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.
Recently Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service began implementing the PIE Program Change Model (Figure 1). At the core of this model is effectively executing transformational education. This approach to Extension education requires a different mindset that moves clientele from obtaining knowledge to taking action in order to change behavior, adopt new practices, or adopt new technology that results in economic, social, or environmental impacts. Transformative education theory provides the theoretical framework to design programs that result in clientele change at a higher level.
Figure 1. PIE Program Change Model.
Transformative learning theory has played a prominent role in the literature of adult education for several years (Hoggan, 2015) and has been a topic of interest in many disciplines including religious studies, adult education, agriculture, health care, and Extension education. In describing transformative outcomes, O’Sullivan, Morrell and O’Conner (2002) reported that transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. The basic premise regarding transformative Extension education is that learning, or knowledge is a precursor to action or change. Figure 2 illustrates an Extension educational model for transformational education.
Figure 2. Extension Educational Model for Transformational Education.
Transformational education builds upon Extension’s long history of providing quality educational experiences for clientele. Teaching specific disciplines and transferring research-based information or content has been and remains the hallmark of Extension since its inception. AgriLife Extension historically emphasized a variety of approaches to traditional information transfer. However, since the 1980s, AgriLife Extension programs have not focused just on discipline or information-oriented needs but shifted its focus to issue-based needs that require a more multidisciplinary approach.
Extension has a competitive advantage in deploying transformational Extension education because there are many options for clientele to access educational information from competing educational enterprises, agriculture manufacturing companies, private consultants, the internet, health care providers, or other outreach educational sources. Extension is operating in a very competitive environment (Blewett, Keim, Leser, & Jones, 2008). However, AgriLife Extension is uniquely positioned with an extensive educational network of county Extension agents and specialists. Transformational education is an approach that can deliver the most value to communities by designing educational programs that consistently lay the foundation for transformational learning and action in communities.
AgriLife Extension faculty may not currently recognize transformational Extension education as something different from what they are presently doing. Many evidence-based AgriLife Extension programs and some research-based programs have significant levels of content transfer and process that result in clientele changing a behavior, adopting a practice, or adopting new technology. However, many outstanding programs with high levels of content transfer do not result in transformational decisions where clientele take action in the form of behavior change, adoption of practices, or implementation of technology. Transformational Extension education should connect the knowledge the clientele gains to their intent to adopt a physical or mental application of what they learned and, ultimately, adopt a practice or technology or change a behavior. These programs should move clientele in a continuum from knowledge gained to intent-to-adopt to actual adoption. Transformational Extension educational programs should include the following attributes:
In today’s educational landscape, knowledge or intent-to adopt practices may be less meaningful. With information inundating our clientele, their knowledge related to subject matter is at an all-time high.
Intent to adopt a practice or technology or a goal or plan to change behavior may not accurately represent the actual adoption of best practices or technology. According to Herath (2013), many researchers have found that there is a significant difference between intention and actual behavior change. What clientele intend to do may not lead to what they will actually do (Hearth, 2013).
The theory of planned behavior developed by Ajzen (1985) explains that behavior is a function of intentions. Ajzen (1985) reported that an individual’s behavior is determined by their intention towards behavior. Intention is built upon three components: attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1985). Figure 3 depicts the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005).
Figure 3. Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, & Fishbein, 2005).
Intention is also determined by the relevant principal beliefs about the behavior (Herath, 2013). Consequently, the theory predicts that the stronger an individual’s intention, the more likely they will perform the behavior (Pawlak, Brown, Meyer, Connell, Yadrick, Johnson, & Blackwell, 2008). Attitudes toward behavior refer to the individual’s positive or negative evaluation of behavior.
Subjective norms are an individual’s perception of the social pressures to perform or not to perform a behavior (Herath, 2013), a belief of how significantly others would like him or her to act on a particular behavior. Subjective norms are thought to be driven by normative beliefs and the motivation to comply (Herath, 2013).
Perceived behavioral control is the individual opinion of the ease or difficulty of performing a behavior (Herath, 2013).
Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (2005). The influence of attitudes on behavior. In D. Albarracín, B. T. Johnson, & M. P. Zanna (Eds.). The Handbook of Attitudes (pp. 173–221). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Blewett, T., Keim, A., Leser, J., & Jones, J. (2008). Designing a transformational education model for the engaged university. Journal of Extension. Retrieved from https://www.joe.org/joe/2008june/comm1.php
Herath, C. (2013). Does intention lead to behavior? A case study of Czech Republic farmers. Technical report from Technology Transfer Division, Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka, Lunuwila, Sri Lanka.
Hoggan, C. (2018). Transformative learning as a metatheory: Definition, criteria, and typology. Adult Education Quarterly. Vol. 66, 1: pp 57–75. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/action/doSearch?ContribAuthorStored=Hoggan%2C+Chad+D&content=articlesChapters&countTerms=true&target=default&startPage=0&sortBy=relevancy
O’Sullivan, E., Morrell, A., O’Connor, M. (2002). Expanding the boundaries of transformative learning: Essays on theory and praxis. New York, NY: Palgrave.
Pawlak R., Brown D., Meyer M. K., Connell C., Yadrick K., Johnson J. T., Blackwell A. (2008): Theory of planned behavior and multivitamin supplement use in Caucasian college females. Primary Prevent, 29: 57–71.