School Counseling and Improvement of Student Academic Achievement in Students With Special Needs Term Paper

Pages: 15 (3837 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 26  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology


School counselors play an important and not always acknowledged role in providing assistance to students, giving students someone to talk to, and offering direction for those experiencing difficulties in their academic careers. Counselor play a particular role for special needs children, whether those suffering from learning disabilities or from physical disabilities, or those with some other issue that prevents them from maintaining their focus in class. Numerous studies have been made to show the role that counselors can and do play and how the counselor can keep students focused on learning. Such studies detail the role of the counselor with students with different types of problems, always showing that the role of the counselor can be made more effective with the practical application of certain ideas to the classroom environment.

Students and self-awareness

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The self has been a subject of discussion for more than a century, as far back as William James in the late nineteenth century. Markus (1977) developed the idea of self schema, the organized views of self which we all have, however unconsciously. Coopersmith (1967) and Bandura (1986) identified self-esteem, or the evaluative component of self, and self-efficacy, our perceived abilities. For these two concepts to be valid, they must apply to all groups including those with disabilities, and they ought to be reliably measurable (as noted by Kerr & Bodman, 1994). Luhtanen and Crocker (1992) set out to develop a reliable test for measuring self-esteem, and Sherer, Maddux, Mercandante, Prentice-Dunn, Jacobs, and Rogers (1982) created a reliable scale to assess self-efficacy.

Term Paper on School Counseling and Improvement of Student Academic Achievement in Students With Special Needs Assignment

It has been shown that experiencing a disability has a major impact on the sense of self (Toombs, 1994). However, Wright (1983) found that there are no general personality differences between people with disabilities compared to their peers, and Kelly, Sedlacek, and Scales (1994) found that college students with physical and learning disabilities did not perceive themselves differently from students without disabilities. On the other hand, Kelly et al. (1994) found that students from the general population considered their peers with disabilities as being lower in extraversion and in emotional stability compared to other peers.

A survey of college students with learning disabilities by Saracoglu, Minden, and Wilchesky (1989) was intended to determine perceptions of their college experience, and the researchers concluded that these college students exhibited poor self-esteem as well as poor emotional adjustment.

Penn and Dudley (1980) interviewed college students with physical disabilities in an effort to determine perceptions of their college experience, and they concluded that these students ranked self-confidence as one of the major obstacles they confronted in college. There is thus conflicting evidence in different studies about the impact of a disability on self-esteem.

Counseling offers a means for addressing problems for these students to aid them in developing more self-esteem and to give them the confidence they need to improve their academic achievement. One issue that might be cited is that professional organizations have adopted new standards that emphasize understanding and higher-order thinking skills, and this emphasis on enhanced academic performance for all students increases the pressure for schools to boost overall achievement levels, which in turn poses a potential problem for students with disabilities because reform movements that stress higher, and more inflexible, academic performance requirements do not bode well for students with mild to moderate disabilities, such as learning disabilities (Mamlin, 1999).

Educational Correction

Idol (1997) notes that inclusivity and collaboration are necessary components in order to offer education programs that will be available to all students and that will provide appropriate modifications and adjustments for students of all backgrounds:

In my experience, the best configuration for offering inclusive school programs is the use of teams of professionals and parents collaborating to create programs that all involved can support. The collaborative team makes decisions for individual students, who are either special education students to be educated in general education classes or students who are at risk for school failure... In each case, the intention of the team is to determine the most educationally enhancing learning environment... For the targeted student and to provide the support necessary to achieve that end (Idol, 1997).

Idol also sees a difference between inclusion and mainstreaming, a difference most analysts ignore. Idol says that inclusion means that a student with special education needs attends the general school program all day, while mainstreaming means that a student with special education needs is educated partially in a special education program, but to the maximum extent possible is educated in the general education program (Idol, 1997).

Russo and Kassera (1989), who conducted a needs-assessment survey of 548 10th- through 12th-grade students and 48 teachers to develop and implement the setting of goals and the assessing of needs, respectively in the program accountability process. Educational counseling was the highest ranked area, with personal-social and vocational-career development ranked second and, respectively. This shows some of the areas counseling should consider in fulfilling the needs and desires of teachers and students. The assessment process itself helps determine needs, and as Holmes (1989) notes, there is a need for assessment to include a number of dimensions rather than a single focus. Holmes offers a model of assessment specifically for disturbed children and adolescents that recognizes the many interacting conceptual systems within which the individual exists and develops. Holmes shows that while each system involving an individual can be understood and perhaps changed or treated on its own, all systems have a complex hierarchical relationship with each other. An awareness of the hierarchy of systems allows for logical interventions at one or more of these levels, reducing the need for professionals to decide on the right intervention or treatment for any individual or family. This shows as well how group and individual interventions can be balanced and can complement one another and create an awareness of both individual and broader needs.

Role of the Counselor

It is important that the counselor taking a holistic wellness perspective involve the parents in the process and also take the parental situation into account. One approach to assessment that has been developed is the Pediatric Symptom Checklist, and this survey involves the parents from the beginning of the child's school career. Murphy and Jellinek (1989) examine the validity of this checklist, which is a brief parent-completed psychosocial screening questionnaire. In the Murphy-Jellinek study, positive screening on the parent PSC was significantly associated with 1) independent ratings by the subjects' guidance counselor and teachers of the need for regular counseling; 2) any academic failure during the next two years; and 3) PSCs completed by the subjects about themselves. Most subjects who screened positive on the parent PSC had significant problems in at least one of the above areas. The PSC also identified subjects whose difficulties were previously unknown to school personnel. For pediatric psychologists, guidance counselors, and pediatricians who need to identify middle-school students with serious psychosocial problems, the PSC appears to be a valid and useful first-stage screening instrument.

The school counselor must also assess the nature of the parent-child relationship in order to have a complete and holistic picture of the child and that child's development. Such an assessment can be difficult and time-consuming, but there are also methods of performing such an assessment more quickly. Golden (1988) describes an instrument that helps counselors make a quick assessment of family functioning based on data from sources such as anecdotal records, teacher reports, and structured interviews with the child and family. Five criteria of family functioning are identified for this purpose: parental resources, chronicity, communication between family members, parental authority, and rapport with professional helpers. This is only one instrument available for the important task of assessing family function.

Teacher Involvement

Several studies have undertaken to assess differences in the points-of-view of teachers and counselors concerning the counseling situation. Miller (1989) surveyed 160 elementary school principals, 139 teachers, and 132 parents to ascertain their ideas about the relevance of elementary school guidance and counseling functions in their schools. Respondents completed a measure listing 28 important elementary school counselor functions classified under five competency areas: consulting, counseling, developmental/career guidance, evaluation and assessment, and guidance program development, coordination, and management. Principals, teachers, and parents agreed at the highest level assessed on 83% of the functions, and so the results supported the elementary school counselor's role in the school.

However, there may be differing interpretations of what that role is. O'Hagan and Swanson (1986) conducted a study in Scotland to compare the attitudes of 22 psychologists at a child guidance service with those previously found for 206 primary school teachers about teacher-psychologist working relationships; the deployment of psychologists in special education; and traditional and developing roles of educational psychologists in terms of assessment, treatment, policy making, and enhancement of parental involvement. The attitudes of the psychologists were clear-cut, high, and positive in almost all areas studied, while teachers were found to be more cautious and ambivalent or even negative in their assessments of psychologists' roles and effectiveness. There were some areas of agreement between the two… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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