Cybersupervision: Further Examination of Synchronous and Asynchronous Modalities in Counseling Practicum Supervision
Chapman, Russell A., Baker, Stanley B., Nassar-McMillan, Sylvia C., Gerler, Edwin R., Jr., Counselor Education and Supervision
The authors used an intensive single-subject quantitative design to examine cybersupervision of counseling practicum students in a university setting. Five female supervisees volunteered to receive their required weekly supervision online during a 14-week, semester-long counseling practicum. Following a face-to-face orientation meeting, all remaining interactions among the supervisees and with the supervisor occurred electronically. Data were collected about the utility of the synchronous and asynchronous modalities, changes in supervisee competence and confidence during the practicum, and supervisee attitudes about the cybersupervision approach. The findings offered evidence that the web-based modality could be used in similar settings.
The growing influence of distance education programs in counselor education, such as those for Argosy, Capella, and Walden universities, seems to be well established. Yet, the distance education model poses special challenges for counselor educators in the professional practice domain because the traditional approach in counseling practicum supervision does not seem to lend itself easily to anything other than a face-to-face (FtF) interaction between supervisors and supervisees. On the other hand, there are practical and conceptual reasons to determine whether counseling practicum supervision can be conducted successfully via the distance education model. The goal of the present study was to evaluate a 14-week counseling practicum supervision conducted via the World Wide Web.
Watson (2003) investigated the potential of applying technology-based instructional methods to counseling practicum interactions between supervisors and supervisees. Watson referred to this process in which interactions occur via the World Wide Web as cybersupervision. According to Watson, the advantages of cybersupervision were (a) more productive supervision sessions because of the convenience of scheduling, (b) the opportunity to experience a better selection of more advantageous supervision sites, (c) more effective use of supervisee time, and (d) a larger pool of available supervisors. Disadvantages included (a) the expense of the technology, (b) reliance on the technological sophistication of both the supervisors and the supervisees, and (c) the lack of face-to-face contact between supervisors and supervisees. Watson predicted that technology would revolutionize and play an increasingly more significant role in the counseling supervision process.
Previous research related to components of cybersupervision has been promising. The findings have highlighted the potential of both synchronous (real time; e.g., web chats and web camera) and asynchronous (delayed time; e.g., discussion threads and e-mail) personal communication in counseling and therapy and in teaching and learning. The present study evolved from three previous cybersupervision studies that are highlighted in the following paragraphs.
Stebnicki and Glover (2001) conducted an exploratory qualitative study of a small sample (N = 5) of master's-level rehabilitation counseling trainees during their counseling practicum. The form of cybersupervision studied was asynchronous, that is, it entailed the use of e-mail communications during the supervision process. The participants received FtF group and individual supervision from a doctoral-level supervisor over 16 weeks. They were instructed to send weekly email messages (preferably during the time between the FtF sessions) to the faculty clinical supervisor about practicum site issues, issues regarding clients or their therapeutic treatment, or personal insight reactions. One hundred and fifty-eight e-mail messages were received and submitted to a thematic analysis. Supervisees benefited from the experience in the following ways: (a) increased support through their access to supervisors, (b) more relaxed and informal communications with supervisors, (c) increased comfort when disclosing personal feelings related to the practicum experience, and (d) a greater commitment from both supervisees and supervisors to process and clarify their thoughts. An important benefit of the e-mail option was that supervisees were able to reflect and act on issues immediately after reading the supervisors' comments rather than waiting until their next FtF sessions. Stebnicki and Glover noted several limitations to their asynchronous interactions. For example, some situations, such as ethical issues, demand an immediate or urgent response from the supervisor rather than an e-mail communication and the communication process is limited by the supervisors' inability to focus on the supervisees' nonverbal behaviors and parallel experiences.
In another qualitative study of the effects of e-mail (i.e., asynchronous) communications in the counseling practicum setting, Clingerman and Bernard (2004) provided some support for the work of Stebnicki and Glover (2001). Nineteen master's-level practicum students were required to send one e-mail message per week to their practicum supervisors for 15 weeks, sharing whatever was on their mind. The supervisors were advised to respond to each message in a way that would encourage supervisees to bring the issues to the next FtF meetings. A set of 137 sent e-mail messages was analyzed by a group of eight doctoral students and three faculty members who identified 320 distinct messages and classified them according to four categories: intervention, conceptualization, personalization, and professional behavior. The most robust and most consistent focus of the supervisees' messages was personal reflections (e.g., anxieties and triumphs). The comparatively small number of messages about case conceptualization could have been a function of the process being asynchronous and the supervisees being able to deal with conceptual processing during the FtF meetings with supervisors. As was the case with the Stebnicki and Glover study, Clingerman and Bernard found that continuous e-mail interactions between supervisees and supervisors were useful in the practicum supervision process, yet the level of usefulness was somewhat unclear. Of the potential reasons behind the uncertainty, one that occurred to us was that the interactions were limited by being asynchronous because of temporal delays in the interactions and the difficulty associated with trying to engage in substantive conversations via a series of e-mail messages.
