The potential of experiential learning and skills training of agricultural students: a case of Bukalasa agricultural college
The study was carried out to investigate the potential of experiential learning approaches in the training of agricultural students at Bukalasa Agricultural College (BAC). It was guided by four objectives: to investigate the skills required by employers of agricultural graduates, to characterize the modes of delivery used in the training of students at BAC in relation to experiential learning, to examine the perceptions of the current and past students towards the training approaches at BAC in relation to experiential learning and to determine the best options in training approaches at BAC in relation to experiential learning. The study used a descriptive study design taking both qualitative and quantitative approaches based on a sample of 50 respondents which comprised of the employers, teaching staff, the graduates and continuing students. These were selected using purposeful sampling and stratified random sampling techniques. Data was collected using interviews, observation and questionnaire. The qualitative data was analysed using coding while the quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics after data was entered into the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS verson.17.0). Results indicated the following are the skills required by the employers; technical skills, communication skills, leadership skills, information technology skills, interpersonal skills, team building skills and time management skills. Responses from the employers show that the newly recruited agricultural graduates lack the following skills; leadership skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills and financial management skills. The commonly used mode of delivery teaching staff during the training was lecture. Other modes of delivery used include demonstration, experiments and students projects. The findings revealed that the instructional materials used were inadequate. The respondents ranked internships as being the most useful experiential learning approach. The study concluded that that experiential learning has potential to improve the skill acquisition of the students if it is well plam1ed and monitored by both the lecturers in the tertiary institutions. The study recommends that BAC should continue and reinforce the experiential learning approaches to training based on the positive impact expressed by respondents of this study hence the college should try to implement more experiential learning activities into their daily training activities to increase students ability to learn hands-on skills so that they may be able to use the skills in their future careers and academic advancements.