Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Danny Nusser, Regional Program Leader for Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H and Youth Development, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Jason Ott, County Extension Agent- Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nueces County, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Result demonstration/applied research is one of the most effective educational tools for transferring research-based technologies and practices to agricultural producers and the general public. As Extension works to help Texans address emerging issues, we can increase our effectiveness and the rate of adoption by conducting applied research trials and disseminating their results.
Result demonstrations were the foundation of Cooperative Extension. Seaman A. Knapp and Walter C. Porter began result demonstrations in 1902 near Terrell, Texas to show local farmers how to reduce boll weevil damage on cotton. The adoption of production practices and changes in the behavior of producers as a result of these demonstrations was instrumental in the passage of legislation (Smith-Lever Act of 1914) that authorized Cooperative Extension as a part of the Land-Grant Colleges and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Result demonstrations are conducted to show potential adopters how a practice, variety, or technology functions. Remember, no single method of delivery influences adoption decisions by a target audience, as much as does the result demonstration.
Everett M. Rogers, a pioneer in adoption-diffusion principles, identified five factors that affect an individual’s decision to adopt or reject an innovation. These principles include; relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability (See Figure 1).
Figure 1. Factors Impacting an Individuals Decision to Adopt or Reject an Innovation (Rogers, 1995).
Adoption of new technologies, best practices, and individual behavior changes can usually be traced to one or more of these five principles.
Think through these principles and discuss them when trying to convince clients to consider a behavior, best practice or new technology. If you successfully describe these principles, you can increase the potential for your audience to adopt the idea or innovation.
Remember that these principles are not absolutes; rather they are perceptions developed by your clients about the innovation. So, if you can successfully increase/improve clients’ perceptions of an innovation’s relative advantage, compatibility, observability, and trialabilty and decrease/lessen clients’ perceptions of an innovations complexity you will increase the rate of adoption of that innovation by your target audience.
You can distribute the research-based data from your demonstration to clientele in a variety of educational settings (Figure 2). For example, you might use a trial or series of trials as the “capstone” of an Extension educational program. You can use the trial as a source of data and teaching points for field days, result demonstration/applied research reports, educational newsletters, short courses, and workshops.
Figure 2. Educational Strategies that can be Utilized to Increase Educational Value of Result Demonstrations.
To download the information included in this blog check out the following link, Result Demonstrations: A Method that Works.
Special thanks to Jason P. Ott, Kerry Siders, Scott Strawn, Dr. Glen Shinn, Dr. Gary Briers, Dr. Scott Cummings and John Villalba for providing input and guidance for this article.
Blaine, T.W. (2005). Applied Extension Research in an Era of Devolution. Journal of Extension. [On-line], 43(2). Available at: https://www.joe.org/joe/2005april/comm1.php
Griliches, Z. (n.d.). Hybrid corn: An exploration in the economics of technological change.
Hancock, J. (1992).Extension Education: Conducting Effective Agricultural Demonstration. Lexington, KY: Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Rasmussen, W. D. (1989). Taking the university to the people: Seventy-five years of Cooperative Extension. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press.
Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press.
Ryan, B., & Gross, N. C. (1943). The diffusion of hybrid seed corn in two Iowa communities. Rural Sociology 8:15-24.