Teaching Experience for School Counselors: Counselor Educators' Perceptions

Article excerpt

Throughout the past 35 years, there has raged a debate about whether or not school counselors should be classroom teachers first (Baker & Herr, 1976; Barret & Schmidt, 1986; Lister, 1969; Olson & Allen, 1993; Percy, 1996; also see Baker, 1994, for an extensive review of the literature). In 1970, at least 33 states mandated prior teaching experience as part of their school counselor certification requirements (Dudley & Ruff, 1970). Though recent efforts have indicated a growing trend toward allowing nonteachers to be trained and certified as school counselors (Paisley & Hubbard, 1989), there are still 16 states that maintain teaching experience as a certification requirement (Randolph & Masker, 1997).

Studies related to the teaching experience argument have focused on the perceptions of principals, state administrators (Dilley, Foster, & Bowers, 1973; Olson & Allen, 1993; Paisley & Hubbard, 1989), and most recently, teachers (Quarto, 1999) regarding the effectiveness of school counselors with and without teaching experience. Results of these studies indicate that while principals most often perceive school counselors without teaching experience to be as effective as their colleagues who have prior teaching experience (Baker & Herr, 1976; Beale, 1995; Dilley et al., 1973; Lister, 1969; Olsen & Allen, 1993; White & Parsons, 1974), teachers may perceive school counselors with prior teaching experience to be more effective than their nonteacher peers (Quarto, 1999). Quarto attributed teachers' perceptions either to their relatively closer working relationship with school counselors or to their inherent bias toward school counselors with teaching experience. Based on the existing research, it remains difficult to draw conclusions regarding whether school personnel continue to believe that school counselors need prior teaching experience.

Although perceptions of school personnel have been considered in the literature, only one study has been conducted that examined counselor educators' perceptions of the need for teaching experience for school counselors. Rochester and Cottingham (1966) examined counselor educators' beliefs and the reasons cited for their beliefs concerning the necessity of teaching experience for school counselors. In 1964, a slight majority of counselor educators felt that teaching experience was not essential. However, almost half of surveyed counselor educators believed teaching experience to be absolutely necessary. The authors concluded that "strong opinions supported by both philosophical and practical reasons" existed on both sides of the teaching experience argument, and moreover, it seemed that many counselor educators believed teaching experience to be helpful, but not necessary (Rochester & Cottingham, 1966, p. 180).

Since the time of the Rochester and Cottingham (1966) study, it has been widely suggested that the teaching experience requirement is perpetuated more by emotionality than reality (Olsen & Allen, 1993; Percy, 1996; White & Parsons, 1974). With the trend toward eradicating the teaching requirement, the authors of this article were interested in determining whether or not there is a similar trend in counselor educators' professional perceptions regarding this tenacious issue. In addition, we were interested in whether the professional perceptions of counselor educators were related to state department of education requirements and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accreditation status of their department. In a recent article in Counseling Today, it was stated that counselor educators "argue that the teaching requirement is outdated, potentially harmful, and not based on any research" (Morrissey, 1998, p. 14). Similarly, we hypothesized that there is, indeed, a growing trend among counselor educators' perceptions that the teaching requirement is no longer necessary. …