Putnam, B. B., Lamm, A. J. & Lundy, L. K. (2017). Using critical thinking styles of opinion leaders to drive extension communication. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(3), 323-337. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.03323
In order to address the complex challenges facing the agricultural and natural resource industry, extension educators must collaborate with opinion leaders. Extension educators can use the assistance of opinion leaders in program design and implementation in order to best meet the needs of stakeholders and the public. Collaboration between extension educators and opinion leaders is more easily conducted when each party understands one another’s cognitive style and communication channel preference. This study explored the relationship between opinion leader critical thinking style among three contextual issue groups in agriculture and natural resources and preferred communication preferences used by extension educators. The three contextual issue groups included opinion leaders from the areas of water, food safety, and genetic modification (GM). Researchers used the University of Florida Critical Thinking Inventory (UFCTI) to measure critical thinking style of 300 respondents in Florida. Each of the contextual issue groups preferred engagement with information as their preferred critical thinking style. Among the contextual issue groups, significant differences were identified between the water and food safety groups in the information seeking UFCTI score and the GM and food safety groups in the information engagement score. The preferred method of receiving information overall was visiting a website.