Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Angela Burkham, Executive Associate Director, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
After completing phases one (plan) of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services PIE Change Model (figure 1), it is time to move to the implementation phase. One of the most exciting and fulfilling responsibilities in Extension education is the implementation of a successful program.
Figure 1. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service PIE Change Model.
Effective educational programs produce clientele change when the program is purposefully designed, organized, and delivered. Change techniques or delivery methods should be selected for a specific educational purpose with clearly defined “teaching points that are strategically linked to program objectives and evaluation methods.” The best change techniques or program delivery methods depends on the target audience, educational objectives, type and context of the educational information being presented, characteristics of the educational delivery method, the sequence of educational events, and the method’s efficacy in providing the desired measurable outcomes (Seevers & Graham, 2012).
Extension educators utilize a variety of change techniques or educational delivery methods to affect clienteles’ behaviors (Seevers & Graham, 2012). These methods can be helpful to elicit change, which is our goal of creating and implementing Extension programs. Keep in mind each change technique or delivery method has its advantages and limitations, and each is particularly adapted to specific situations (Seevers & Graham, 2012). The Extension educators challenge is to identify when, where, and how to provide the best learning experience for clientele (Seevers & Graham, 2012). We discuss each of these methods below.
Seevers and Graham (2012) indicated that Extension educators can classify change techniques or educational delivery methods according to the nature of the situation and how many clients should receive the educational content (Figure 2):
Figure 2. Change Techniques or Delivery Methods by nature of contact.
Refer back to these methods often, they can help you best deliver educational content to clients.
Early Extension work began with individual contact, a method that is still frequently utilized (Seevers & Graham, 2012). This delivery method involves one-on-one contact between the Extension educator and client, which provides personal consultation of a specific nature (Seevers & Graham, 2012). Examples of this classification of contact include farm or home visits, office visits, or telephone calls where clientele request information (Seevers & Graham, 2012). Research conducted in 2019 by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Organizational Development Unit to determine how Texans prefer to learn revealed that one-on-one instruction still rated high among clientele in spite of the wide variety of options available (Cummings, Dromgoole, Payne & Dewald, 2019).
The second classification of contact involves teaching a number of people assembled in a group or a number of groups (Seevers & Graham, 2012). This category includes various types of meetings (Seevers & Graham, 2012). This method enables the Extension educator to reach a group of people which is more efficient than individual contacts in terms of allocation of resources. The group contact method includes training meetings, seminars, workshops, field days, tours, and others.
The third classification involves the use of various media (e.g., radio, social media, computer on-line learning modules, exhibits, television, or the internet). This method is good when Extension educators need to disseminate information to and impact large numbers of clientele (Seevers & Graham, 2012).
It is imperative for Extension educators to consider which educational delivery method (individual, group, or mass media), aligns with their target audience’s learning style and the program’s educational objective (Ripley, Cummings, Lockett, Pope, Wright, Payne, Kieth & Murphrey, 2011). Table 1 provides a list of delivery methods and intended outcomes that align with each other to increase the probability of realizing the program’s educational objective (Ripley et al., 2011):
Table 1. Typical Extension Change Techniques or Delivery Methods and the Intended Outcomes.
When considering program delivery methods it should be recognized that individuals in your target audience have different learning styles. Learning styles can be best described as simply different approaches or ways of learning. Figure 3 illustrates teaching methods appropriate for various learning styles (Ripley et al., 2011):
Figure 3. Change techniques or teaching methods appropriate for various learning styles.
As you are planning, designing and implementing educational events, be mindful that educational programming is an intentional effort to fulfill predetermined needs of people and communities (Seevers & Graham, 2012).
A single event or activity seldom results in the types of behavioral changes necessary to realize this mission. Therefore, a program is defined as a series of sequential educational events (field days, workshops, mass media efforts, social media efforts, clinics, result demonstrations, and short courses, etc.) that results in clientele change.
The term program refers to the product resulting from all activities in which Extension educators and clientele are involved (Seevers & Graham, 2012). Many times Extension educators interpret educational programs as a single educational event (e.g., activity, workshop, clinic, or field day), when in actuality these activities may be only a single component of the overall educational program.
The term sequential indicates that each of these educational activities/events are designed to build on the previous event, and ultimately, sequenced in a logical manner to allow clientele to move on an educational continuum from basic concepts to more complex concepts.
Keep in mind, after multiple educational events have been implemented, an evaluation is conducted of the entire program, not after each event. Evaluations should identify how much impact it had on the clientele (e.g., change in behavior, adoption of practices, or adoption of technology).
Extension educators should be mindful that educational programs are designed to address issues identified by local clientele with committees, task forces, and coalitions involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation and interpretation of programs. In future Next Step to Success Blog we discuss sequencing of educational events in more detail.
Cumming, S., Dromgoole, D., Payne, M., & Dewald, S. (2019) How Texans Learn. Pending publication.
Ripley, J., Cummings, S, Lockett, L., Pope, P., Wright, M., Payne, M., Kieth, L., & Murphrey, T. (2011). Creating Excellent Programs. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Publication. E-345. Retrieved from http://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/od/files/2010/03/E345.pdf
Seevers, B., & Graham, D. (2012). Education through Cooperative Extension. (3rd ed.). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Bookstore.