The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of effective facilitators of nonformal education (NFE) in Ecuador in order to (a) more completely understand the nature of NFE; (b) evaluate the success of the Project; and (c) develop guidelines for training facilitators in other countries. Thirteen experts (six Ecuadorian and seven North American staff members of the Project) brainstormed a list of skills, knowledge areas, and attitudes, of effective facilitators of NFE in community-based learning groups. The responses combined with items found in a review of literature of NFE, the Ecuador project, community development, and teacher effectiveness, became the Preliminary List of Facilitator Characteristics. This list, consolidated into sixty general characteristics, was divided into (a) criteria for selecting facilitator trainees and (b) characteristics of facilitators after training. The sixty items became a second questionnaire. Each expert rated the appropriateness and importance of each item. The results of this second questionnaire were resubmitted to the experts to reconsider and rate a second time. At least one-half of the experts agreed to the degree of importance of all except one item. Weighting the expert's responses resulted in a rank order of the relative importance of each item.
Two comparison groups with similar experience but little or no knowledge of the Ecuador Project also rated each item. The comparison groups confirmed the ratings of importance given by the experts. Variations between groups which occurred in the rank order of items are apparently a result of experience with the Ecuador Project.
A process was also used to demonstrate how the general skills, knowledge areas, and attitudes, can be stated as observable behaviors for particular settings. Through this process, the operationalization of the goal or intent, the results of the study can be adapted to diverse settings and facilitator training programs can be elaborated for particular geographic and cultural situations.
The study also confirmed the utility of the Delphi in clarifying a group opinion. By providing feedback on the response to a previous questionnaire and by asking the respondents to reevaluate their individual opinions, a group consensus develops which research has shown to be more useful than an individual opinion, a single questionnaire, or a group discussion.