Characteristics and Motivational Factors of Effective Extension Advisory Leaders: A Summary of Research Conducted by Teresa Joy Spearman-Part 4

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 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 related to retention 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 the best way to retain 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 retain effective advisory leaders ranged from 3.53 to 4.68 (Spearman, 2011). A mean score of 4.5 to 5.0 was interpreted by the researcher as extremely important and 3.5 to 4.49 interpreted as very important on this five-point Likert scale (Spearman, 2011). Based on this interpretation, ‘providing meaningful engagement opportunities for volunteer service’ and ‘appreciate and recognize volunteer service’ were rated as extremely important as summarized in Table 1 (Spearman, 2011). The remaining eight categories were rated as very important (Spearman, 2011). The lowest rated category was ‘provide opportunities for volunteers to recruit new members’ (Spearman, 2011)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean scores of the County Extension Directors’ rating of eight best ways to retain effective Extension advisory leaders ranged from 3.53 to 4.42 as summarized in Table 2 (Spearman,2011). A mean score of 3.5 to 4.49 was interpreted as very important on a five-point Likert scale (Spearman, 2011). Based on this interpretation, all eight items listed in the scale were rated as very important by the County Extension Directors (Spearmen, 2011). The highest rated category was ‘respect volunteer time and inputs’ (Spearman, 2011).  The lowest rated category was ‘share responsibilities and give ownership for volunteer contributions’ (Spearman, 2011).

During round 3 the researcher asked the State Advisory Council members were asked to rank the importance of the identified 10 best ways to retain effective advisory leaders in Extension using a 10-point ranking scale ranging from one being most important to 10 being the least important (Spearman, 2011).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mean of the State Council Members ranged from 3.53 to 8.84 as summarized in Table 3. The lowest mean reported was ‘provide meaningful engagement opportunities for volunteer service’ indicating it was the most important way to retain effective advisory leaders followed by ‘provide training opportunities for advisory leaders’ (Spearman, 2011).  The highest mean reported was ‘provide opportunities for volunteer recruitment’ indicating it was the least important way to retain effective advisory leaders in Extension of the 10 items ranked (Spearman, 2011).

During round three the researcher asked the County Extension Directors to rank the importance of the identified eight best way to retain effective advisory leaders in Extension utilizing an 8 point ranking scale ranging from one being most important to 8 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 2.89 to 7.00 as summarized in Table 4. The lowest mean reported was ‘provide meaningful engagement opportunities for volunteer service’ indicating it was the most important way to retain effective advisory leaders followed by ‘provide regular communication to keep volunteers involved’ (Spearman, 2011).  The highest mean reported was ‘connect volunteers to key leaders’ indicating it was the least important way to retain effective advisory leaders in Extension of the eight 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:

  • Provide meaningful engagement opportunities for volunteer service.
  • Provide training opportunities for advisory leaders.
  • Provide regular communication to keep volunteers involved.
  • Appreciate and recognize volunteer service (Was third in volunteers panel ranking).
  • Respect volunteers time and inputs.

In Future Next Step to Success more insights garnered from this research regarding best ways to training 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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