Farmer learning behaviour : a case of the student-to-farmer university outreach of Gulu University in Uganda
Kalule, Wamala Stephen
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Globally, a dominant discourse on policy reforms for the higher education sector has called for universities to prioritize community outreach services. However, concerns exist in student outreach formats that they might not be yielding the desired community-level learning. A cross-sectional study on 283 host farmers of the student-to-farmer outreach of Gulu University was used to examine the influence of psychosocial factors on farmer learning behaviour. Specifically, the study: 1) analyzed contextual factors that determine differences in the elements of farmer learning behavior; 2) assessed the influence of facilitating conditions on farmer learning behavior; 3) assessed the influence of motivational factors on farmer learning behaviour; and 4) assessed the social cognitive drivers of farmer learning behaviour. The study used Kruskal-Wallis test to analyze contextual determinants of differences in the elements of farmer learning behavior while structural equation modelling was used to analyze psychosocial factors influencing farmer learning behavior in the student-to-farmer University outreach. Results show significant differences in the elements of learning behaviour of knowledge sharing [χ2 (2) = 8.5; P < 0.05] and giving feedback [χ2 (2) = 7.6; P < 0.05] for farmstead distance from the university and experience in student outreach amongst host farmers. Further, Friedman test results reveal preferential perceptions for the student outreach program compared to public extension and non-public extension. Results further show that the most important and positive facilitating condition for farmer learning behaviour was faculty supervision support to students (β = .182; P<0.05). For motivational factors, satisfaction of relatedness learning needs (β = .228; P< 0.05) and the formation of learning intentions (β = .233; P< 0.01) were the positive and significant predictors of farmer learning behaviour. Lastly, social cognitive factors that positively and significantly influenced farmer learning behaviour were perceived social outcome expectations (β = .372; P < 0.01) and social influence (β = .227; P< 0.05). The study concludes that farmstead distance to the university together with farmer experience in student outreach determine differences in farmer learning behaviour. Furthermore, faculty supervision support to students, satisfying relatedness learning needs, favourable social outcome expectations and social influence positively impact farmer learning behaviour. The study recommends more logistical support to faculty staff for effective supervision of student outreach activities for enhanced learning at grassroots. This study contributes to existing knowledge by providing a deeper understanding of farmer learning behaviour using data and concepts drawn from student outreach formats.