An analysis of job satisfaction of school psychologists practicing in West Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The issue of job satisfaction has become a prominent topic in research on the American worker and in discussions within the profession of school psychology. Recent literature and dialogue in the profession has suggested that many school psychologists are dissatisfied with their jobs. However, a 1982 study on a nationwide sample of school psychologists failed to substantiate the existence of wide spread dissatisfaction, suggesting that such dissatisfaction may be localized within specific populations of school psychologists.

The population of school psychologists practicing in West Virginia was selected for this study, based on demographic characteristics and a history of high turnover rates. The 137 school psychologists practicing in West Virginia were surveyed, with 125 (91.24%} Survey materials included a Data Form, used to gather demographic information, and a modified form of the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ), used to measure levels and sources of job satisfaction.·

The study was designed to answer five specific research questions regarding: (1) levels of job satisfaction, (2) sources of job satisfaction, (3) correlates of job satisfaction for school psychologists in West Virginia, and the comparability of (4) levels of job satisfaction and (5) correlates and sources of job satisfaction between school psychologists in West Virginia and school psychologists in the national sample.

Frequency counts of Modified MSQ scores revealed that more than 35% of the school psychologists in West Virginia were dissatisfied with their jobs. Subscale means and 95% confidence intervals on the Modified MSQ indicated that co-workers, social service, activity, moral values, and independence were major sources of satisfaction, and that school system policies and practices, advancement opportunities, compensation, working conditions, and supervision were major sources of dissatisfaction for school psychologists practicing in West Virginia.

Multiple regression procedures were used to determine the relationships between overall job satisfaction scores and demographic variables. Two factors of the work environment, supervision and salary, emerged as significant predictors of overall job satisfaction. At test indicated that overall job satisfaction levels of West Virginia school psychologists were significantly lower than the levels reported for the national sample of school psychologists. Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction were essentially the same for West Virginia school psychologists and those of the national sample, but significant correlates of job satisfaction differed, leading to the conclusion that specific factors of different work environments have the greatest impact upon the job satisfaction levels of school psychologists. Additionally, more than 80% of the school psychologists practicing in West Virginia (or twice the percentage reported in the national study) indicated that they plan to leave their present positions within five years.

Several implications were drawn from the results of the study, leading to recommendations for school psychologists, the State Department of Education, trainers and employers of school psychologists, and professional school psychology organizations. The recommendations focused on revision of salary scales and supervision, development of educational and advancement opportunities, strategies for retaining school psychologists, arid topics for additional research.