arriving at a decision about making changes in his farming operations.

Group method include general meetings, group discussion, exhibits, tours and field trips, method demonstrations, extension schools and farmer training centre.

General meetings include all kinds of meetings held by the extension worker except demonstration meetings. The method of conducting the meetings may be lectures, discussions, showing of slides and motion pictures or any combination of these. The method of the meeting must be well thought out and the agenda carefully prepared in order to achieve objectives envisaged. During the meeting, provision should be made for use of models, charts, specimens, pictures e.t.c to illustrate points. Towards the end of the meeting allowance should be made for questions and answers which would help clarify specific ideas. To make the meeting successful, the extension worker should enlist the help of local leaders to:

  1. agree on the purpose of the meeting and to draw up tentative programme;
  2. decide on and secure speakers;
  3. arrange for social and recreational aspects of the meeting;
  4. agree on the place and time of the meeting;
  5. select the chairman and advertise the meeting.

Kelsey and Hearne (1966) identify five general types of meeting involved in extension work:

  1. Organization meetings include board of directors meetings, youth clubs, home makers clubs, executive committees and many others.
  2. Planning meetings requires preparation of a large amount of situation material. Much of this must be done by professional extension workers who should resist a natural tendency to dominate the meeting.
  3. Training meetings are essential element in developing and using rural leaders in extension
  4. Special interest meetings are engaged to serve the educational needs of groups with common interest such as gardening, fishing, dairying, home management or sewing. They may be held singly or in series over a period of time.
  5. Community meetings as the name suggest are for all the people in the community, men, women, young people, with all the varied interests of the community.

Like other methods used in extension work, meetings of all kinds have advantages and limitations. Meetings are useful in reaching a large number of people; they serve as a preparatory stage for the use of other methods. By means of meetings, use can be made of group psychology to promote programmes. One of the drawback of meetings is that they offer limited scope for discussion. Where the audience is large, handling a topic may become very difficult especially where there are disparities in age and educational attainments.

Group discussion is a method commonly used in extension work.

Generally, discussion is the process by which two or more persons pool their knowledge and feelings, and through mutual agreement clarify the issues under consideration. There are several distinct types of group discussion meetings. The newest idea is called “brain trust” in which questions are posed and the participating “brains” provide their opinions and views. Actually this is quite similar to panel and symposium discussions. The panel is usually a rather informal discussion by several “experts” to consider a major topic, while a symposium is characterized by having several speakers, each of whom gives a rather detailed and usually prepared presentation of his views.

Sometimes the symposium speakers are given a chance to answer one or more of the others in a form of rebuttal.

Exhibits are systematic displays of specimens, models, charts, posters, etc. Their main purpose is to develop the interest of those who see them, influence their attitude, increase their knowledge and stimulate them to action. Exhibits are considered as some of the best methods of teaching illiterates. A well planned educational exhibit can present information quickly and convincingly. Exhibit have imaginative appeal, and can stimulate competitive spirit among participants, this will be particularly so when prizes are awarded to those who produce the best shows.

An exhibit can be of any size. It can be a display of a few potted maize plants with different levels of fertilizer treatments or it can be as big as world agricultural fair. However, for extension purposes, they should be made simple, and should convey only one idea at a time.

Tours and field trips are methods of extension teaching which appeal to man’s desire to “go places and see things”. It represents a teaching method whereby a group of people are taken on a study tour to observe the result of improved practices in actual situations. This means that the group will travel together for a day or more. Tours are among the best methods of teaching farm people to gain practical knowledge because people learn through seeing things in actual operation. Tours are most suited for teaching groups such as members of Young Farmers Clubs. A tour can be made to a research station, demonstration farms and similar places of educational interest.

The following suggestion will help you plan and hold a successful tour or field trip.

  1. Decide exactly what you wish to accomplish
  2. Work out a detailed plan for the tour well in advance
  3. Go through a rehearsal or “dry run” of the entire programme well in advance
  4. On the day of the tour, keep the party together and keep them moving briskly from point to point.

In general smaller groups are preferred to larger groups.

Method demonstration

A method demonstration is to teach a skill. It teaches how to do certain work. It is always interesting to the farmers and especially when the demonstration is concluded by the extension worker, it increases their respect for the worker. Examples of method demonstration subjects include (i) seed treatment (ii) pruning, and (iii) spraying.

