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Training and Professional Development Essay

Training is the process of acquiring specific skills to perform a job better (Jucious, 1963). It helps people to become qualified and proficient in doing some jobs (Dahama, 1979). Usually an organization facilitates the employees’ learning through training so that their modified behaviour contributes to the attainment of the organization’s goals and objectives. Van Dersal (1962) defined training as the process of teaching, informing, or educating people so that (1) they may become as well qualified as possible to do their job, and (2) they become qualified to perform in positions of greater difficulty and responsibility.

Flippo (1961) differentiated between education and training, locating these at the two ends of a continuum of personnel development ranging from a general education to specific training. While training is concerned with those activities which are designed to improve human performance on the job that employees are at present doing or are being hired to do, education is concerned with increasing general knowledge and understanding of the total environment.

Education is the development of the human mind, and it increases the powers of observation, analysis, integration, understanding, decision making, and adjustment to new situations. Learning theories and training Learning theories are the basic materials which are usually applied in all educational and training activities. The more one understands learning theories, the better he or she will be able to make decisions and apply them to achieving the objectives.

The behaviourists, the cognitivists, and the humanists emphasize different aspects of the teaching-learning process in their approaches. While the behaviourists stress external conditions (environment) resulting in observations and measurable changes in behaviour, the cognitivists are more concerned with how the mind works (mental processes such as coding, categorizing, and representing information in memory). The humanists, on the other hand, emphasize the affective aspects (e. g. , emotions, attitudes) of human behaviour that influence learning (IRRI, 1990).

In extension systems, effective training must be able to take care of all the theories of learning in order to change the action, belief, and knowledge components of a trainee simultaneously. Andragogy (a theory of adult learning) is usually used rather than pedagogy (a theory of child learning) in extension training. Training approach There are three approaches to training: (1) the traditional approach, (2) the experiential approach, and (3) the performance-based approach (Rama, Etling, & Bowen, 1993).

In the traditional approach, the training staff designs the objectives, contents, teaching techniques, assignments, lesson plans, motivation, tests, and evaluation. The focus in this model is intervention by the training staff. In the experiential approach, the trainer incorporates experiences where in the learner becomes active and influences the training process. Unlike the academic approach inherent in the traditional model, experiential training emphasizes real or simulated situations in which the trainees will eventually operate.

In this model, the objectives and other elements of training are jointly determined by the trainers and trainees. Trainers primarily serve as facilitators, catalysts, or resource persons. In the performance-based approach to training, goals are measured through attainment of a given level of proficiency instead of passing grades of the trainees. Emphasis is given to acquiring specific observable skills for a task. This performance-based teacher education (PBTE) model, developed by Elam (1971), is mostly task or skill centred and is also applicable to nonformal educational organizations such as extension.

Extension personnel around the world in need of training Worldwide, there are currently more than 600,000 extension workers comprised of administrative staff, subject-matter specialists (SMS), fieldworkers, and some multipurpose unidentified people; the Asian and Pacific countries have absorbed more than 70 per cent of them (Bahal, Swanson, & Earner, 1992). The percentage of extension personnel by position, as reported by Swanson, Earner, and Bahal (1990), was 7 per cent administrative, 14 per cent SMS, and 79 per cent field staff, with regional differences.

Almost 13 per cent of extension workers are women, with significant regional differences (Bahal et al. , 1992). The ratio of SMS to field staff is also low in Asia, Africa, the Near East, and Latin American countries, varying from about 1:11 to 1:14. The ratio for countries of Europe and North America varies from 1:1. 5 to 1:1. 6. The worldwide ratio of SMS to field staff is 1:11. 5 (Swanson et al. , 1990). Deficiencies in knowledge, skills, and ability among extension personnel, particularly those of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, are remarkable.

About 39 per cent of the extension personnel worldwide have a secondary-level and 33 per cent an intermediate-level education (Bahal et al. , 1992). Moreover, within each region, there is a lot of variation in basic academic qualifications of the frontline extension workers, SMS, and administrators. Differences in training received are also wide. In Africa, most frontline extension workers still have only a secondary school diploma (Bahal et al. , 1992). The poor educational background of extension personnel necessitates regular training. Types of training

Training may broadly be categorized into two types: preservice training and inservice training. Preservice training is more academic in nature and is offered by formal institutions following definite curricula and syllabuses for a certain duration to offer a formal degree or diploma. Inservice training, on the other hand, is offered by the organization from time to time for the development of skills and knowledge of the incumbents. Preservice Training Preservice training is a process through which individuals are made ready to enter a certain kind of professional job such as agriculture, medicine, or engineering.

They have to attend regular classes in a formal institution and need to complete a definite curriculum and courses successfully to receive a formal degree or diploma. They are not entitled to get a professional job unless they can earn a certificate, diploma, or degree from the appropriate institution. Preservice training contents emphasize mostly technical subject matter such as crops, animal husbandry, and fisheries as well as pedagogical skills to prepare the students to work in agriculture.

