| Agricultural development workers training manual: Volume II Extension Skills |
|Chapter III: Extension resources|
|HANDOUT IV - 6 - A - The use of the method demonstration as a teaching device|
Principles of learning as applied to the method demonstration.
A method demonstration is an organized system of teaching people how to do a practice or skill. It has been used in many countries since extension first came into existence. The basic principle of the use of this method of teaching people is that the people are taught a skill, one step at a time. It has long been known that people learn more, retain more and learn faster if the information being taught is presented in definite, clear- cut steps, where each single step advances the learner one stage nearer to the completion of the skill.
The sense of hearing
The method demonstration requires a teacher and a learner. This requires a teacher who understands how people learn An understanding of how the senses are employed in learning a skill is basic for the ability to teach. The sense of hearing plays a very useful and important role in learning, but it can easily be pointed out that learning certain skills can take place without the use of this sense. A deaf person can be taught to do most tasks except those requiring the use of the ear to do the job. People have been taught rather complicated skills where the teacher and the learner had no common language ability Thus the sense of hearing is not absolutely essential for some forms of learning. About ten per cent of the skills we learn are attributable to the use of the ear.
Hearing has limits in learning
Imagine how limited your learning would be it hearing was the only one of the five senses you possessed. It is almost impossible for a person to tell another how painful it was when he broke his arm. Could you tell another person the difference between paraffin and petrol? There are more effective methods of teaching than by just telling. Hearing alone is not enough.
The sense of seeing and learning
There is evidence to support the argument that the use of the eyes is not absolute!;, essential to learning, but admittedly, sightlessness is a far greater handicap here than deafness. About 35 per cent of the skills we learn are accomplished through the use of the senses of hearing and seeing. These are not hard and fast figures since individuals vary greatly in the use of these senses. It is definite that the combined use of the two senses serves the learner to greater advantage than the use of either of them separately.
We learn skills best by doing
There is only one way of knowing that a skill has been learned, and that is when the teacher actually sees the learner doing the job that is being taught. The use of the hands (doing), along with the application of hearing and seeing, increases our effectiveness in learning a skill. Seventy- five per cent of all skills learned make use of the senses of hearing, seeing and doing. Some skills may require the sense of taste and smell. We use our sense of taste to determine when milk is souring. We use our sense of smell to distinguish between paraffin and petrol. Obviously, the limitations of the use of these senses arise from any danger coming from this activity. We do not identify poisonous insecticides by taste nor do we detect poisonous gases by smell.
Your subject must be timely.
Before deciding what you will demonstrate. it is a sound practice to be certain the subject meets a few basic requirements. This can be determined by asking yourself first: is the subject timely? It is not time to demonstrate coffee pruning before the tree la planted. It is not time to demonstrate maize harvesting when it has just been planted. It is not timely to teach farmers how to operate tractors when they do not own them, and may not for a long time.
The farmer must need the skill.
The next question to ask yourself' about the subject is: does the farmer need this skill? The feet that you feel the farmer needs to be taught a new method has little bearing on the farmer's opinions. You can say the farmer needs a skill when he has so decided for himself. If you cannot convince him he has a real need for the subject you plan to demonstrate, perhaps it is not time to attempt to demonstrate it.
If he cannot afford it - don't teach it
The third question is: can he afford it? Again, if the farmer does not believe he can afford it he will not adopt your practice. It is only when he can be convinced that he cannot afford to farm without adopting your practice that he will ask you to help him to learn to use the information.
The materials must be available.
There yet remains another question: are the materials available? It is of little use to select the subject of a new hybrid maize to be planted if the seed is not available.
The questions asked about the subject to be demonstrated seem to be elementary but many a demonstration has been doomed to failure before it was started simply because one of these questions could not be answered - Yes.
How to use the method demonstration
It is helpful to think of a demonstration from the standpoint of three periods:
1. Before the meeting.
2. At the meeting.
3. After the meeting.
Careful planning is required for each of these periods.
