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Effects of the Distributed-Counseling Model in 7th Grade Hispanic Middle School Students’ Self-Efficacy Skills and Motivation


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Effects of the Distributed-Counseling Model in 7th Grade Hispanic Middle School Students’ Self-Efficacy Skills and Motivation

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of the distributed counseling model on twenty-four 7th grade Hispanic middle school students’ self-efficacy skills and motivation. This study focuses on measuring the various skills that Hispanic middle school children need to be successful at both the high school and collegiate level through the use of a self-efficacy and motivation instrument. In determining the effects of the distributed counseling model one can identify the effectiveness of this model in aiding with student success amongst Hispanic adolescents. It is noted that self-efficacy, amount of intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic motivation an individual possesses, and overall self-management skills are strong predictors of student success.

Introduction Alonso-Zaldivar and Tompson (2010) found that Hispanics are at a point where, “Eighty-seven percent said a college education is extremely or very important, compared with 78% of the overall U.S. population.” However, “Census figures show that only 13% of Hispanics have a college degree or higher, compared with 30% among Americans overall.” This figure alone is astonishing in the sense that Hispanics understand the importance of an education, yet somehow seem to get caught up in the process of actually motivating and self-regulating themselves to achieve these educational goals. It would be inconsiderate to declare Hispanics incapable and unable to attain a higher education. It is also culturally insensitive to assume that the reason many Hispanics don’t graduate is due to apathy and lack of vocational skills. The key thing to take note of is how other ethnicities are not only motivating their adolescents at a young age to pursue a higher education, but instilling in them the necessary, traits, skills, and mindsets needed to be successful well past college.
It is recognized that Hispanics are a fast growing group of individuals. Aside from the unique cultural aspects that Hispanics bring to the larger collective, they also present unique educational aspects to educators and counselors alike. Despite the notion that family plays a key role in the dynamics of a Hispanic’s educational decisions, motivational factors such as being able to persevere in a difficult academic setting are crucial to the success and outcomes of the student as well. A poignant observation that has been made is that of how various aspects of a student’s success are strongly tied in with the individual’s ability to build their confidence, accumulate positive self-efficacy building experiences, and have reliable sources of motivation to build on. For many Hispanics, obstacles such as lack of support, financial burdens, and even issues with self-regulatory behaviors can cease to hinder and diminish their chances of advancing their education. This is only possible if the appropriate amount of motivation is applied, self-efficacy is utilized, and the model of distributed counseling is effectively implemented.
Review of the Literature
The relevancy of academic success components such as self-efficacy and motivation are grounded in research that supports the notion that these factors are not only necessary to examine, but also influential and an integral part of a student’s success. Students who are confident in their academic capabilities work harder, evaluate their progress more frequently, and engage in more self-regulatory strategies that promote success in school (Pajares, 2002). It is only when youth experience high-quality social environments that they can reach higher levels of performance and well being. The catalysts behind these types of environments are none other than the utilization of intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy as one may have assumed.
When determining the role of the counselor, it can be determined that there is a dire need for counselors to transcend into the mindset and role as distinct leaders in the school system. Whether it is a counselor’s self doubt, lack of resources, or lack of support, the distributed counseling model disseminates not only the amount of workload a counselor has, but optimizes the counseling experience for students as well. Instead of the imposing individualistic view that the provision of leadership should merely be delegated from principals to other school professionals such as school counselors, distributed leadership offers a perspective in which leadership is stretched across numerous school staff including counselors, thus expanding its potential impact on students while also serving to build a stronger sense of school community. When leadership is dispersed to the appropriate leaders, their collective strengths and talents are better utilized. This shift in workload and belief systems then can serve to build the efficacy of the administrative team and promote leadership density within schools. Additionally, many counselors benefit from this distribution of student accountability as it allows counselors to better cope with anxiety they may have previously had when attempting to facilitate working towards student success.
School counselors are at a leveraged vantage point in the sense that not many school professionals have the same access and interpretation skills with student data as do school counselors. (House & Martin, 1998). In addition to the formal data regarding students, school counselors are often also recipients of informal, intrapersonal relationships students create with teachers, other educators, parents, and students. A key component of school counselor training is the assessment and interpretation of student data and the communication of these data in meaningful ways to other school staff, parents, and students. Given both their position of information flow regarding students and their performance in schools and their training to communicate this data to others, school counselors act as leaders by collaborating and consulting with other stakeholders such as teachers, administrators, family members, and community members. These forms of networking are done with the success and well-being of students in mind (Cooper & Sheffield, 1994; Stone & Dahir, 2006).
The distributed leadership perspective has garnered much attention in the educational community due to it’s success among students and staff. This perspective was further developed from the Distributed Leadership Study (Northwestern University School of Education & Social Policy, 2004) conducted in Chicago Public Schools (Spillane, 2005). The study developed and used a foundation, which the researchers later recognized as distributed, in order to analyze the leadership frameworks currently in play within urban elementary schools (Spillane, 2006). Although distributed leadership has sometimes been a broad quick fix for education, its original pioneers stood by the belief that it is best viewed as a perspective for developing insights for best practices in education, rather than a generalized concept that is easily applicable for diverse populations. It has been noted that because leadership has not been adequately explored and emphasized in both school counseling practice and graduate training, school counselors are not always given credit for their participation in leadership practices (Clark & Stone, 2007). In this regard, the understanding of school counselor leadership practices might be better portrayed when viewed through the lens of the distributed leadership perspective, which highlights crucial components of leadership that may have been previously disregarded. In describing this purpose, (Spillane, 2006) wrote that distributed leadership can focus "attention to hidden dimensions of school leadership," adding that "it can be a way to acknowledge and perhaps even celebrate the many kinds of unglamorous and un-heroic leadership that often go unnoticed in schools" (p. 10). School counselors have typically trudged through much of the work and leadership activities involved with helping students navigate the college preparation and application processes in the high school sector. The distributed leadership perspective, however, serves as a perfect example as to how counselors and school professionals alike can collaborate for the student’s best interest. An example of this can be found in one urban high school in a high-poverty area that has made a commitment to require and assist students in applying for colleges and student financial aid (Militello, Schweid, & Carey, 2008). In this high school, school counselors communicated and collaborated with teachers, administrators, and members of the school's parent-teacher association (PTA). School counselors and the math teachers required students to bring in their parents' financial data necessary for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The language arts teachers helped students to craft more effective personal statements for their college applications. The school counselor, PTA, and the assistant principal worked together to find funding for the college application process for students in need. Finally, this team of leaders changed the graduation policy requiring each student to personally deliver two completed college applications to the principal in order to graduate.
