Soft-systems methodology for action research: the role of a college farm in an agricultural education institution.

Packham, R. G; Ison, R. L. and Roberts, R. J (1988). Soft-systems methodology for action research: the role of a college farm in an agricultural education institution. Agricultural Administration and Extension, 30(2) pp. 109–126.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/0269-7475(88)90120-1

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the definition of the role and purpose of college and university farms in the face of changing socio-economic environments. Features of the particular situation investigated included reduced funding, and major curriculum reform based on concepts of experimential learning.

The Checkland soft-systems methodology was adopted within an action research framework to manage change using a consensus approach.

The outcomes of the research process were twofold. First, there was an improvement in the farms, manifest by increased financial returns, a better working climate and greater use of the farms in the experiential education process. Secondly, the researchers learnt about the use of the Checkland methodology, and how it is able to accommodate purposeful behaviour and issues of power. Such dual outcomes are a feature of action research.

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