An Investigation of the Perceptions of High School Professional School Counselors: Qualitative Insights

Two of our readers, Samantha Vanderpool (Needleman) who is earning her doctorate through Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida and her colleague, Ashley Rizzi (Neer) are surveying Florida high school counselors to get their perception on classroom guidance for their dissertation.


The purpose of this mixed-method study is to examine the professional school counselor’s perceptions of their role and purpose in a school setting when facilitating classroom guidance.  The data will be collected through an online survey consisting of questions regarding the amount of time spent facilitating one-on-one counseling, small group, classroom guidance, as well as whether school counselors feel a classroom guidance program aids in the betterment of the students.  The questions that will be evaluated in this study will be: “How does a classroom guidance curriculum improve the role of professional school counselors?” and “What is necessary to integrate an effective classroom guidance curriculum in a high school setting?”


The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) indicates a school counseling program that consists of an all-inclusive range to provide all students in the academic, career, and social/emotional domains (2013/2017).  School counseling programs support the visions and missions of all schools and these programs are powerful activists for all students (ASCA, 2017).  Professional school counselors provide classroom guidance on topics such as career, college, school-wide character education, the transition from middle to high school, peer pressures, bullying prevention, scholarships, and financial aid (Campbell & Dahir, 1997).  The purpose of a professional school counselor is to address academic, career, and social/emotional needs of students because their role helps bridge these gaps (Morgan, Greenwaldt, & Gooselin, 2015).


“Professional school counselors serve a vital role in maximizing student success” (ASCA, 2017, p. 1).  ASCA (2017) believes professional school counselors work with students in the three domains of academic achievement, career growth, and social/emotional development, thus safeguarding that students today will be productive and well-balanced adults of tomorrow (2017).  Professional school counselors have the responsibility of working with students’ kindergarten to twelfth grade in an effort to help solve academic, career, and social/emotional matters (, n.d.).  Within the ASCA National Model, there are mindsets and behaviors, which are organized by domains (ASCA, 2014).  According to ASCA, these domains help enhance student learning and foster their mindset and behaviors (2014).  In the areas of academic, career, and social/emotional problems professional school counselors also aid in identifying students who are affected by substance abuse, domestic violence, or tribulations with other students as well as advising students through their post-secondary path (, n.d.).

  • Academic Development. “Standards guiding school counseling programs to implement strategies and activities to support and maximize each student’s ability to learn” (ASCA, 2014, p.  1).  Throughout their educational career, students acquire knowledge, attitude, and skills while building the foundation for their future success (ASCA, 2017).
  • Career Development. “Standards guiding school counseling programs to help students understand the connection between school and the world of work and to plan for and make a successful transition from school to postsecondary education and/or the world of work and from job to job across the lifespan” (ASCA, 2014, p. 1).
  • Social/Emotional Development. “Standards guiding school counseling programs to help students manage emotions and learn and apply interpersonal skills” (ASCA, 2014, p.  1). According to ASCA (2017), professional school counselors find themselves facilitating various roles, such as individual counseling, small group counseling, and classroom guidance.
  • Individual Counseling. When counselors meet individually with their students, they guide them while creating personal goals and future plans.
  • Small Group. Small group counseling is a well-organized and applicable way for professional school counselors to meet students’ academic, career, and social/emotional development, and situational needs (ASCA, 2014).  Further, “group counseling makes it possible for students to achieve healthier academic and personal growth in a rapidly changing global society” (ASCA, 2014, p. 30).
  • Classroom Guidance. A classroom guidance curriculum involves well thought out lessons planned to help students reach goals and to teach all students the knowledge, attitudes, and skills applicable to their developmental level (ASCA, n.d.).  This type of school counseling curriculum can be taught throughout a school’s general curriculum (ASCA, n.d.).  Campbell and Dahir (1997) state professional school counselor’s roles require them to provide direct and indirect services throughout the school day.  For example, working with students one-on-one or planning for classroom guidance curriculum.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the needs assessment study will be to examine how high school professional school counselors perceive the development of a classroom guidance curriculum and whether it is seen as important by professional school counselors.  With school districts continuously pursuing increasing graduation rates, this study seeks to determine how a classroom guidance curriculum helps improve professional school counselor’s role and purpose in a classroom setting.  A study out of Missouri found when students have greater access to their school counselor state graduation rates increased (Lapan, Gysbers, Braggs, & Pierce, 2012).  Thus, professional school counselors can be a critical part of school improvement efforts (Salina et al., 2013).  Furthermore, this study will investigate: a) the professional school counselor’s role and purpose when facilitating classroom guidance, b) evaluate whether a professional school counselor finds the development of classroom guidance curriculum beneficial to student achievement and c) discuss further needs for improvement in the classroom guidance curriculum.  Evidence-based research indicates when professional school counselors use curriculums it can improve a students’ academic achievements (Villares, et al 2011).  Overall, the study will investigate high school professional school counselors’ perception of classroom guidance and whether it is seen as important by professional school counselors.


The foundation of this study was to gain a better understanding of the professional school counselor’s role and purpose in the high school setting while facilitating classroom guidance and whether it is seen as important by professional school counselors.  The present study will be designed to examine the roles and purpose of a professional school counselor while facilitating classroom guidance in a school setting using a qualitative and quantitative approach.

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