Licensure requirements to become a professional school counselor in Ohio no longer call for potential school counselor candidates to have mandatory teaching experience. While organizations such as the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and the American School Counselor Association have recently advocated for new directions and roles within the school counseling profession, many traditional historical school counselor roles and tasks remain a part of the school counselor's professional reality. As a result of this changing nature of the professional school counselor role, new school counselors both with and without prior experience as teachers may face professional challenges. As the school counseling profession in Ohio becomes increasingly diverse with new school counselors now coming from backgrounds in education as well as backgrounds outside of education, it is important to understand the impact these background variables have on school counselors.
Using Bandura's self-efficacy theory, this study compared the self-efficacy of school counselors with and without teaching experience. Participants included 129 professional members from the Ohio School Counselor Association membership database. Participants were asked to complete the School Counselor Self-Efficacy Scale developed by Bodenhorn and Skaggs (2005) which consists of five subscales: Personal & Social Development, Leadership & Assessment, Career & Academic Development, Collaboration, and Cultural Acceptance. Participants were also asked to respond to two open-ended questions asking respondents to identify positive and negative factors impacting their professional self-efficacy.
Analysis of the data using t-Tests of independent samples showed significant differences in self-efficacy between school counselors with and without teaching experience on the Personal & Social Development, Leadership & Assessment, and Collaboration subscales as well as on the overall scale. It is important to note, however, that the effect sizes were very small accounting for less than 5% of variance within the sample. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to explore self-efficacy among counselors at different levels of school counselor practice, and no interaction was found between levels of practice. Pearson correlation tests revealed relationships between school counselor age and the Personal & Social Development and Collaboration subscales and on the overall scale. Multiple regression revealed age to be a predictor of self-efficacy on Personal & Social Development and Collaboration and teaching experience was found to be a predictor of Leadership & Assessment and the overall scale. Again, it is important to note that these models generated very small effect sizes accounting for 3 - 6% of variance in the sample.
A content analysis of the open-ended responses showed a number of common factors affecting self-efficacy expressed by both groups. School counselors with and without teaching experience identified supportive administration, experience, supportive staff, and professional development as factors positively impacting their professional self-efficacy. Both groups identified caseload, nonsupportive staff, administrator misunderstanding of counselor role, nonsupportive administration, and unsuccessful experience as factors negatively impacting their professional self-efficacy. Results of the data analysis are discussed in context of self-efficacy theory, and implications and opportunities for future research are presented.