In general two types of preservice training are available for agricultural staff. These are (1) degree level (at least a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or related field), which is usually offered for four years by a university or agricultural college; and (2) diploma level, which is mostly offered by the schools of agriculture for a period of two to three years. The entry point for the former is normally twelve years of schooling and for the latter ten years of schooling. Inservice Training and Staff Development

Inservice training is a process of staff development for the purpose of improving the performance of an incumbent holding a position with assigned job responsibilities. It promotes the professional growth of individuals. “It is a program designed to strengthen the competencies of extension workers while they are on the job” (Malone, 1984, p. 209). Inservice training is a problem-centred, learner-oriented, and time-bound series of activities which provide the opportunity to develop a sense of purpose, broaden perception of the clientele, and increase capacity to gain knowledge and mastery of techniques.

Inservice training may broadly be categorized into five different types: (1) induction or orientation training, (2) foundation training, (3) on-the-job training, (4) refresher or maintenance training, and (5) career development training. All of these types of training are needed for the proper development of extension staff throughout their service life. Induction or Orientation Training. Induction training is given immediately after employment to introduce the new extension staff members to their positions.

It begins on the first day the new employee is on the job (Rogers & Olmsted, 1957). This type of training is aimed at acquainting the new employee with the organization and its personnel. Induction training for all new personnel should develop an attitude of personal dedication to the service of people and the organization. This kind of training supplements whatever preservice training the new personnel might have had (Halim and Ali, 1988). Concerning the characteristics of a new employee.

Van Dersal (1962) said that when people start to work in an organization for the first time, they are eager to know what sort of outfit they are getting into, what they are supposed to do, and whom they will work with. They are likely to be more attentive and open-minded than experienced employees. In fact, the most favourable time for gaining employees’ attention and for moulding good habits among them is when they are new to the job. Foundation Training. Foundation training is inservice training which is also appropriate for newly recruited personnel.

Besides technical competence and routine instruction about the organization, every staff member needs some professional knowledge about various rules and regulations of the government, financial transactions, administrative capability, communication skills, leadership ability, coordination and cooperation among institutions and their linkage mechanism, report writing, and so on. Foundation training is made available to employees to strengthen the foundation of their service career. This training is usually provided at an early stage of service life. Maintenance or Refresher Training.

This training is offered to update and maintain the specialized subject-matter knowledge of the incumbents. Refresher training keeps the specialists, administrators, subject-matter officers, extension supervisors, and frontline workers updated and enables them to add to the knowledge and skills they have already. Maintenance or refresher training usually deals with new information and new methods, as well as review of older materials. This type of training is needed both to keep employees at the peak of their possible production and to prevent them from getting into a rut (Van Dersal, 1962). On-the-Job Training.

This is ad hoc or regularly scheduled training, such as fortnightly training under the training and visit (T&V) system of extension, and is provided by the superior officer or the subject-matter specialists to the subordinate field staff. This training is generally problem or technology oriented and may include formal presentations, informal discussion, and opportunities to try out new skills and knowledge in the field. The superior officer, administrator, or subject-matter specialist of each extension department must play a role in providing on-the-job training to the staff while conducting day-to-day normal activities.

Career or Development Training. This type of in-service training is designed to upgrade the knowledge, skills, and ability of employees to help them assume greater responsibility in higher positions. The training is arranged departmentally for successful extension workers, at all levels, for their own continuing education and professional development. Malone (1984) opined that extension services that provide the opportunity for all staff to prepare a plan for career training will receive the benefits of having longer tenured and more satisfied employees, which increases both the effectiveness and efficiency of an extension service.

Malone stated that “career development is the act of acquiring information and resources that enables one to plan a program of lifelong learning related to his or her worklife” (p. 216). Although extension workers are responsible for designing their own career development education, the extension organization sometimes sets some criteria and provides opportunities for the staff by offering options. Phases of training Training is a circular process that begins with needs identification and after a number of steps ends with evaluation of the training activity.

A change or deficiency in any step of the training process affects the whole system, and therefore it is important for a trainer to have a clear understanding about all phases and steps of the training process. In the broadest view, there are three phases of a training process: planning, implementation, and evaluation. Planning Phase The planning phase encompasses several activities, two of which – training needs identification and curriculum development – are very important. Training Needs Identification.

Training need is a condition where there is a gap between “what is” and “what should be” in terms of incumbents’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviour for a particular situation at one point in time. This gap is called “a problem,” which usually occurs when a difference exists between “desired performance” and “actual performance. ” The needs identification process assists trainers in making sure that they have matched a training programme to a training problem. For example, agricultural extension officers (AEOs) have been giving training to village extension workers (VEWs), but performance of the VEWs is not improving.


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