Before the meeting
In setting up the time for a demonstration, we are not only to think of the hour, the day, the month and the season. There are other considerations about the time. It would not be a good time to give a demonstration when you would run into competition with another meeting, or perhaps a visit to your area by a V.I.P. Such competition would be difficult.
Select the site
In regard to a place for a demonstration the important thing is to be certain that you hay. a satisfactory site at which to hold it. The key point for each consideration in planning a demonstration is to plan ahead. You can be sure to have a site arranged if you take the matter up well ahead of time. Should you request a farmer to use his shamba to hold a maize planting demonstration it would be disappointing to learn he had already planted his maize the day before.
Use a title which attracts an audience
Selecting a title which has an appeal is not always an easy Job, but it deserves thought. You select a book by its title or a magazine by its articles. A farmer may be attracted to a demonstration by a title which appeals to him or her, or he may not attend because it failed to arouse his interest. If you study your audience you can better know what appeals to their interests.
Teach one thing at a time
Your plans should be made to teach the farmer one thing at a time. You will only confuse the issue if you try to cover the entire area of coffee culture in one demonstration. He will remember mast of the details about one phase of coffee culture but he may forget several vital points made at a demonstration given on planting pruning mulching etc. Plan to teach one thing at a time. It is best not to divide a farmer's interests between several phases of an enterprise yet a demonstration must provide a challenge to the farmer if he is to consider it worth his while to attend.
Watch your language
The language to be used at your demonstration may well spell success or doom to your performance. Language is not referred to as meaning only the vernacular you will use but even more important is the choice of words. Plan to use language at the level of your audience's ability. People are not impressed by big words. Why say "di- chloro- di- phenyl- trichlor- ethane" when you mean D.D.T.? The farmer may not even have heard of D.D.T. in which case it would be wise to refer to it as a dawa called D.D.T. Aristotle said: "Think like a wise man but speak in the language of the people". It is the best assurance that you will be understood.
Relate to experience
Whenever possible relate to experience of people. One example of this was heard at a demonstration. In placing fertilizer in a ring around the base of a coffee tree the demonstrator was asked why he did not simply put the fertilizer in one pile. He was able to relate to experience as follows: he refereed to the roots of the tree as the mouth of the tree and said: "when you want food you put food to your mouth. Fertilizer is tree food put the fertilizer to the mouth of the tree - the roots". The farmers understand this kind of talk because it relates to every day experience. A farmer who has lost a large part of his crop to insect damage fully understands the economic importance of a recurrence. Make your comparisons relate to the past experiences of your audience.
Have everything ready
Embarrassing moments may come about at your demonstration because you failed to include an item on your list of materials. You may not be able to get a particular item i! you wait until the last minute. It is possible that the duke* sold the last can of D.D.T. the day before. Plan well ahead to have your materials on hand.
Be ready for questions
Research will assist you to answer the difficult questions asked at your demonstration. Even then someone will ask a Question you had not expected. Gather as much subject information as possible before you give your demonstration. When you are asked questions for which you have no answer, tell the person you do not have an answer. Inform him you will find it and give it to him another time. If you give misinformation, you will soon be found out. You cannot afford to lose prestige by giving incorrect information.
You will avoid making embarrassing mistakes if you will practice your presentation ahead of time. Practice until you become an expert at the skill you are demonstrating. Practice makes perfect - become a perfectionist.
Outline your plan
The purpose of .this whole exercise is to get the demonstrator to develop written plans. Written plans help a demonstrator to stay on the subject. They help him to give the demonstration with greater certainty and proficiency. A good plan causes the demonstrator to complete his demonstration without omitting any steps or key points and to give the same information at each similar demonstration in his location. The strongest support for written plans is that when they are used as guides, each step is given in its logical order. A step is an action by the demonstrator that brings the lob being demonstrated one phase nearer to completion. A key point is information which prevents a step from being improperly done, or that might otherwise ruin the Job. An example of a step is: add two ounces of D.D.T. liquid to four gallons of water. The key point for that step would be: stir the dawa and water to assure a uniform mixture. Unstirred, the mixture would fail to do the job.
