Field practical training is a requirement for all students who enrol in any program in the Botswana College of Agriculture, as it has been discovered that, experiential learning complements theoretical classroom teaching. The effectiveness of Field Practical Training (FPT) for competence acquisition among students was examined through a descriptive survey. A simple random sampling technique was used to select 71 students out of those that participated in FPT in 2008 and data on their personal characteristics and their perceived competence of agricultural tasks before and after FPT were collected with a structured questionnaire and analysed using frequency counts percentages and t-test statistics. Results showed that a majority of the respondents were males, between the ages of 20 to 24 years and were pre-service students. The level of competence among students changed from not competent to competent in 31 out of the 47 tasks. Students also reported that they were competent before undergoing the FPT programme in 12 tasks and the rating was retained as well after FPT. On the other hand, students reported that they were not competent before and even after undergoing the FPT programme in four of the agricultural practical skills examined. The results of paired t-test showing comparison before and after FPT among students showed that, significant differences were found among 32 tasks with students having higher competence mean score after the FPT training than the score before the training. The study recommends that, established farms should be used for the programme and students should be posted to farms that will enhance their skill development for the area of the academic programme specialisation.
Key words: Field practical training, agricultural tasks, experiential learning, skill acquisition, Botswana.
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