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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Educational role of the District Agriculturist. McNaughton, Gordon Roy


The educational aspect of the work of the District Agriculturist is not well defined. The problem was to develop a system of defining, measuring and portraying the educational work of agricultural extension that would be considerably more meaningful than present day attendance records, would relate quality to the quantity of work, would enable extensiveness of use of the extension service to be related to socio-economic characteristics of farmers and would enable the testing of the hypothesis that socioeconomic characteristics differ between extensive and nominal users of the service. The work of one District Agriculturist in the Peace River Extension District in Northern Alberta, Canada was studied for the period of one year, March 1968 to March 1969. All individual and group contacts were recorded and classified according to function of the contact, instructional level achieved, method employed and time involved. Two hundred farmers were interviewed regarding certain socioeconomic characteristics. A numerical score indicating extensiveness of use was related to socio-economic characteristics using Chi-square, T test and correlation procedures. The measurement system developed for the study was found to be operational and yielded considerably more information than common annual reports and could be a basis for evaluation. It was found that the extension agent accomplished his work by making a large number of face to face contacts with about a third of the potential clientele. About half of the contacts were educational and most of these were at the lower instructional levels. Group contacts reached higher instructional levels than individual contacts and farm visits reached higher levels than office visits. The small group meeting was found to be superior to other methods. Extensiveness of use of the service was found to be more meaningful when instructional quality of the contacts was considered rather than numbers of contacts. Little difference was found relating age, education, tenure, experience and area of farm to extensiveness of use. Extensive users of the service were found to have spent significantly less time at off farm work and earned a significantly greater proportion of their income from the farm. They had significantly greater capital assets and significantly higher gross sales than the nominal users indicating that extensive users of the extension service differed significantly from nominal users of the service with respect to certain socio-economic characteristics. The description of the educational role of the District Agriculturist relating quantity, quality, extensiveness of use and socio-economic characteristics, contains information that would lead to more accurate determination of program priorities and would be a useful measure of achievement on a regional basis.

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