Although promising, the investigations by Stebnicki and Glover (2001) and Clingerman and Bernard (2004) were limited to asynchronous interactions. Coker, Jones, Staples, and Harbach (2002) reported findings from two pilot preexperimental studies that focused on synchronous cybersupervision strategies during counseling practica. In the first study, eight practicum students provided two online sessions with undergraduate clients for whom the practicum students interpreted a short career interest inventory. One session used a text-chat format and the second used a text-chat plus video format. Clients rated the supervisees and completed a supervisory working alliance inventory, and the overall ratings were quite positive. There were no statistically significant differences between the ratings for the two synchronous modalities used in the study, a finding that could possibly have been attributed to low statistical power due to the small sample size.
In the second Coker et al. (2002) study, five students who were enrolled in a traditional FtF practicum supervision course received five FtF and five online supervision sessions via an alternating format over the course of a semester. The online sessions consisted of a text-chat program in one window of the computer monitor and the supervisor's notes in another window for simultaneous viewing by the supervisees and supervisors. The analysis focused on comparing supervisee ratings of the FtF and the online modalities. The ratings of the two modalities were not different statistically, which could have been attributed to the small sample size. The participants identified strengths and weaknesses related to the addition of the cybersupervision component. Coker et al. concluded that the supervisees seemed amenable to additional supervision via the cybersupervision modality. They also pointed out that even though text-chat was synchronous, it had limitations when compared with FtF supervision. Comments from some of the students indicated that they missed attributes of FtF interactions, such as being able to engage in conversations more easily and to see nonverbal facial and body movements.
Important Characteristics of the Counseling Practicum Supervision Process
Although traditional counseling supervision models have been based on the FtF approach, their tenets seem to be universal and therefore applicable to a cybersupervision framework. Bernard and Goodyear (2004) offered two main goals for the counseling practicum supervision process: (a) supervision should be connected to teaching and learning and (b) there should be a focus on supervisee and client welfare. Bernard (1997) suggested that the protection and enhancement of supervisee and client welfare were related to a holistic supervision process that includes teaching and mentoring of, consulting with, and counseling of supervisees by supervisors. Through these roles, supervisors were challenged to lead supervisees to appropriate levels of confidence and competence that ensured the welfare both of supervisees and of their clients.
The seminal work of Loganbill, Hardy, and Delworth (1982) described counseling practicum supervision as an intensive, interpersonally focused one-to-one relationship in which one person (the supervisor) was designated as being responsible for facilitating the development of therapeutic counseling competence in the other person (the supervisee). In addition, Loganbill et al. conceptualized counseling supervision as a developmental process through which supervisors helped counseling practicum supervisees to acquire increasing levels of competence.
Purpose of the Present Research
There is evidence from preexperimental and qualitative descriptive studies that cybersupervision may be an appropriate modality for the counseling practicum supervision process (Clingerman & Bernard, 2004; Coker et al., 2002; Stebnicki & Glover, 2001). Most of the evidence to date is based on asynchronous rather than synchronous modalities. The present study was an attempt to build on the previous research related to the cybersupervision concept that had focused primarily on asynchronous interactions. The following elements of the present study are variables that build on previous research findings: (a) assessing the utility of both synchronous and asynchronous modalities; (b) acquiring data over the duration of the counseling practicum about supervisee development related to traditional outcome variables (i.e., competence and confidence); (c) providing the supervisees with an opportunity to share their attitudes about the cybersupervision process; (d) using a descriptive field study design that has high potential for external validity (generalizability) based on the findings of Heppner, Wampold, and Kivlighan (2008); and (e) conducting the study within a typical counseling supervision framework (i.e., one supervisor providing individual and group supervision for a set of supervisees). In the present study, confidence was defined as counseling self-efficacy, that is, beliefs or judgments about one's capacity to counsel clients effectively (Larson & Daniels, 1998). Competence was defined as the skills novice counselors are to master in order to engage in effective counseling relationships (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004).
The goal of the present study was to examine an application of the cybersupervision idea consisting of the elements just listed. One section of a 14-week university counseling practicum was conducted exclusively online. Supervisee competence, confidence, and satisfaction data were collected and reported, and the data analysis examined the utility of the cybersupervision approach to counseling supervision.
