Action research: A practical step-by-step guide for Agricultural Extension Professionals.
Agricultural extension professionals lag behind their counterparts in research and training institutions with regard to conducting research and generating new knowledge. This is mainly because conventional research methods are not appropriate for field practitioners whose main preoccupation is improving livelihoods of farming communities. However the success of field extensionists depends on their ability to identify and exploit opportunities for improvement. Therefore, they need research methods and approaches that enable them to generate reliable data and information which they can use to solve farmers’ problems. Given that the role of extension is basically to ensure that farmers have appropriate knowledge and skills, there is need to continuously find out whether farmers indeed have appropriate knowledge and skills. There is need to find out whether farmers apply appropriate knowledge and skills and reasons why they may not be applying appropriate knowledge and skills. Based on the findings, the extensionists will be able to identify the action required to improve upon the existing situation. This calls for knowledge and skills in action oriented research. This paper provides simple, easy to follow, step-by-step guidelines which should be suitable for many situations in extension research – whether one is researching adoption of an enterprise, an extension approach or the functioning of a farmer organization. The guidelines are based on experience acquired from in-service, custom-made, degree programmes for midcareer extension professionals.