Characteristics and Motivational Factors of Effective Extension Advisory Leaders: A Summary of Research Conducted by Teresa Joy Spearman-Part 3

It is well established that Extension educators should stay up-to-date related to research associated with Extension methodologies to ensure we are implementing best practices related to 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):

  1. What are the characteristics of effective advisory leaders?
  2. What are the motivational factors that cause individuals to be effective advisory leaders for Cooperative Extension?
  3. What are the best ways to recruit effective advisory leaders for Cooperative Extension?
  4. What are the best ways to retain effective advisory leaders for Cooperative Extension?
  5. What areas of training are needed to prepare effective advisory leaders?

The following questions were asked of the County Extension Directors (Spearman, 2011):

  1. What are the characteristics of effective advisory leaders?
  2. What are the motivational factors that cause individuals to be effective volunteers for Cooperative Extension?
  3. What are the best ways to recruit effective advisory leaders for Cooperative Extension?
  4. What are the best ways to retain effective advisory leaders for Cooperative Extension?
  5. What areas of training are needed to prepare effective advisory leaders?

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 effective recruiting of volunteers will be reported  (Spearman, 2011).  Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the ratings. The results for round two related to the question posed to State Advisory Council Members regarding methods to recruit effective advisory leaders are summarized in Table 1 (Spearman, 2011):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The researcher reported that mean scores of the State Advisory Council members’ rating of the best ways to recruit effective advisory leaders ranged from 3.63 to 4.37 on the five-point Likert scale (Spearman, 2011). A mean score of 3.5 to 4.49 was interpreted as very important (Spearman, 2011). Based on this interpretation, all 14 items listed in Table 1 were rated as very important by the State Advisory Council members (Spearman, 2011). While all categories were rated as very important, the highest rated category was ‘look for active and committed participants who understand Extension’ (Spearman, 2011).  The lowest rated category was ‘provide fun activities to attract prospective volunteers’ (Spearman, 2011).

Table 2 provides a summary of how County Extension Directors responded to the question related to the best ways to recruit effective Advisory Leaders (Spearman, 2011):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean scores of the County Extension Directors’ rating of 11 best ways to recruit effective Extension advisory leaders ranged from 3.21 to 4.21 as summarized in Table 2 (Spearman, 2011). A mean score of 3.5 to 4.49 was interpreted as very important and 2.5 to 3.49 as important on a five-point Likert scale (Spearman, 2011). Based on this interpretation, ten ways to recruit effective advisory leaders were rated as very important by the County Extension Directors (Spearman, 2011). One category was rated as important (Spearman, 2011). The highest rated category was ‘Look for strong leaders with desirable skills for Extension’ (Spearman, 2011).  The lowest rated category was ‘recruit from partner agencies, businesses, etc.’ (Spearman, 2011).

During round 3 the researcher asked the State Advisory Council to rank the importance of the identified 14 way to recruit effective advisory leaders in Extension utilizing a 14 point ranking scale ranging from one being the most important and 14 being the least important (Spearman, 2011).  The mean and standard deviation is reported in Table 3 (Spearman, 2011):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mean of their responses ranged from 3.84 to 10.63 as summarized in Table 3 (Spearman, 2011). The lowest mean reported was ‘look for effective leaders with desirable skills for Cooperative Extension’ indicating it was the most important way to recruit effective advisory leaders followed by ‘look for active and committed participants who understand Cooperative Extension’ (Spearman, 2011). The highest mean reported was ‘recognize volunteer service for recruitment of prospective volunteers’ indicating it was the least important way to recruit effective advisory leaders in Extension of the 14 items ranked by State Advisory Council Members (Spearman, 2011).

During round three the researcher asked the County Extension Directors to rank the importance of the identified 11 best way to recruit effective advisory leaders in Extension utilizing an 11-point ranking scale ranging from one being most important to 11 being the least important (Spearman, 2011). Table 4 provides the mean and standard deviation for County Extension Directors’ responses (Spearman, 2011):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mean of their responses ranged from 3.67 to 8.78 as summarized in Table 4 (Spearman, 2011). The lowest mean reported was ‘ask Cooperative Extension staff for recommendations’ indicating it was the most important way to recruit effective advisory leaders followed by ‘ask advisory members for recommendations’ (Spearman, 2011). The highest mean reported was ‘communicate overview of Cooperative Extension and volunteer opportunities to prospective volunteers’ indicating it was the least important way to recruit effective advisory leaders in Extension of the 11 items ranked by County Extension Directors (Spearman, 2011).

When comparing the ranked responses of the State Advisory Council Members and County Extension Directors some common themes emerged as important strategies by both panels. State Advisory Council Members and County Extension Directors viewed the following strategies as effective:

  • Look for effective leaders with desirable skill for Cooperative Extension.
  • Ask Cooperative Extension staff for recommendations.
  • Look for active and committed participants who understand Cooperative Extension.
  • Ask advisory members for recommendations.
  • Look for those that are connected to Cooperative Extension.
  • Provide meaningful opportunities.
  • Ask key community leaders for recommendations.
  • Seek diverse membership.

In Future Next Step to Success more insights garnered from this research regarding the best ways to retain effective Advisory Leaders will be reported.

Reference

Spearman, T.J., (2011). Characteristics and Motivational Factors of Effective Extension Advisory Leaders. Unpublished manuscript, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

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