Parental Expectations of Secondary School Counselors

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Virginia Tech

Despite much attention given to school counselors and their roles, minimal research has been conducted with regard to parental expectations of school counselors and no research exists in how expectancy theory relates to parental motivation. The primary purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore parental expectations of the secondary school counselor's roles and to gain an understanding of how expectancy theory influences parental motivation. The following questions were researched: What are the attitudes and general beliefs that parents have regarding expectations of school counselors? What do parents expect their children to gain from working with secondary school counselors? How do parents' prior interactions with school counselors impact their expectations? Is there a relationship between parental expectations and what advice/encouragement parents give their children when consulting school counselors?

The first phase consisted of a qualitative exploration of the expectations of secondary school counselors based on focus group interviews with fifteen parents. Qualitative results revealed that parents expect secondary school counselors to know and guide their child. In addition, parents expect their children to gain information and knowledge from their school counselor. Finally, it was determined that there was a relationship between what parents expect and the encouragement and advice parents gave their children about working with school counselors.

Themes that emerged from the focus groups were used in the development of the Parental Expectation School Counselor Questionnaire (PESCQ) and to confirm the focus group findings. The PESCQ was administered to 450 parents of high school students in grades 9-12 at two SW Virginia high schools. The survey did not detect significant findings between demographic variables but did confirm qualitative findings of parental expectations and child gains. Clearly, parents who had expectations expected their children to gain knowledge and information from their school counselors and those parents were motivated to encourage their children to work with their school counselor.

This study contributed to research on expectancy theory and analysis revealed that parents are motivated to work with counselors because they have shared values of wanting what is best for the child. This positive outcome equals a students' success. This research also provided implications for parents, school counselors, counselor educators, administrators, and school boards. Parents need to get to know their child's school counselor and become informed about their roles and functions. School counselors need to do their best to get to know their students and evaluate how they can motivate their parents to be more involved. Parents and school counselors share values of wanting the student to be successful. Since parents see the school counselor as a key to success and parents want to meet their child's needs this creates a motivation in working with the school counselor.

school counselors, parental expectations, mixed methods