In the present study, we used an intensive single-subject quantitative design replicated five times. A defining feature of this design is "systematic, repeated, and multiple observations of a client, dyad, or group to identify and compare relationships among variables (Heppner et al., 2008, p. 199). Common features of single-subject designs manifested in the present study are (a) repeated measurement of the dependent variables over time, (b) treatment phases, and (c) stability of baseline data. The study consisted of two phases: baseline (A) and intervention (B). Five replications of the design enhanced the external validity (i.e., generalizability) of the study. The single-subject quantitative design was selected because the between-groups approach was not deemed appropriate because of insufficient sample size for statistical power, the potential for obscuring individual variations within group averages, and the one-to-one nature of clinical practicum supervision. The design provided an opportunity to carefully scrutinize the cybersupervision process--a relatively new, innovative methodology.
Supervisees. Master's-level supervisees enrolled in a 14-week counseling practicum were given the opportunity to be supervised via the FtF process or via the cybersupervision approach. Five female supervisees volunteered to participate in a cybersupervision section of the course rather than the traditional FtF sections. The decision to participate in the online counseling practicum supervision section was made after the opportunity to participate had been presented to all of the prepracticum students at the close of their prepracticum course that had taken place during the previous spring semester. The present study was approved by the university's institutional review board, and all the participants reviewed the informed consent information prior to agreeing to participate. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited the program in which the master's-level supervisees were enrolled, which was in a large, south-eastern, Research I land-grant university. All of the supervisees had successfully completed 30 to 33 credits of course work, including a prepracticum class during the previous semester, prior to enrolling in the counseling supervision practicum. The participants ranged in age from 25 to 35 years, with a mean of 27.4 years. One participant was Hispanic, one was Egyptian American, and the remaining three were European American.
All participants had a functional level of the technological knowledge (e.g., synchronous and asynchronous communications, uploading digital video) required for the study. These experiences did not appear to be confounders because the WebCT (i.e., an online virtual learning environment) site for the present study was set up for the basic introductory distance education learner. All participants had access to the requisite technology both at the practicum sites and at their home.
Supervisor. The cybersupervision practicum supervisor was a 41-year-old, male European American (the first author) who was an advanced doctoral student working on his dissertation study in a CACREP-accredited doctoral program at the same university attended by the supervisees. He had successfully completed a required traditional FtF doctoral-level counseling supervision practicum and had voluntarily enrolled in the doctoral-level supervision practicum again to offer the cybersupervision section for the present study. He had extensive teaching experience at the undergraduate level and in distance learning modalities and was familiar with and accustomed to the technology used in the present study. The practicum supervisor was supervised in turn by the university faculty member (the third author) who was indirectly responsible for all of the supervisees in the practicum and directly responsible for supervision of all of the doctoral-level supervisors, the FtF sections as well as the cybersupervision section. For the duration of the semester, she provided individual supervision for the cybersupervision practicum supervisor, which included monitoring evaluations of the supervisees' levels of competence and confidence.
The online cybersupervision process was implemented through a one-semester, 14-week WebCT course delivery system. The cybersupervision consisted of four synchronous and asynchronous electronic distance instruction components: (a) discussion threads, (b) electronic mail, (c) VHS video, and (d) text chat. Discussion threads, averaging three per week, were presented by the supervisor to the five supervisees throughout of the practicum. Supervision strategies common to the traditional FtF small-group practicum approach were used in the discussion threads from the supervisor and the text chats between the supervisor and the supervisees. These approaches included the following: (a) supervisees were invited each week to share their most significant practicum experiences and to interact with each other by asking follow-up questions and seeking feedback; (b) the supervisor presented group discussion topics such as counseling theory orientations, ethics, and psychological testing; and (c) students led weekly interactive presentations and analyses of case studies.
The supervisor and supervisees communicated by e-mail for the duration of the semester to deal with all of the typical and atypical matters that arise in any counseling practicum supervision process. The supervisor used VHS or digital video recordings made by the supervisees to observe and critique their counseling sessions. Each of
the supervisees submitted their recordings to the program assistant for the counselor education program in the present study, and she, in turn, sent them to the supervisor via secured private shipping services.
The text chat modality was used for individual supervision (1 hour per week) and group supervision (2 hours per week). There were seven secure and confidential chat rooms: (a) one for the supervisor and each supervisee (N = 5), (b) one for the supervisor and the group of supervisees, and (c) one for the doctoral-level supervisor and the faculty member supervising him. As previously indicated, the group chat room was used for the discussion threads. The individual chat rooms provided each supervisee with an opportunity to engage in typical supervisory interactions synchronously.
