Thomas, Jason Larry (2017-05). Entomology Extension Education: Determining Competency Differences in Learning Approaches for Sugarcane Aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Agricultural extension services have long held the role of disseminating and streamlining education about emerging research to serve the public's needs. Accomplishing this mission can be done through varying presentation methods. The goal of this study was to determine if there are differences in post-training performance between professional demonstrational video productions and slideshow presentations, two common extension practices. Using the current issue of the invasive species, sugarcane aphid [Melanaphis sacchari (Zehntner)] on sorghum, training materials were developed to provide south Texas clientele outreach educational opportunities around identification of the pest and estimating populations, two key skills necessary to manage this pest. Audiences gathered from areas of southern Texas were pre-evaluated in their ability to accomplish these two tasks, then they viewed either the video or slideshow training. Both skills were then re-evaluated to determine learning differences. The numerical trends for both groups suggested improvement off skills. The overall results showed a significant change for the better in the ability of participants who viewed the demonstrational training video to estimate closer to actual pest densities. The same was not found for the slideshow group, though it had a similar trend. Nevertheless, when scores were compared between the two groups there was no significant difference. The value of demonstrational training videos is that they can be viewed multiple times, typically have a shorter viewing time, but they require greater investment from extension personnel. The value of slideshow presentations is that they require minimal investment from extension personnel, but they cannot be easily re-viewed and typically require greater time investment from learners. The results also reveal the tendency of managers to underestimate pest densities and the difficulty of the tasks which are expected of pest managers. Additional training opportunities like hands-on training are warranted to further improve performance.

publication date

  • May 2017