At the meeting
We have been thinking of all the things to do before the meeting. Long time planning ahead is the only known method of preparing for the day of the meeting.
On the day of the meeting you should have everything you will need ready to go. All necessary materials should be checked before leaving your home or office so that nothing will be forgotten. You should plan to be at the demonstration site at least twenty minutes before your audience arrives. This will allow you time to arrange your materials In their logical order for the demonstration. Plan for audience comfort. Plan to arrange them so that they can see every action on your part. Demonstrations during the hot weather, when the sun is at its peak are uncalled for and show poor planning. Plan for a cooler part of the day. At the meeting you must show enthusiasm while presenting your demonstration. If you do not appear to be interested and convinced in what you are saying, it is quite likely that your audience will not show Interest either. Act yourself. Appear relaxed during the demonstration; if you have confidence in your ability this will come naturally. Tall: to your audience at all times. There is a difference between talking to an audience and talking at them. An audience being talked to is aware of it. They can feel that they are part of the discussion. Avoid talking to one individual for any length of time. You can soon lose your main audience with such methods. Each member should be made to feel that you are talking to him.
Your audience should be made aware of each individual step as you present it. They should not only clearly understand Just what it is you are showing them, but should also clearly understand the importance of the step to the total demonstration. The questioning technique can often be used to determine if you are being clearly understood. If you will also allow and encourage the audience to ask questions you will find it a useful means of noting your effectiveness in being understood. Each time one of your audience asks a question, repeat the question before you give an answer. First, it assures that each of your audience had an opportunity to hear the question. Secondly, it gives you. time to organize your thinking and give a sound answer. Most people will not ask to have you repeat the question even though they may have been interested Some demonstrators use the technique of having a member of the audience demonstrate his ability to perform a step to give confidence to the group. If one of them can do it, there is less doubt about their own ability to perform what is being demonstrated.
Repeat steps whenever necessary
In testing members of the audience you may find it is necessary to repeat a step. This is considered to be a good teaching technique. Let no one leave your demonstration unable to carry it out at home on his own
Watch for the faster and slower learners
Some members of your audience may be faster in learning the skill than others. When the audience is doing the demonstration, faster learners may be used to teach or assist the slower learners. Use this technique whenever practical.
Give a summary
A brief summary of what you have been demonstrating before you close helps to refresh the audience and sends them away with the sequence of the steps in their proper order. This period also serves to give last minute warnings of any dangers or hazards to avoid. After your summary, encourage any final questions so that none may go away not knowing. Advise them where and how to get further assistance if needed.
Don't fail to advertise your next meeting
Extension workers should take advantage of every group at a meeting or demonstration to announce the next meeting. Even though your next meeting may be on quite a different subject, there is the possibility that some of the audience may contact people who will be interested. If it is to be related to the present demonstration, do not fall to announce that the next meeting will be one further step toward the total Job. Remember, your present audience gives good promise of being your audience in the future, if you are giving a good, well- planned demonstration today. As a parting shot, you may have materials to hand out for today's demonstration, or a short comment about the coming meeting.
After the meeting
Although your demonstration is over for the day, it is not finished. Extension work requires continued evaluation. Your follow- up serves several purposes, one of which is an evaluation of your effort. If you have put on a good demonstration, the farmers should know how to do it. If you have convinced them of the need for practicing the skill you taught them you can expect them to do it on their own farms. If they do nothing to use the practice, the matter needs to be investigated. All of' these things are included in the follow- up.
It is not enough that you have taught him hew to do a practice, he must be motivated to carry it out on his farm. at he lies not adopted it, it may have been:
a. too difficult
b. too costly
d. poorly planned
e. not needed.
Any one of the above situations is reason enough for failure to adopt. Check the farmers so you can check yourself. Determine your short- comings. Correct them and avoid future failures