The primary supervision framework that was the foundation for the supervisor's approach to counseling practicum supervision was Bernard's (1997) Discrimination Model of Supervision (DMS). Highlights from this model are the emphases on the mentor, teacher, consultant, and counselor-therapist social role models. In the DMS, supervisors tailor responses to specific supervisee needs, allowing for flexibility within sessions and from session to session.
The guidelines for online instruction in counselor education published by the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES Technology Interest Network, 1999) served as a foundation for structuring the content and process of the cybersupervision course in the present study. These guidelines address course quality, course content and objectives, instructional support, faculty qualifications, instructor course evaluations, technological standards, and grievance procedures.
Supervisee counseling competence. The Poling (1980) Interview Rating Scale (IRS) served as the competence measure in the present study. The counselor education program in the present study has used the IRS for 2 decades as a criterion measure for minimum levels of performance when determining whether or not supervisees are successful in the entry-level counseling practicum. The IRS has been a consistently valid criterion of successful performance of basic counseling behaviors in the training program. That is, the content of the IRS was found to adequately represent the criteria that the program faculty (using the CACREP standards as a foundation for their position) have deemed important for evaluating the competence of practicum supervisees via critiques of videotaped recordings of real counseling interviews. The supervisor used a 5-point scale (from 5 = best to 1 = least) to rate supervisees across four of the scale's criterion categories: interaction, reflections of feelings, student counselor responses, and general techniques. Each category has companion questions for raters to use that serve as behavioral anchors on which to base their judgments. A sample item is as follows. The category is reflections of feelings and the companion question is "Did the student counselor react to feeling or did the interview remain on an intellectual level?" IRS total scores
range from 1 to 5. They are determined by adding the ratings from each of the four items and dividing that total by 4.
Supervisee counseling confidence. We used the strength of self-efficacy component of the Counselor Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES; Baker, 2002) as a measure of supervisee confidence. The CSES assesses one's beliefs or judgments about the capacity to counsel clients effectively (Larson & Daniels, 1998). Self-efficacy scales developed by Bandura (1977), Bandura, Adams, Hardy, and Howells (1980), and Betz and Hackett (1981) served as models for the CSES. The scale provides a list of 33 desirable counseling behaviors presented, in order, from most basic ("Verbally invite the client to talk about whatever he or she wants to share") to more complex ("Role play someone in the client's life in order to help the client practice responses during a counseling session"). Participants were instructed to respond to the statements by checking each one that they felt confident in performing at the moment and then indicating their level of confidence in being able to perform that behavior on a scale of 0 (no confidence) to 100 (complete confidence). Two scores are derived. The total number of items checked ranges from zero to 33 and provides the level of self-efficacy score for each participant. The total of the confidence level ratings is divided by the number of items checked and provides the strength of self-efficacy score. Strength of counselor self-efficacy scores range from zero to 100. Content validity for the items is based on material found in Cormier and Cormier (1998), Egan (1998), and Ivey (1994). That is, the original CSES scale items mirrored specific basic and advanced counselor competencies cited in those texts, and a panel of experienced counselor educators and counseling psychologists agreed that the CSES items accurately represented those competencies. Test-retest correlations over 2 weeks for a 26-item version of the CSES were .78 for level and .88 for strength, and alpha coefficients for strength were .95 and .97 (Johnson, Baker, Kopala, Kiselica, & Thompson, 1989).
Supervisee Attitude Measures
The two measures described in the following subsections were developed for the present study by the research team (the authors of this article). In addition to assessing the participants' levels of confidence and competence over the duration of the study, the research team was also concerned about participant attitudes toward the educational technology distance education modality both at the beginning and at the end of the intervention. Two measures were created to assess these attitudes. The steps in the content validity process for both of these instruments were as follows: (a) establish goals for the instruments based on the literature review that preceded the study (e.g., assess basic technology proficiencies and comfort with online distance education), (b) create a pool of questions that were derived from the goals, (c) have a panel of qualified individuals (i.e., judges) attempt to match the goals with the questions in the pool, and (d) select the questions that were deemed to be congruent with the measure's goals by the majority of the judges.
Presupervision measure. The Computer Competency and Comfort Scale (CCCS; Chapman, 2008) is a self-report scale designed to assess the participants' basic technology proficiencies and comfort with the online distance education process. The scale contains 10 questions, with a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (excels in this area) that respondents used to rate their perceived levels of confidence and comfort with the various technologies (e.g., e-mail, e-mail with attachments, chat rooms, Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, instant messaging, WebCT). A sample item is "What is your proficiency in sending an e-mail with an attachment." CCCS total scores range from 1 to 5. Confidence and comfort levels are determined by adding the ratings from each of the 10 items and dividing that total by 10.