In this example, leadership was disseminated throughout the school. Each leader's specific knowledge and skill sets complimented the task at hand and enhanced the group as a whole. This then resulted in transforming many key frameworks and resources within the school to promote a community of higher educational attainment and overall student success.
Because there is limited research on Hispanic academic success factors, it is necessary to conduct studies on the factors that contribute to a Hispanic middle school student’s success in school. Self-efficacy and motivation has consistently found to be a key component on predicting a child’s academic success. Through the promotion of this type of self-concept and use of the Distributed Counseling model, insights on methods, models, and techniques that are effective with Hispanics have an opportunity to be discovered and recorded. Moreover, this research contributes to an ever-growing population that is in high need of concepts and techniques that work for them. The following research question will help address this need:
Research question: What effect does the distributed counseling model have on 7th grade Hispanic middle school students’ self-efficacy and motivation?
Study Design
The Distributed counseling model participants will meet twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for one hour. They will have a total of 38 sessions. One counselor will facilitate the sessions and also serve as the liaison between students, principal, and teacher facilitators assisting with the counseling group. Approximately four teachers and a principal will collaborate with the counselor to effectively implement the distributed counseling model with the select group of students. The teachers, principal, and counselor will not receive a pay incentive, but they will have the opportunity to accumulate community service hours by serving in these mentorship roles. At the beginning of the counseling group program, teachers and principal will be debriefed as to which students they will be targeting in their classroom to reinforce the distributed group counseling model and skills that the students learned. Teacher facilitators will track students’ academic progress every 9 weeks through the use of GPA and student self-evaluations. Based off the data and feedback, teachers and principal will provide a set of action steps and resources that the counselor reviews prior to presenting to the individual students. The students that are in the experimental group will have various lessons in their sessions that focus on self-efficacy, motivational techniques, and self-regulatory skills. Students in the control group will receive newsletters that provide same content discussed and explained in the experimental group, but they will not receive direct contact or support from the counselor, principal, and teachers, as the experimental group will.
Any 7th grade Hispanic student attending IDEA Brownsville College prep was eligible to participate. However, due to the random sampling nature, once the counselor and principal have randomly selected participants for the program model no others can be drawn. There are no merit-based criteria set in place either. Students and parents are required to sign a waiver before the sessions indicating that they are willing to make a commitment in attending and participating in the Distributed Counseling method sessions, as well as sign a school release form on the school district’s behalf.
In reference to the typical itinerary of the sessions, students will start with a quick warm-up for 10 minutes that focuses on the self-concept skill or mindset being focused on for that day. The next 30 minutes will be a mini-lesson to enhance a student’s self-efficacy. The remaining 12-15 will then be used to give participants time to journal their reactions to that day’s session. The groups will meet at the IDEA Brownsville cafeteria from 9:45-10:45. Students will take the initial pre-test on January 7th. They will then take the post-test on May 31st.
Population and Sample
Twenty-four 7th grade Hispanic middle school students from IDEA Brownsville College prep are going to be used to measure the effectiveness of the distributed counseling model and the effects it has on a student’s self-efficacy and motivation. A random sampling method will be used to prevent any discrepancies or irregularities when it comes to data analysis. The amount of males and females that will be participating in the sessions are still unknown due to the type of sampling method being used. Through the use of random sampling an equal chance of selecting any member of the population is now provided.
Investigative Techniques
Prior to starting their counseling sessions, student participants will be required to fill out student demographic surveys to better understand the population that is being worked with. Throughout the duration of the sessions, students will also be required to complete open-ended journal responses that react to that day’s session. Through the use of open-ended questions, participants have the freedom to express themselves in a manner that does limit the types of responses they will provide.
Students will complete a survey that intakes all of their personal information. This particular survey will inquire about a participant’s gender, age, date of birth, and grade level.
The Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Scale will be used to measure a participant’s level and type of motivation before and after the counseling session program. This instrument is a 30-item, self-report instrument that will be administered to the students to assess motivational orientation (Lepper et al., 2005). It is divided into two subscales: the intrinsic motivation scale (17 items) and the extrinsic motivation scale (13 items). The target audience of the IEMS is primarily children and adolescents. It requires students to rate their personal motivation beliefs on a scale from zero to four. An example of one of the intrinsic motivation scale items reads, “I work on problems to learn how to solve them,” whereas the comparable extrinsic motivation scale item states, “I work on problems because I’m supposed to” (Lepper et al., 2005, p. 187). Due to the type of motivation being assessed, not all parts of the instrument will be utilized. The General Self Efficacy Scale will be used to measure improvements over time in self-efficacy of distributed counseling model program participants. The GSES was developed in Germany in 1979 by Matthias Jerusalem and Ralf Schwarzer. (Jerusalem & Schwarzer, 1979) Through the use of this instrument a general sense of perceived self-efficacy with the aim in mind to predict coping with daily hassles as well as adaptation after experiencing all kinds of stressful life events can now be measured among participants. The scale was designed for the general adult population, including adolescents 12 and up.
Ethical Consideration
IRB approval will be obtained by consent through email. IDEA public schools will also be notified to receive approval for participation in research study. Student assent will first be obtained due to the underage status of the distributed counseling group participants. Parent consent will also be sought to comply with FERPA disclosure policies and guidelines. Participants will be assured that their information will be securely managed and that results will be safely stored. Each participant will be given a pseudonym for identification purposes.

