Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
When executing the new PIE program change model (figure 1) it is critical to spend quality time in planning programs that are designed in a purposeful manner. When designing programs utilizing the PIE program change model there is essentially two approaches. One approach is to “throw a lot of stuff on the wall and hope something will stick” or the preferred method is to design programs in a systematic and deliberate manner.
Figure 1. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service PIE Change Model.
Program design is the outline of an educational program from the beginning until the program is concluded. In this context, a program refers to multiple learning experiences over time—educational events and resources presented and delivered in a purposeful, sequential manner and intended to produce a change in the target audience in terms of change in clientele behavior or adoption of best practices/new technology (Ripley, Cummings, Lockett, Pope, Wright, Payne, Kieth & Murphrey, 2011). A key consideration is to determine what educational events necessary to empower clientele to solve the problem or resolve the issue (Seever & Graham, 2012)
Content may be different when serving the needs of each target audience in order to achieve the desired results (Seever & Graham, 2012). In an effort to ensure that programming is sequential, educational content needs to be sequenced logically for effective learning to occur (Seever & Graham, 2012). There are numerous resources available to Extension Educators for developing and selecting program content. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has a built-in internal network of content specialists. This network may include other County Extension Agents and Subject Matter Specialists (Seever & Graham, 2012). In addition, a standardized curriculum exists for many Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s programs.
In order to design an educational program, determine what needs to be taught, develop the content, and decide how to deliver it efficiently and effectively the following factors should be considered (Ripley et al., 2011):
Frequently, Extension Educators fail to consider the many factors that affect learning and rate of adoption (Ripley et al., 2011). People learn about a subject by building on previous information. Because people learn best through multiple learning experiences, educators should use more than one teaching method. Design the program to cover the material over an extended period, allowing for the target audience members to build on their knowledge and change their behavior through a strategic process (Ripley et al., 2011).
When planning program delivery methods, Extension Educators should consider the following questions (Seever & Graham, 2012):
Researchers in New Zealand reported that when time between learning experiences is provided there is a more optimum educational environment for clientele to learn (Gray, Sewell Hartnett, Wood, Kemp, Blair, Kenyon & Morris, 2016). By providing clientele time between educational experiences, they have time to reflect and synthesize information to determine how it will be applied to their specific situation. Figures 2 and 3 provides an example of a purposefully designed educational program that utilize sequential learning opportunities, has clear learning objectives and provides time between learning experiences to allow clientele time to synthesize information to determine how they will apply learned concepts to their particular situation:
Figure 2. Concept map that illustrates pre and post face to face learning opportunities to be incorporated in a series of three face to face educational meetings.
Figure 3. Example of an outline for face to face educational meetings.
The following is an example of the situational analysis and objectives for the above program example:
The challenge for agriculture over the next few decades will be meeting the world’s increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner. In Cow Country County, more than 90,000 head of beef cattle are produced with an economic impact of more than $ 85,000,000. One of the keys to profitable beef cattle production is nutrition management of the cow herd. The proper nutrition of beef cattle is a key component of a successful production system. Feed usually accounts for the single largest input cost associated with beef cattle production. Nutrition impacts numerous aspects of a beef cattle production system including reproduction efficiency, calving intervals, and calf vigor at birth.
A production practices inventory survey administered to program participants (clientele who registered for the course) before the program was initiated it was determined that less than 15% of participants utilized body condition scoring to distinguish differences in nutritional needs of beef cows in the herd. Research indicates that there is a correlation between the body condition of a cow and her reproductive performance. The percentage of open cows, calving interval, and calf vigor at birth are all closely related to the body condition of cows, both at calving and during the breeding season. All these factors play an important role in the economics of a beef cow-calf operation and help determine the percentage of viable calves each year. Monitoring body condition using the Body Condition Score System is an important managerial tool for assessing production efficiency.
The production practice survey administered to program participants also indicated that only 20% of the participating cattle producers understood the nutrient needs of beef cows prior to the breeding season or during the calving season. It also indicated that less than 15% utilized soil testing to analyze nutrient needs in pastures and that the average calving percentage was 82% for participant’s herds.
The objectives of this program will be the following:
Finally, 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. Teaching in only one specific way is not an effective method of reaching and engaging a broad group of learners. Researchers suggest there are various learning styles models, but four general types of learning styles have been identified—visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic, which make up the VARK Model (Table 1.).
Table 1. VARK Learning Styles Model
|Visual||Graphics, pictures, flow charts and other visuals are advantageous to effective learning|
|Auditory||Hearing information is a prominent element to effective learning.|
|Reading/writing||Reading written text or writing notes is conducive to effective learning.|
|Kinesthetic||Hands on experiential learning is advantageous to learning.|
Although issues, problems, technologies, and opportunities change, real learning and genuine impacts are achieved when engaged learners have a vested interest in the topic and a variety of delivery methods are utilized to reach them.
Gray, D., Sewell, A., Hartnett, M., Wood, B., Kemp, P., Blair, H., Kenyon, P., & Morris, S. (2016) Improved extension practices for sheep and beef farmers. Hill Country- Grassland Research and Practice Series # 16.
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.