The Influence of Personal Characteristics on Secondary School Teachers’ Beliefs About School Guidance and Counselling Programs
By Aluede, Oyaziwo; Egbochuku, Elizabeth
This paper investigated how personal characteristics of secondary school teachers influence their beliefs about their school guidance and counselling programs. Two hundred and sixteen senior secondary school teachers responded to the Teachers Beliefs about School Guidance and Counselling Programs Inventory (TBSG &CI). When teachers’ opinion about school guidance and counselling programs were surveyed across their age, sex, ownership of schools and their teaching majors, no significant difference was found among secondary school teachers based on the aforementioned demographic characteristics of the teachers.
Although, external support such as, the Federal Government of Nigeria’s decision to offer scholarship for Masters degree students in guidance and counselling and the inclusion of guidance and counselling as an educational service in our national policy on education, as a result of the events that cropped up after the Nigerian civil war(July 29, 1967- January 15, 1970), which brought about the need to rehabilitate war victims from their post war social, political, economic and educational problems, were responsible for guidance and counselling programs getting a foot in the door of secondary school system (Aluede, 2000; Aluede & Imonikhe, 2002; Aluede, Afen- Akpaida & Adomeh, 2004), the staying power and eventual success would be largely determined by the internal support accorded these programs(Gibson, 1990). In terms of internal support, no group could be more critical than the classroom teachers (Gibson, 1990).
Our students need to be more competitive with students from other states of the federation, is a statement that has become a genuine concern among critics. This requires students to attend school on a much more regular basis, attend school for longer hours and take more academic classes. Surprisingly, very little attention, if any, was given to school guidance in all these efforts to revamp education. It is as though school guidance and counseling service is a fringe benefit instead of being directly linked with students’ learning (Myrick, 1993).
Myrick (1993) remarks that learning is a consequence of the environment for better or for worse. Teachers and students working together create a learning climate, which plays a critical role in educational excellence. If students are to learn effectively and efficiently, to achieve more academically and to be productive and responsible citizens, then functional school guidance and counselling program must be part of the total school experience.
Myrick (1993) further noted that approximately 70 percent of the 21389 teachers surveyed in 1990 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, rated counselling services for students as either “fair or poor”. This Myrick ( 1993) reports may be attributed to the ineffective traditional guidance and counselling methods, which too often rely on individual counselling at critical moments. Hence counsellors were seen as administrative assistants and having too little time to counsel. Even when counselling took place, it seemed to have little impact on students’ attitude or behaviour.
Teachers’ perception of school counsellors have been neglected and virtually ignored. However, a few authors who have studied this, report that most teachers perceive counsellors as a positive contribution to the school instructional programs (Aluede & Imonikhe, 2002; Quarto, 1999).
In Ireland for example, O’Brien, Tuite, McDonogh and Deffely (1982, as cited in O’Leary, 1990) reported areas of mutual interests to both guidance counsellors and their teaching colleagues. Ninety- five percent of the respondents held the opinion that the counsellor should participate in the teachers’ discussions of classroom experiences; eighty-five percent of their research participants believed that counsellors should use teachers as a career information resource. Overall, the study points to the possibility of integrating career information with the role of the subject teacher. The study further advocated that new methods and techniques could be devised whereby the counsellor coordinates the subject teaching staff, as a team of people who can effectively fulfill many of the career information needs of the students.
Schmidt (1993) revealed that counsellors and teachers use classroom guidance activities to encourage positive self-concept development and alter behaviours for improving school success. These classroom activities are integrated with daily lessons or designated as specially planned presentations. It is worthy of mention that no school counselling program is successful without the support and assistance of the teachers in the school (Schmidt, 1993). The teacher is the most important professional in the school setting (Gibson & Mitchell, 2003).
Teachers are a vital link in the integration of affective education into the curriculum. They are the first line helpers in the school counselling program and are the referral sources for students in need of additional assistance. Thus, teachers’ support and participation are very vital to any program that involves students. Hence, teachers feel that they have responsibilities in the school counselling programs beyond those performed in the classrooms (Gibson & Mitchell, 2003). Thus, counsellors’ roles and functions continue to be an ongoing discussion in the literature even though they have been in existence for more than a decade and specifically designated by American School Counseling Association (ASCA) (Stower, 2003). The role of the school counsellor has been studied, examined, defined and redefined by abundance of literature (Brott & Myers, 1999; Stower, 2003). However, the actual, ideal and perceived roles of school counsellors differ in meaning among researchers.
