As Extension educators, it is a professional obligation to stay abreast of research related to Extension methodologies to ensure we are implementing best practices associated with Extension programming. One of the areas of scholarly inquiry that should be carefully evaluated is the characteristics and motivation factors of effective committee members.
In 2011, Teresa Spearman at North Carolina State University conducted a Delphi study to determine the characteristics and motivation factors of effective Extension Advisory Leaders. Committees, Leadership Advisory Boards, Coalitions, Youth Boards and Extension Advisory groups provide necessary input to ensure that Extension programs are relevant and responsive to local needs and/or issues.
The purpose of this study conducted with North Carolina Extension was to explore characteristics and motivational factors of effective Extension Advisory leaders for identifying, motivating, recruiting, retaining, and training effective Extension advisory leaders. This study answers the following research questions (Spearman, 2011):
The following questions were asked of the County Extension Directors (Spearman, 2011):
The responses received for round one were summarized and developed into an online survey for round two (Spearman, 2011). The researcher summarized participant’s answers and organized them into like categories (Spearman, 2011). During round two, participants the researcher asked the participants to review the list and rate listed responses on a five-point Likert scale with one being not important and five being extremely important (Spearman, 2011).
Round three was utilized to verify consensus (Spearman, 2011). When consensus was reached after round three, no additional questions were posed to the participants (Spearman, 2011).
In this installment of Next Step to Success, the results of round two and three associated with the research question regarding the Characteristics of an effective Advisory leader (Spearman, 2011). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the ratings.
During round two, the researcher posed questions to the County Extension Directors related to the characteristics of an effective advisory leader (Spearman, 2011). This question was only posed to County Extension Directors. Table 1 provides an analysis of the participant’s responses to this question (Spearman, 2011):
Mean scores of the County Extension Directors’ rating of 20 characteristics of effective Extension advisory leaders ranged from 2.89 to 4.58 as summarized in Table 1 (Spearman, 2011). A mean score of 4.5 to 5.0 was interpreted as extremely important, 3.5 to 4.49 interpreted as very important, and 2.5 to 3.49 as important on a five-point Likert scale (Spearman, 2011). Based on this interpretation, ‘honest and trustworthy,’ ‘committed, dependable, and dedicated,’ and ‘involved, respected, and connected in the community’ were identified as extremely important characteristics for effective Extension advisory leaders by County Extension Directors (Spearman, 2011). Thirteen were rated as very important and four were rated as important using this interpretation (Spearman, 2011). The lowest rated category by County Extension Directors was ‘faith-based’(Spearman, 2011).
During round three the researcher asked the County Extension Directors to rank the importance of the identified 20 characteristics for effective advisory leaders in Extension using a 20-point ranking scale ranging from one being most important to 20 being the least important. The mean of their responses ranged from 4.17 to 18.33 as summarized in Table 2 (Spearman, 2011).
The lowest mean reported in Table 2 was ‘involved, respected, and connected to the community’ indicating it was the most important characteristic for effective advisory leaders followed by ‘committed, dependable, and dedicated’ (Spearman, 2011). The highest mean reported was ‘charitable’ indicating it was the least important characteristic for effective advisory leaders in Extension of the 20 items ranked by County Extension Directors in Table 2 (Spearman, 2011).
In Future Next Step to Success more insights gleaned from this research regarding the best ways to recruit effective Advisory Leaders will be reported.
Spearman, T.J., (2011). Characteristics and Motivational Factors of Effective Extension Advisory Leaders. Unpublished manuscript, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.