Extension agents’ preferences on teaching methods: An ordered probit with selection model

Outreach and Extension services are important to enhance human capital by providing with useful and practical research findings in a way that farmers can understand. A limited number of studies have been conducted to understand the methods Extension agents use to deliver information. The research to date has tended to primarily focus on identifying learning methods preferred by farmers and has compared them with the teaching methods used by Extension agents. However, little is known about how Extension agents decide the types of methods they use for outreach and why they prefer those methods. A clear understanding about these mechanisms could prove crucial in closing the existing gap between farmers’ needs for information and extension’ teaching preferences, and assuring the development and delivery of effective educational programs. Davis (2006) theorized that educators tend to teach the way they prefer to learn. This study attempts to provide quantitative evidence on how Extension educators’ personal preferences for learning methods impact their teaching methods decisions. Specifically, the goals of this study are: 1) to identify Extension agents’ characteristics that affect their selection of different types of educational methods, and 2) to explain how Extension agents’ perception of farmers’ reception affects this selection. Results from this study will help enhance learning among farmers by understanding educators’ preferences of learning and teaching methods. The data used in this study was collected through an electronic survey administered to Extension and other outreach agents in 10 western states of the U.S. on December, 2012. Statistical analysis indicates that Extension and other outreach agents work primarily with farmers and agribusiness groups. Extension agents surveyed for this study showed preference for learning and outreach methods such as: field days, seminars, face-to-face meetings with farmers, community educational events, and internet. Using an ordered probit model corrected for selection bias, this paper aims to explain the Extension educators’ characteristics that influence their decision of the type of educational methods they use to transfer agricultural information. Various factors are believed to explain the use of learning methods by Extension agents, including: education level, age, region, area of expertise, target group, perception on the farmers’ use of information, and years of experience. Results will shed light on the understanding of how Extension agents choose teaching methods will provide with tools to better design and conduct training activities and ultimately help farmers improve their productivity.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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