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BLOG – 44: Negotiating Reality: A pragmatic approach for conducting quality extension research

Extension scientists are often under stress due to the demotivating work environment and lack of technical guidance from the professional societies. But still one can conduct quality research in extension by following a pragmatic approach, argues, Dr P Sethuraman Sivakumar

 

P. Sethuraman Sivakumar is Senior Scientist, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (ICAR-CTCRI) Sreekariyam, Thiruvananthapuram – 695017, Kerala, India.
Email: sethu_73@fulbrightmail.org

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  • Nirmala Guddanti I agree with your view on mastering creative thinking and writing at the PG/PhD level. As you said, the classrooms in US are bit different from India while the Teacher-Student relationship vastly differs. There is no Guru – Sishya system there as the student can comment/ criticize the teacher anytime and has the liberty to discuss anything related to academics in the class. It will be a hard task to teach US students and the teacher has to be extra-ordinary to meet the demands. Besides, US classes are discussion-oriented as the curriculum, power points of classes, support materials are posted in the portal well-in advance (prior to the semester) and the student comes to the class after reading those materials. There is ample room for critical discussion and creative interpretation. However, the situation is vastly different in India. I believe that clarity of concepts is a pre-requisite for creative thinking. In India, the extension concepts are taught in discussion mode i.e. deriving meanings after reading several definitions. I guess it always leads to confusion. In general, the definitions are context based, and the extension researchers derive a composite meaning of a concept (e.g. judges rating for scale construction), rather than using a simple and relevant form. As a result, an uni-dimensional construct transforms into a multi-dimensional leading to confusion. A last hurdle is the mastery over language. Creative thinking and writing are often guided by the student competency developed during school days. It would be easy for Americans to elaborate and produce creative writing, but it would be difficult for Indian students to follow the same system.

  • Extension science need to adapt creative writing and thinking which is remote skill with many of us.This need to be inculcated from PG studies onwards. Based on my experience at cornell universty USA, PG students read atleast 100 -150 pages on subject which might be in form of original research papers ,books , articles as suggested by course teacher and other literature before the class and start discussing the various issues and opinons of authors raised and later suggest something new out of it.this is wonderful exercise for creative thinking anf building upon new knowledge. and also avoid plagiarism.

  • Visiting Scholar (Raman Post Doc Fellow), Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education, College of Agriculture and Life sciences,Litton Reaves Hall,Virginia Tech University, USA Very good article by Sethuraman. Yes.we have difficulty but we can do it.I appeal for good research in Extension with collaboration .If we can not contribute to science and society definitely we are going to loose the discipline, That happened in many countries.Lets try hard for our profession,society and for our students who will carry the light forward.If necessary we have to change ourselves through time,need and situation.How ever ,we have to keep this discipline healthy in the time to come .This is what I understand

  • Dr. Sethuraman comes up with yet another excellent blog on this important topic. Having interacted with him, I am not surprised at the depth, breadth and quality of the treatment given to the content in this blog. AESA has published a series of blogs on this theme and each one has added value to our understanding of the subject. In fact, I would say that these recent AESA blogs have come as a really fresh air to the discontent that we all have been feeling. Thanks to Dr. Sethuraman and AESA, and also to previous authors of blogs on this topic like Dr. R.M. Prasad, to not only highlighting and explaining what ails extension research, but also dwelling on practical ways of how to overcome it. Yes, I too liked sections on explore opportunities to conduct research in any mandated activity and explore opportunities for collaborative multi – disciplinary research most useful. It is easy to blame the system and colleagues from other disciplines for not understanding extension research, but, this does not relieve us from our responsibility to create space for doing meaningful and useful research in the conceptual scheme of things within the mandated activity. From my experience as an extension scientist, I think, this is something which should be taught to young extension scholars, may be at Ph.D.! Examples given by Dr. Sethuraman illustrate how to do it in a given setting. I Congratulate him for this excellent effort and wish we have more like him to take the message forward. ..

  • Congrats to Dr. Sivakumar for an excellent blog. I may suggest the following which also can be considered. 1. Besides the six different settings, I feel that field research in community supported agriculture system , mostly sponsored by Local Self Government Institutions (LSGIs) could also be a good setting, as in the case of Kerala. 2. There is scope for conducting research on process documentation on development of technical skills, soft skills, etc 3. There is ample scope for linking various concepts related to educational technology, adult education, etc with extension research, which can enrich the knowledge base.

  • Thanks Dr Sethuraman sir for an excellent blog..Hope we have lot many lessons to be learnt out of this blog since you have covered all the sections like research,statistics,societies etc..I suggest all my young professionals also to go through each word of this blog..

  • I should say it is one of the most pragmatic blogs published at AESA portal, at least for extension scientists. Many of us often wander what research to do, where it can be published, how we can enhance/improve chances of getting published in high rated journals, often demotivating/disappointing ourselves. Some of us are also trying to fit our work as per the mandates of journals having high rating irrespective of the mandate of the institute we are working at. I found the section, explore opportunities to conduct research in any mandated activity especially useful as it explains how we can add a lot of value to our work well within the mandated activities. It has also explained well the scenario with extension societies, lacking professionalism. Congratulations Dr Sethuraman, for this excellent blog. I wish many of our colleagues go through it fully.