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An Analysis of Expertise in Agricultural Communications, Education, Extension, and Leadership Research
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Expertise is dynamic, domain specific, and characterized by an individual’s level of knowledge, experience, and problem-solving ability. Having expertise in the phenomenon of interest can be used as an indicator of an individual’s aptitude to effectively serve as a coder in a content analysis or as a panelist in a Delphi study. The purpose of this study was to assess expertise as it related to research conducted in agricultural communications, education, extension, and leadership disciplines. The research was conducted in three phases. Phase one described the ways social scientists described the qualifications of expert coders and panelists. Findings revealed the majority of ACEEL researchers publishing in the premier agricultural education journals did not describe the qualifications content analysis coders possessed and did not provide a citation that supported the inclusion or exclusion of a description. A description of Delphi study panelists’ qualifications was included in all of the Delphi studies analyzed, yet researchers were inconsistent in providing a citation. Phase two assessed 149 characteristics considered indicative of expertise to reduce the number of characteristics and identify constructs of expertise. A total of 827 social scientists from across the United States were invited to complete a psychometric instrument. As a result, 10 constructs that can be used to describe expertise were identified. Phase three of the study examined which constructs were most valued by the ACEEL social scientists. Three constructs—Specialized Knowledge and Assessment Ability, Source Evaluation, and Cognitive Processing—scored highly among participants indicating participants’ positive feelings about these constructs as valuable. Two constructs—Academic Credentials and Communication and Self-Importance—received lower scores, which indicated participants did not believe the constructs were strong indicators of expertise. Based on the results of this study, it was concluded that ACEEL researchers could use the constructs as a basis for consistently describing the characteristics of the experts retained to contribute to ACEEL research. Doing so could enhance the consistency, transparency, replicability, rigor, and integrity of ACEEL research.
Costello, Lori Michelle (2018). An Analysis of Expertise in Agricultural Communications, Education, Extension, and Leadership Research. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from