Assessing Extension Professionals


Like all professions, the field of extension has some key competencies that are required to ensure proficiency.

Extension officers must be effective at being an intermediary between research and farmers.  They also operate as facilitators and communicators, helping farmers and rural communities in their decision-making and ensuring that appropriate knowledge is implemented to obtain the best results with regard to sustainable production, natural resource management outcomes and general rural development.

Ladewig and Rohs (2000) presented a large data set, assessing extension workers against a suite of twelve management proficiency criteria, important to the design and implementation of educational programs.  They grouped them into four key areas: Management, Relating to others, Building the team, Thinking clearly.

These have been used and further developed below, to give a suite of competencies to help extension professionals reflect on their abilities and identify their strengths and areas for improvement/professional development.

Rate yourself against each criteria and it is understood and expected that not all criteria may apply to your particular role in extension or personal situation, customise to suit.

Management

Program planning and scheduling work

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Setting goals

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Maintaining an outcome focus

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Being self directed and maintaining motivation

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Time management

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Bidding/completing project or funding applications

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Budget/financial management of programs or projects

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Confident in being both accountable and responsible for outcomes

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Assessing and managing risk

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Evaluation

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

 

Relating to others

Listening and understanding

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Listening and validating

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Giving clear information (Simple explanations to complex concepts)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Sourcing and curating unbiased information

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Public speaking (presenting)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Interpersonal communication (ability to communication effectively)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Group facilitation

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Communicating technical information effectively

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Negotiating (achieving agreed outcomes and getting consensus)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Networking (building and using professional and “client” networks)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

 

Building the team

Team work (working well in a team)

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Training, coaching and delegating

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Appraising people and performance

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Counselling and disciplining

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Technical skills, critical thinking and being pragmatic are critical in an extension role.

Analysis and critical thinking

Identifying and solving problems

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Making decisions, weighing risk

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Thinking clearly and analytically

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Technical competence in your field

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Practical experience in your field

– your self assessment:  1 (not competent)    2     3 (competent)    4     5 (expert)

Professional development is critical to job satisfaction, but this quote from Dr Norman Borlaug captures the importance of extension agent proficiency.

For Further Information

Fulton A., Fulton D., Tabart T., Ball P., Chamption S., Weatherley J., Heinjus D.  (2003)  Agricultural Extension, Learning and Change. A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Manohar S., Pooja J. (2019)  Importance of Professional Competency of Extension Personnel. International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences ISSN: 2319-7706 Volume 8 Number 10 (2019)

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