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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of role perception and performance among agricultural extension personnel in Nova Scotia Morehouse, Ralph Ernest

Abstract

This thesis is a study of the roles of agricultural extension workers in Nova Scotia based on the workers views of their particular jobs. An attempt is made to identify the various activities of the workers, find out who determines their program and if they are doing the things they think they should be doing. The data for the study was obtained from responses to a questionnaire by three types of workers -Agricultural Representatives, Home Economics Representatives and Subject Matter Specialists who are permanently employed by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing. The three types of workers agree that they are conforming to their expected roles but there are certain areas within the general scope of their work where they would like to change emphasis. The guidelines set up when the agricultural extension service was established in 1926 still apply today although there have been changes in methods and additions to staff. All workers agreed that they had not received adequate training in their formal education to do the specific tasks required by their job but they felt competent on the basis of the training they have and the experience gained. They feel programs in in-service training can best help them overcome deficiencies in past training. Agricultural Representatives and Subject Matter Specialists base their programs on needs identified by themselves and organized groups of farmers while Home Economics Representatives tend to determine their own program with some indication that farm women should have more effect on their program plans. While the Agricultural Representative wants to plan programs based on needs in his area, the Subject Matter Specialist would tolerate province-wide programs designed to increase the overall agricultural production. Agricultural Representatives and Subject Matter Specialists work mainly with those farmers having relatively high gross incomes since these are generally the ones who are most able to follow recommended practices. Home Economics Representatives work mainly with farm families where there is a low gross income and with non-farm groups. All workers generally agree that 'job security', 'freedom' in program planning, the 'satisfying experience' of doing extension work, the 'recognition' they get for their work, their 'office facilities' and the 'prestige' of their position are important reasons why they like their job. They do not like administering policies, the many night meetings and the fact that they have little chance to 'specialize'. The workers believe they have a very good relationship with farm people and organizations but they feel they can do their best job by being better acquainted with individuals and getting their support for programs. There is a fair degree of role concensus among the three types of workers but because of differences in their jobs they differ in some areas of role perception. There is general agreement of the importance of their roles as applied to functions of the extension service. Their present performance is based on tradition as well as direction from above and, except for a few instances, they want to change their role performance. This is indicated most strongly as they perform the roles of 'student', 'administrator', 'organizer of events', 'organizer of groups', 'consultant', 'program planner', 'program evaluator', 'public relations officer', 'trainer of leaders' and 'service agent'. They would especially increase the time they spend on 'public relations', 'program evaluation' and 'program planning'. The Agricultural Representative would spend less time in his role as a 'source of information' while the other workers would spend more time on this role. 'Farm visits' by extension workers and 'demonstrations' are the best methods of communicating new ideas to farmers according to Agricultural Representatives and Subject Matter Specialists. Least effective are 'commercial sources', 'newspapers', 'telephone calls' and 'circular letters'.

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