Career development functions of school psychologists
Historically, school psychologists have primarily performed the duties of tester and classifier of primary aged children. The 1970's, however, witnessed an increasing dissatisfaction with this traditional view of school psychology. Different functions, encompassing most aspects of the total school program, have been espoused for the profession. One such proposed function concerns school psychology's involvement with career development programs. Indeed the concept of the "vocational school psychologist" has gathered a discernible momentum since its inception in 1974. This study was undertaken to analyze proposed functions of practicing school psychologists in career development based on a survey of the membership of the National Association of School Psychologists. Specifically, the study sought answers to the following questions:
l. What is the performance of school psychologists in the areas of vocational assessment, career counseling and development activities and career consultation, liaison and supervision?
What importance do school psychologists attach to the areas of vocational assessment, career counseling and development activities and career consultation, liaison and supervision?
What differences exist between the actual performance of school psychologists relative to vocational assessment, career counseling and development activities and career consultation, liaison and supervision and what school psychologists report should be practiced relative to vocational assessment, career counseling and development activities and career consultation, liaison and supervision?
What is the relationship of age, level of training, years of experience in school psychology, training and experience in career/vocational education to participant questionnaire responses?
To gather the data needed for the study, a questionnaire was mailed to a national sample of school psychology practitioners. The questionnaire contained 58 proposed career development functions for school psychologists, cutting across three school psychology role areas. Personal data forms were also completed to gather demographic information regarding the participants.
It was found that practicing school psychologists are only minimally involved in career development functions. Further, the importance practitioners attached to career development activities significantly exceeded their involvement in such functions. In all, participants favored and were more heavily involved in career development activities which indirectly related to responsibilities traditionally performed by school psychologists. This included testing students for placement in career/vocational education programs, interviewing students regarding their career development and interpreting vocational test findings. Greatest promise for school psychologists' future performance in functions related to career development involved the area of career counseling and development activities.
Several demographic variables related significantly with questionnaire scale responses. The hours of graduate course work practicing school psychologists have in career/vocational education appears to influence positively their involvement in vocational pupil appraisal. The percent of job time practicing school psychologists devote to career development functions appears to influence positively the importance they attach to vocational pupil appraisal. Older aged practicing school psychologists are more likely to be involved in career development activities than are younger aged practitioners. Significantly, 90% of respondents felt inadequately prepared to participate in career development functions.
It was concluded that school psychology needs to better prepare its membership for involvement in career development responsibilities. Particular attention should be paid toward establishing working relationships with other professionals who are involved in career education services. The relationship of the survey's findings to the literature was discussed and recommendations for future research and for the profession were offered.