A minor limitation of this study was the sample size of the group. This is the only campus in which the study will be conducted at, so as a result it was not possible to involve other students or neighboring campuses. Given the size and nature of the group, this could in fact be a limitation since the duplication of this study with a similar population may be hard to come by. The central focus of this study was to determine what effect a distributive model had on student self-efficacy and motivation. In terms of analyzing this relationship between positive mentalities and academic success, the inconsistency in a students’ willingness to participate could also be a possible limitation.
Discussion for future research
Keeping in mind that Hispanics have an increased risk of failing (Cataldi et al., 2009), results from this study could possibly assist in identifying the benefits of possessing a strong sense of self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and involvement in the distributed counseling model. This current study also depicts other possible venues for research in regards to Hispanics, more specifically in reference to the distributed counseling model for this population of students and extensive analyzation of other factors that create a child’s unique set of self-beliefs and motivation. As Hispanics continue to progress forward, it is necessary to identify those elements that culminate a student’s success, which may further assist in providing innovative and effective intervention strategies. Thus, this further emphasizes the importance of nurturing a Hispanic middle schooler’s self-efficacy and motivation so students now have the drive to achieve their academic and personal goals. Another alternative for future research could also be the examination of what factors at home and the community contribute to the formation of these types of beliefs and motivations. It is noted that Hispanic middle schoolers who are more interested in their schoolwork, who enjoy learning new and challenging information, and who have mastery goals to accomplish school tasks (Lepper et al., 2005) are more successful in their classes. There were limited studies that briefly mentioned how intrinsic motivation was not associated with students’ performance on standardized achievement tests, as noted in work by (Unrau & Schlackman, 2006) when studying Hispanic students. A possible result of this fact could be best correlated with the notion that this type of motivation is linked by positive and necessary academic behaviors (Otis et al., 2005) that assist with students’ effort and performance in the classroom but may place no part in high stakes testing. However, understanding how crucial of a role motivation plays in a child’s life and that there is limited research for Hispanic adolescents, this type of research could further delve into examining engagement and investment factors in the Hispanic education of adolescents.

