The Relevance of Basic Sciences and Common Technical Courses in Undergraduate Agricultural Curricula in Kenya
AbstractAchieving balance between basic sciences, extension methodology and technical subject matter in the pre-service curriculum for agricultural extension staff has been a challenge in the process of curriculum reform. This study sought to determine the adequacy of basic sciences and common technical courses in the undergraduate agricultural curricula through a training needs analysis of 440 extension staff in the public and private agricultural extension service sector. The study also explored differences in training needs between Front line Extension Worker (FEW) and Subject Matter Specialists (SMS). A crosssectional survey was used and training need were determined and prioritized using Borich’s Needs Discrepancy Model (BNDM) using a Mean Weighted Discrepancy Score (MWDS). The basic sciences with the highest training needs were Basic Computer applications, Research Methods and Seminars while the common technical courses with the highest training need were Agricultural Law, Financial and Human resource management and Rural Development. In the basic sciences only Basic computer applications yielded significant differences between the training needs of Public and Private extension agents and between FEW and SMS. Significant differences in the MWDS ratings of Public and Private Extension Agents were obtained in; Agricultural Economics, Principles of Marketing, Engineering/Technical Drawing and Workshop Technology. Respondents from the Public sector had higher MWDS ratings indicating greater training needs than those from the Private sector. Between FEW and SMS, Field Attachment, Engineering/Technical drawing and Extension Education courses were significantly different. All the basic and common technical courses had positive MWDS warranting their inclusion in the undergraduate agriculture curricula. This also implies that there is need to review the content and instructional methodology to ensure the relevance of these courses as core prerequisites that provide basic information and foster critical skills necessary to the understanding of technical courses in the various areas of specialization in agriculture.
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