Things to note in method demonstration are as follows:

  1. Outline operations in logical steps
  2. Identify key points
  3. Carefully select materials and tools
  4. Arrange for diagrams or other teaching aids
  5. Rehearse demonstration until perfect
  6. Make sure all the audience can see and hear him
  7. Explain purpose and show application to local problem
  8. Show each operation slowly, step by step
  9. Emphasize key points
  10. Invite members of audience to repeat demonstration

Advantages of Method Demonstration

  1. It teaches needed skill to many people at one time
  2. Seeing, hearing, discussing and participating stimulate action.
  3. It builds confidence in extension worker if demonstration is skilfully performed
  4. Local leaders easily learn simple demonstrations and can repeat them with other groups.
  5. It promotes personal acquaintance between the demonstrators and the farmers
  6. It influences changes in practice with many people at a single
  7. meeting.

Limitations

  1. It is frequently difficult to ensure that all members of the group can see clearly
  2. With certain demonstrations considerable equipment must be transported to the meeting places
  3. Requires a certain amount of showmanship not possessed by all extension workers.

Extension schools are designed to give the participants knowledge and skill in some specific line of subject matter such as irrigation methods, dress making or gardening. Schools involve intensive training over a specific period of time, such as one to four days. They may require pre-enrolment and an obligation to attend all sections.

Schools offer an opportunity for presentation of much information in a short time to a selected group of people with special interest in the subject. They must be well organized with specific teaching objectives and employ teaching methods which will hold the interest of participants. Demonstrations, discussions and the use of visuals add much to their effectiveness. Periodic and terminal evaluations help to keep the programme realistic and provide guidance in conducting future schools.

Farmer training centre have been used effectively in a number of developing countries to train farmers and their wives in concepts and practices of modern agriculture and home making.

Leadership training appears to be the most effective role of farmer training centres. To fulfil this role, training centre programmes must be integrated with extension programmes to the extent that:

  1. Subjects of training contribute to the educational objectives included in the extension programme.
  2. Participants are selected on the basis of their leadership potential and through recommended leader recruitment processes, and
  3. Returned participants are utilized in planning and executing extension programmes.

Mass Methods

Individual and group methods cannot reach everyone who wants and needs information. So mass methods-radio, television, cinema vans and public address systems, newspapers, posters and other printed materials are used to reach large numbers of people quickly.

Radio is one of the fastest, most powerful and in many countries the only way of communicating with the masses of rural people. It reaches people of all cultural levels who understand the language of transmission.

An advantage of radio programmes is that they can be done almost anywhere through the use of tape recorder. Radio is useful in reporting spot news, such as announcement of meetings, for warning about insect outbreaks, and especially as a part of campaigns.

Listening habits may vary according to the society involved. Studies of listening habits will tell the extension worker when his listeners are likely to be men and women and at what hours they listen most. Take these factors into account when planning your programme.

Television adds a second dimension to radio broadcasting thus increasing the scope of methods available to the extension worker. He can demonstrate as well as talk. Television programmes require meticulous preparation. Every piece of equipments must be in place and the dialogue must be well thought out. In spite of the relatively high cost of receiving sets, television occupies an increasingly important role in developing countries.

Advantage of Radio and Television

  1. Radio programmes are especially fitted to handle emergency information
  2. Reach people who cannot read
  3. Reach people who cannot attend extension meeting
  4. Build interest in other extension activities

Limitations

  1. Broadcasting facilities are not everywhere available
  2. Active involvement of the audience in the teaching process is impossible
  3. Frequently extension programmes are given poor time for farm listeners
  4. Direct and immediate feedback from the audience to the teacher is not possible
  5. Frequently extension programmes loose out in competition with entertainment
  6. Specific local needs cannot be given adequate attention and there is often cultural gap (e.g. language, dialect) between the speaker and the audience.

Cinema vans and public address systems: In most African countries the

Ministry of Agriculture and Information provides cinema vans which have substituted almost perfectly for television in bringing visual entertainment and agricultural information to rural people. A cinema van can show an agricultural film to a large audience in two or more villages each night. The films demonstrate new techniques that the people can apply on their own farms.

The public-address system can be used to make announcements and bring agricultural information to a number of villages in one day.

Newspapers provide a valuable channel for transmission of educational information where they exist and where rural people receive and read them. Newspapers print news and news consists of items of broad interest to their readers. Newspaper space is valuable and limited. Your news item must compete for attention with other items as well as advertising and the editor is the sole judge of its news value. All materials for the press should be factual, well written, and intelligently planned. Otherwise it will probably be discarded by the editor.

Write simply, using short sentences and paragraphs that are easy to read.

Remember that you must catch the readers’ attention in the first sentence or he is unlikely to read further. The succeeding facts should be put down in the order of their importance. The ABC’s of good writing are accuracy, brevity and clarity.