References Alonso-Zaldiva, Ricardo., & Tompson, Trevor. USA Today. (2010). 87% of Hispanics value higher education, 13% Have College Degree. Chicago: author. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: the exercise of control. Evaluation and Program Planning. New York, NY: Freeman doi:10.1016/0149-7189(90)90004-G.

Cataldi, E., Laird, J., & KewalRamani, A. (2009). Trends in high school dropout and completion rates in the united states: 1972–2008 (NCES 2009-064). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

Clark, M. A., & Stone, C. B. (2007). The developmental school counselor as educational leader. In J. Wittmer (Ed.), Managing Your School Counseling Program (3rd ed., pp. 82-90). Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media.

Cooper, D. E., & Sheffield, S. B. (1994).The principal-counselor relationship in a quality high school. In D. G. Burgess & R. M. Dedmond (Eds.), Quality leadership and the Professional School Counselor (pp. 101-114). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

House, R., & Martin, P. (1998). Advocating for better futures for all students: a new vision for school counselors. Education, 119, 284-291.

Lepper, M., Corpus, J., & Iyengar, S. (2005). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic correlates. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 97, 184-196. DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.2.184

Militello, M., Schweid, J., & Carey, J. C. (2008). Si Se Puedes! How educators engage in open, collaborative systems of practice to affect college placement rates of low-income students. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York.

Northwestern University School of Education & Social Policy. (2004). The Distributed Leadership Study. Chicago: author. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from

Otis, N., Grouzet, M., & Pelletier, L. (2005). Latent motivational change in an academic setting: A 3-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology,
97, 170-183. DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.2.170

Pajares, F. (2002). Gender and perceived self-efficacy in self-regulated learning. Theory Into Practice, 41, 116-225. DOI: 10.1207/s15430421tip4102_8

Spillane, J. P. (2005). Distributed leadership. The Educational Forum, 69, 143-150.

Spillane, J. P. (2006). Distributed leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stone, C., & Dahir, C. (2006). The transformed school counselor. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Unrau, N., & Schlackman, J. (2006). Motivation and its relationship with reading achievement in an urban middle school. The Journal of Educational Research,
100, 81-101.

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