Title

Experiential learning and productivity: Prior experience, reflective practice, deliberate practice and farmers' productivity in Senegal

Date of Completion

January 2001

Keywords

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Agricultural

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Professional development is usually pursued by providing adult professionals with opportunities to learn and update their knowledge and skills that will increase their productivity. Farmers representing 75% of the workforce in Senegal need to acquire and update farming skills through engagement in experiential learning. Productivity increase can be the result of engaging in an efficient experiential learning process. This study addressed the question of how can experiential learning activities increase farmers' productivity in Senegal. As a first step this study explored the ways and extent to which prior experience, reflective practice and deliberate practice are related to framers' productivity in Senegal, when conventional input variables (seed, labor and fertilizer) are added as moderating variables. ^ Kolb's experiential learning model provided support for the theoretical rationale of this study. A sample of 158 Senegalese farmers, who grow peanut and millet crops, participated in the study. Data were collected through individual interviews. ^ Results indicated that experiential learning variables (prior experience, reflective practice and deliberate practice) contributed less than conventional input variables (seed, labor) to farmers' productivity. Experiential learning variables are often negatively related to farmers' productivity. ^ Other results also indicated that engagement in experiential learning always requires the involvement of similar others. Further effective experiential learning that leads to productivity increase is determined by personal characteristics such as ability to engage in active learning and self-beliefs in internal forces. ^ Active learning is pursued through trial and error (28.1%), and discussions with other farmers, (22.9%), which are the ways of learning cited by the more productive farmers. ^ Self-beliefs of internal forces also had a positive impact on high productivity for both peanut (d = .76) and millet (d = .56). Furthermore self-beliefs of internal forces also had a positive effect on reflective practice (d = 1.08) and deliberate practice (d = .51) ^ This study is of importance for Senegalese economy. In Senegal, farmers constitute 75% of the working population. In contrast to their important proportion, farming contributes only for 22% of the NGP. Findings of this study would provide directions to adult education specialists especially extensions agents for better practice. ^