Few people can make or break the school counselling programs like the teachers. Teachers serve as excellent referral sources for children in need of counseling services. In addition, teachers are valuable sources of information for need assessment and program evaluation. Their input is vital to understanding the needs of a school community as well as the effectiveness of the school counselling program interventions (Ripley, Erford, Dahir & Eschbach, 2003).
For school guidance program to flourish, cooperation between school counselors and teachers is paramount. According to Nugget (1990), next to counselors, school teachers are the most important component in implementing a successful school guidance program. By and large, teachers are the key adult figure in the average pupil’s school day. They are the most influential figures, be it positive or negative to the average student. This is particularly true at the elementary level, where children spend the majority of their day in one classroom. Thus, without teachers’ support and involvement, developmental guidance won’t work. As teachers represent the first line of defence in identifying special needs, they are the key advisors to the children and represent the best hope of personalization of learning. Therefore, teamwork between teachers and counselors is a necessity for any guidance program to thrive (Stelzer, 2003). Furthermore, Nugget (1990) reported that teachers were the most crucial allies in a counselor attempt to deliver a successful guidance program. As teachers spend more time with the students than any other school staff member. Therefore, they are most apt to influence kids both individually and collectively.
Adams (2000) reports the need for teachers and counsellors to work as a team for coordination of intervention efforts. Activities that received high ranks included the areas of individual and small group planning, as well as, specific areas in personal, educational and career decisions (Hughey, Gysbers & Starr, 1993). Specific strengths cited by numerous teachers were caring attitude of counsellors and the fact that they were readily accessible, as well as, the college planning time spent with the students (Hughey, et al., 1993).
On the type of school in relation to guidance and counselling programs, teachers perceived private (sectarian) schools to have the best implementation of guidance services, followed by public (state) schools and private (non-sectarian) schools respectively. In addition, teachers’ perception of counselling services showed differences between public (state) schools and private (sectarian) schools. Furthermore, teachers perceived significant difference in testing services between public (state) schools and private (non- sectarian) schools. Overall implementation of the services was perceived by teachers to have differed between private (national) schools and private (sectarian) schools (Mabalot, 1995).
In the area of gender of school teachers in relation to their beliefs about school guidance and counseling programs, Egbochuku and Iyamu (2000) in their study of 200 secondary school teachers from 10 out of the 23 secondary schools with trained school counselors in the Benin metropolis of Nigeria revealed that no significant difference exists between male and female teachers in their perception of guidance and counseling services existing in their schools.
Rationale for the Study\The intention of this study was essentially to generate discussions in the area of secondary school teachers’ personal characteristics as they affect their beliefs about the guidance and counseling programs existing in their schools. As it is common knowledge in the counseling world that even though much is known about the general perception of teachers regarding school guidance and counseling programs, little or nothing has ever been said about the personal characteristics of these teachers in relation to their perception about the school guidance and counseling programs in their schools. Thus, it seemed appropriate therefore to assess the beliefs of classroom teachers regarding guidance and counselling programs in the secondary schools. Thus, this study predicts that teachers’ sex, age, and teaching major, and nature in terms of ownership of schools would affect secondary school teachers’ beliefs about their schools’ guidance and counselling programs.
Method of Study
The demographic characteristics of the participants included 88 male teachers and 128 female teachers. The teachers’ majors were spread in the sample as follows: Social Sciences 64, Arts 70, Sciences 70, Vocational and Technical Education 13, and general Education 11. In addition, of the 216 participants in this study, 150 of them were employed in public secondary schools (government owned), 34 of them are employed in private (owned by the church) and the remaining 42 of the teachers are employed in private schools (owned by individuals). In terms of relationship, 25 of the teachers are single, 180 of them indicated that they are married, 10 of the participants indicated that they are widows/widowers and only one indicated to have married but now divorced.
A questionnaire, entitled Teachers Beliefs about School Guidance and Counselling Programs Inventory (TBSGCPI), was employed in the collection of data for this study. This version was a modification of Gibson’s (1990) Teachers’ opinions about School Counseling and Guidance Programs Survey. The modification of the scale became necessary because of the peculiarities of counselling practices in Nigeria, especially the differences in the US and Nigeria’s cultural idiosyncrasies.
