Communication is an activity much taken for granted.Extension education is essentially a process of communication. Communication ofideas and skills between and among people. Ability to communicate determines toa very large extent the success or failure of an extension worker. This topic –communication in extension –is the topic of discussion in this post.

After studying this, you should be able to:

·explain clearly the term‘communication’

·discuss, vividly the communicationmodels

·outline briefly the components ofcommunication process.

The Meaning of Communication

The word communication is abstract and possessesnumerous meanings.

According to Clevenger (1991), it is inconceivablethat any person cannot communicate. The process of communication is fundamentalto extension, training and passing on information. Thus learning processes, thedissemination of innovations or social change cannot be explained withoutreference to communication.

Communication can be given a broad and inclusive or arestrictive definition. It can also be seen in the light of communication aslinked to or not linked to intention and judgment.

Communication can be defined as:

  1. The means ofsending messages
  2. Thetransmission of information
  3. That situationin which a source transmits a message to a receiver with conscious intent toaffect the latter’s behaviours.
  4. The verbalinterchange of thoughts or ideas
  5. The processthat links discontinuous parts of the living world together
  6. A process thatmakes common to two or several what was the monopoly of one or some.

Extension services are essentially communicative(Akeredolu and Ajayi, 1995). The ultimate aim of an extension system is toeffectively deliver information to end-users in a comprehensible and utilizablemanner.

Extension services bear great potentials for improvingthe productivity of natural resources and promoting the right attitudes amongnatural resource managers (Adebayo and Adedoyin, 2003). The service is recognizedas essential mechanism for delivering information and advice as input intomodern natural resource management. The structures and institutions engaged inextension services encompass a diverse range of socially sanctioned andlegitimate activities that seek to improve the ability of natural resourcemanagers to adopt more appropriate and often new practices and to adjust tochanging conditions and societal needs (Jones and Garforth, 1997).

Communication always occurs in context, that is, in asetting or situation. As such, the context of communication can be divided theoreticallyin a variety of useful ways. One such approach is; divide the fieldvocationally into categories like health communication, business andprofessional communication and instructional communication (Littlejohn, 1999).Communication can be divided along the lines of the level of involvement oftechnologies as unaided or aided communication. Often, interculturalcommunication is distinguished from intra-cultural communication.

The most common division of communication is along thelines of the number of actors involved in the communication scenario (Adebayo, 1987;Bittner, 1989; Littlejohn, 1999). In this case, communication can beintrapersonal (involving only one person), interpersonal (dealing with face-to-face,private settings), group (relating to interaction of people in small groups,sometimes in decision making settings), organizational (occurring in largecooperative networks) and mass (dealing with public communication, usuallymediated).


  1. What is the useof communication in extension?
  2. Dividecommunication along the lines of the numbers of actors involved in thecommunication scenario.

Elements of the Communication Process

Let us compare two situations:

  1. I have a coinin my hand and I want to give it to someone else. I do this simply by puttingit in the other person’s hand. Note that the coin does not change, that theother person’s hand was empty before I gave him the coin, and that my hand isempty after I have given it to him.
  2. I have an ideathat I wish to pass on to someone else. Is this any different from passing acoin? We think the following differences are important:
    1. ideas do notbecome scarce. I can give away ideas without having fewer myself.
    1. the receiver’shead is not empty before I gave him the idea. On the contrary, his existingideas help him to appreciate my idea and to include it with his own;
    1. a coin does notchange when it is passed to another person, but an idea does. An idea existsonly in the human mind and cannot be transferred physically like a coin.

We can draw the following conclusion from thiscomparison of passing a coin or an idea: the process consist of six essentialelements

These elements provide the building blocks from whichall models of communication are drawn (Adedoyin, 1989; Lither, 1989; Adebayo, 1997;Littlejohn, 1999) they are:

  1. Source/sender
  2. Message
  3. Channel/medium
  4. Receiver
  5. Effect, and
  6. Feedback

A basic model of the communicationprocess

The source or sender is the individual or a groupworking together or an institution responsible for initiating communication andensuring that the objectives of the exercise are clearly defined and achieved.In addition, the source must strive to update his knowledge through training,subject matter wise, as well as in the methodologies of communication itself.

The message is the stimuli or idea that the sourcetransmits. Messages must be clear, useful to the audience, relevant to theenvironment and timely with respect to their livelihood activities. Message contentshould be relevant to the receiver; this implies that the message sent must be technicallyfeasible, economically beneficial and acceptable with respect to the norms andvalues of the society.

Messages in extension communication bear particularcharacteristics which may enhance or hinder their acceptability by the targetaudience (Adebayo, 1977; Adedoyin, 1989; Adebayo et al., 2002). These characteristics are:

  1. Relativeadvantage- The degree to which an idea or technological innovation is perceivedas being better than the one it seeks to replace
  2. Compatibility-The extent to which an idea or message is in line with prevailing or pastsocio-cultural values and beliefs.
  3. Complexity-Thedegree to which an idea or message is perceived as relatively difficult to useand understand.
  4. Trial ability/divisibility- The extent to which an innovation can be experimented with onlimited scale
  5. Observability-The degree to which the results of an innovation or message content are visibleto others
  6. Risk level- Theextent to which an idea or message is perceived to expose the receiver tovulnerability due to failure.

A channel or medium is the means by which a messagetravels from the source to the receiver. The human senses (sight, hearing,touch, taste and feeling) make up the most common means of exchanging ideas.The methods include visual and oral, spoken and written. The more senses employedin the communication process, the greater the chance that it is understood.

The receiver is the target or audience of communication.The audience are those whom the source/sender wishes to receive, understand anduse the idea. In extension communication it is important that the receiver of eachmessage be clearly defined and segregated into homogenous groups for effectivecommunication. If the audience is to make progress, the extension teachersomehow helps them to change their knowledge, attitude or behaviour. If nochange takes place there has been no communication – no progress. Goodextension teaching requires a thorough study of audience. This means theirabilities, backgrounds, interests and previous accomplishments. The more weknow about the audience, the better job of teaching we can do.

The effect of the communication is felt when thereceiver decodes the message (attaches meaning to the symbols) and develops anidea in his mind which he may or may not use. Feedback is the response from thereceiver to the source of the message. Feedback is a control device and animportant indicator of the success of communication as well as areas requiringmodification and further enquiry.


  1. List thecomponents of a basic model of the communication process.
  2. Enumerate onthe characteristics of messages in extension communication.


In this unit you have learnt the meaning ofcommunication and the important elements that comprises the communicationprocess. Other areas discussed here include communication models and itscomparison.

From these discussions, you now know thatcommunication is something we encounter every day in our lives.


The main points in this unit are:

  • The process ofcommunication is fundamental to extension, training and passing on information.
  • In general,communication can be defined as:
    • The means ofsending messages
    • Thetransmission of information
    • That situationin which a source transmits a message to a receiver with conscious intent toaffect the latter’s behavior
    • The verbalinterchange of thoughts or ideas
    • The processthat links discontinuous parts of the living world together
    • A process thatmakes common to two or several what was the monopoly of one or some.
  • Thecommunication process consists of six important elements, they include:-
  • Source/sender
  • Message
  • Channel/medium
  • Receiver
  • Effect and
  • Feedback


  1. Explain what ismeant by the term “Communication”.
  2. Discuss brieflythe various communication models.
  3. Explain vividlythe various elements of communication process.


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