Poster: A poster is a sheet of paper or cardboard with an illustration and usually a few simple words. It is designed to catch the attention of the passer by, impress on him a fact or an idea and stimulate him to support an idea, get more information or take some kind of action.

Since a single glance may be all your poster will get, the message must be simple and clear. Details and wordy sentences have no place. Here are a few suggestions that will help you design more effective posters.

  1. Decide exactly who your audience is. Decide exactly what you want to tell them. Decide what you want them to do.
  2. Put down on a sheet of paper words and rough pictures that express your message simply and clearly.
  3. Try to put your message into a few words- a coincise striking slogan. Visualise or put into picture for the most important central idea in the message.
  4. Cut out your poster in small scale – 81 or 41 actual size.

Other suggestions: use plain, bold lettering and lines. Use colour to attract attention and for contrast. Remember however that too many colours add confusion. Allow plenty of space. Do not crowd letters, words or illustrations.

Folders, leaflets and Pamphlets: Simple folders, leaflets and pamphlets can be used in many ways in extension programmes. They may be used singly for example to explain the advantage of testing soil. They may be used as reminders of when to plant crops or what chemicals to use to control different insects.

Folders, leaflets and pamphlets may be used in coordination with other visuals in long-range campaigns. Because of their lowcost, they can be given away at meetings and fairs and offered on radio programmes.

They are useful to supplement large publications when new information is available and when reprinting the whole publication is not practical.

EXERCISE 1

  1. What is extension teaching method?
  2. List four conditions necessary for effective use of teaching methods
  3. Extension methods may be classified into three groups these are (a) ——————– (b)————————and (c)——————
  4. Individual methods include (a)—————— (b)——————– (c) ———————- (d) ———————–(e)——————— (f)————————— (g) —————————–
  5. Group methods include (a)——————– (b)———————- (c) ——————– (d) ———————(e)———————– (g) ——————————–
  6. List the components of mass methods.

CONCLUSION

This unit has introduced you to the various extension teaching methods and their various classification according to use. In many teaching situations an extension worker will find that the use of two or more methods will be much more effective than the employment of any single method.

SUMMARY

The main points in this unit include the following

  • Extension teaching methods may be defined as devices used to create situations in which new information can pass freely between the extension worker and the farming communities.
  • Extension methods may be classified in three groups on the basis of the number of people they are designed to reach. These are:
    • Individual methods
    • Group methods, and
    • Mass methods
  • Individual methods are used in extension teaching in recognition of the fact that learning is an individual process.
  • Group methods take into account the inclination of the individual to respond to the pressures and opinions of groups in which he participates and to listen to the views of others before arriving at a decision about making changes in his farming operations.
  • Individual and group methods cannot reach everyone who wants and needs information. So mass methods are used to reach large numbers of people quickly.

EXERCISE 2

  1. Extension teaching methods are devices used to create situations in which new information can pass freely between the extension worker and the farming communities.
  2. (a) Learning situation (b) Learning objectives (c) Learning experiences (d) Use of a variety of teaching methods.
  3. (a) Individual methods (b) Group methods (c) Mass methods
  4. (a) Farm and home visit (b) Office calls (c) Telephone calls (d) Personal letters (e) Informal contacts (f) Result demonstration
  5. (a) General meetings (b) group discussion (c) Exhibits (d) Tours and field trips Method demonstrations (f) Extension schools (g) Farmer training Centre
  6. (a) Radio (b) Television (c) Cinema vans and public address systems(d) Newspapers (e) posters (f) folders, leaflets and pamphlets.

QUESTIONS

  1. Write explanatory notes on the individual methods
  2. Write briefly on the components of group methods
  3. Discuss the mass methods of extension

REFERENCES/FURTHER READINGS

Laogun E.A (2005). Extension Teaching/Learning Process and

Extension Methods. In S.F. Adedoyin (ed). Agricultural

Extension in Nigeria. Publication of Agricultural. Extension

Society of Nigeria, pp 201-207.

Kelsey, L.D. and Hearne, C.C. (1966). Cooperative Extension Work.

Constock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, New York.

Obibuaku, L.O. (1983). Agricultural Extension as a strategy for

Agricultural Transformation. University of Nigeria Press,

Nsukka Nigeria, 19pp.

Van den Ban, A.W. and Hawkins, H.S. (1985). Agricultural Extension,

Longman Scientific and Technical, USA, New York, 328 pp.

Youdeowei, A., Ezidinma, F.O.C., and Onazi, O.C. (1986). Introduction

to Tropical Agriculture. Longman, 344pp.