The current instrument was made up of two sections: section A sought personal information of the teachers, such as, Age, Sex, Relationship status, Teaching major, and ownership of schools where they are presently teaching. section B of the instrument was made of 27 items raised on a four- point Likert type scale with responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. This section was specially designed to tap information from the teachers on their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs existing in their schools.
The instrument was content validated by four persons, two professors of guidance and counseling with specialization in school counselling, and two practicing school counsellors. Based on their corrections / modifications on the instrument, especially to suite the Nigerian situation, the final version of the instrument was drawn.
Copies of the questionnaire were administered to classroom teachers in schools where there are school counsellors. The questionnaire was personally administered by current investigators with the assistance of school counsellors in the last week before the midterm break of the third term in the 2004/ 2005 academic year. At the end of mid-break, the cuaent investigators personally went round the schools with the assistance of the school counsellors retrieved the duly filled copies. At the time of collection, 216 copies were duly filled and are used for the analyses.
From the 420 questionnaires distributed to the respondents, 216 were duly filled and returned, resulting in a response rate of 51.4%.
The first hypothesis stated that there is no significant difference among secondary school teachers, irrespective of the nature of schools they teach, in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs. The One-way ANOVA test yielded no significant difference in secondary school teachers’ beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs (F (2,213) = 1.630, p> .05). It can be concluded that teachers employed in public (government owned), private (individually owned) and private (owned by religious group) schools do not difer in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs
The second hypothesis predicted no significant difference between male and female secondary school teachers in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs. The result indicated that male teachers (M= 82.05, S= 7.64) and female teacher (M= 82.30, S= 7.77) do not differ in their beliefs about guidance and counselling programs (t = 0.81, p> .05). It can be concluded that both male and female secondary school teachers hold same beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs.
The third hypothesis stated that secondary school teachers irrespective of their age brackets would not differ in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs. The result of ANOVA test indicated that youthful teachers (29 years and below), adult teachers (30- 50 years) and elderly teachers (51 years and above) do not differ in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs (F (2, 213) = 0.704, p>.05)
The last hypothesis predicted that there would be no significant difference among secondary school teachers irrespective of their teaching majors in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs. The result of the hypothesis test indicated that no significant difference existed among teachers of Arts, Social Sciences, Sciences, Vocational and Technical Education and General Education majors, in their beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs (F (4, 210)= 0.467, p>.05). It can therefore be concluded that secondary school teachers irrespective of their teaching majors hold the same beliefs about school guidance and counselling programs.
Contrary to the expectation of this study that secondary school teachers would according to the nature of the schools they teach (ownership of schools), differ in their beliefs about their schools’ guidance programs, this study found no significant difference in their beliefs about their schools’ guidance and counselling programs. This may not be too surprising given the fact that that in Nigeria, guidance policy is yet to be fully developed and articulated by school teachers and significant others. What exists at present is that secondary schools in Nigeria are at liberty to evolve and implement any guidance program that meets the needs of their school. This result is inconsistent with that of Mabalot (1995), which reported that secondary school teachers in private (sectarian) schools perceived their schools to have the best implementation of school guidance programs.
This study also revealed that no significant difference exists between male and female teachers in their beliefs about school guidance and counseling programs of their schools. One is not too surprised about this finding given the fact that both categories of staff as it is reported in most guidance literature believe that school counselors do not perform any unique roles. Rather they have always considered school counselors’ activities as mere duplication of the duties of classroom teachers. Hence teachers have had to advocate that school counselors be assigned teaching and other ancillary responsibilities. The finding of this study is consistent with that of Egbochuku and Iyamu (2002), which reported no significant difference in the perception of male and female teachers about guidance and counseling services in Nigerian secondary schools.
Limitation of the study
There is a great dearth of literature in the area of personal characteristics of teachers in relation to their beliefs about school guidance and counseling programmes. Therefore, it was difficult to review of guidance literature as it relates to teachers’ beliefs about guidance and counseling programs based on the teachers’ age and teaching majors.
This study has provided an important perspective about teachers’ personal variables in relation to their beliefs about school guidance and counseling programs. No doubt, the results of this study would enable counselor educators and counseling professionals to design a more effective counseling program that would provide school teachers with a clearer picture of counseling practices in secondary schools in Nigeria.
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OYAZIWO ALUEDE, PH.D.
Ambrose Alli University
ELIZABETH EGBOCHUKU, PH.D.
University of Benin
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