Postsupervision measure. The Distance Education Course Satisfaction Inventory (DECSI; Chapman, 2008) is a self-report scale designed to assess perceived increases in technological sophistication and satisfaction with the cybersupervision process at the end of the counseling practicum supervision and this study. An example of a satisfaction assessment item is "From your perspective as a participant in this cybersupervision experience, how would you rate the availability of your supervisor?" There are 20 questions used by the respondents to rate their perceived levels of sophistication and satisfaction on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (excels in this area). The DECSI includes questions from the CCCS that were changed to reflect a retrospective orientation and offers additional questions about satisfaction with the supervision experience. DECSI total scores range from 1 to 5. They are determined by adding the ratings from each of the 20 items and dividing that total by 20.
Data collection. Collection of Phase A (baseline) data for the CSES measure began at the end of the spring semester preceding the study when all prospective supervisees were enrolled in a prepracticum course. A second data collection point during Phase A occurred in midsummer when the supervisor mailed the CSES to the supervisees. and they completed and mailed it back to him. The third data point during Phase A occurred just prior to the beginning of the fall semester practicum course in which the participants were enrolled. These data established the baseline for this study. All the measures completed by the supervisees throughout the study were done independently. A joint FtF group orientation meeting between the supervisor and the supervisees occurred during the 1st week of the practicum semester. The only collection of CCCS data lot each supervisee took place at the close of that joint meeting. During Phase B (counseling practicum supervision), all of the supervisees submitted their completed CSES forms to the supervisor via e-mail each week during the remainder of the semester. The supervisor used the IRS to rate supervisee performance on submitted recordings of their counseling interviews during the entire semester. All of the supervisees completed the DECSI during Week 14 and submitted it to the supervisor electronically.
Data analysis. The data for the CSES measure were plotted graphically over the 17 weeks of the study: Phase A (3 weeks) and the counseling practicum supervision Phase B (14 weeks). The graph provided data for examining changes in the measures of supervisee counseling self-efficacy for the duration of the baseline and supervision phases (Heppner et al., 2008). Raw scores for the IRS data over the 10-week period of Weeks 3 through 7 and 9 through 13 of Phase B were reported descriptively in tabular form. Group mean scores were determined for the CCCS and DECSI and reported in tabular form. Data collection for the IRS began with Week 3 because the supervisees needed time to set up appointments with clients who agreed to be videotaped and to critique and submit their recorded interviews. The break between Weeks 7 and 9 was devoted to midsemester reviews of supervisee progress by the supervisor.
Supervisee Counseling Competence
Beginning with Week 3 of the practicum, after having received sufficient evidence of the supervisees' performances from recorded counseling interviews, the supervisor began rating their performances on the IRS. The findings for all five supervisees are reported in Table 1. Although individual differences occurred from week to week, the general patterns for the five supervisees appear quite similar. The supervisor's counseling competence ratings for all five supervisees were initially in the range of 3.00 to 3.25. By Week 7 of the semester, four supervisees were in the range of 4.25 to 4.50, and one was at 3.38. By Week 10, all five supervisees were in a range between 4.13 and 4.88, and all were rated at 5.00 at the close of the practicum. All of the supervisor's IRS ratings were monitored and approved by the faculty member supervising him.
Supervisee Counseling Confidence
The findings from the CSES are reported graphically in Figure 1. Because of the visual confusion associated with presenting five supervisees graphically in one figure, the lowest baseline (Supervisee 1), highest baseline (Supervisee 3), and midrange baseline (Supervisee 4) data are presented in Figure 1. The pattern for Supervisee 1 appears to be the most dramatic because she started at a low level (27 to 30) during the baseline phase (Phase A) and immediately jumped to 52 when the practicum began. From there, her confidence increased to a strength of self-efficacy score of 80 at the end of the semester. Changes for the remaining four supervisees were less dramatic because they were at relatively high levels of strength of counselor self-efficacy during the baseline phase (67 to 90). Despite beginning the practicum with relatively strong counselor self-efficacy ratings, these three supervisees all reported increases in counseling confidence over the duration of the semester.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Supervisee Attitude Measures
Results of the presupervision assessment (using the CCCS) of computer competence and comfort and the postsupervision assessment (using the DECSI) of computer competence and comfort and course satisfaction are presented in Table 2. There was variation in self-perceived levels of computer competence and comfort at the beginning of the practicum. Supervisees 1 and 4 had average scores (i.e., approximately 3.00), Supervisees 2 and 3 had high scores (i.e., above 4.50), and Supervisee 5 was between the others (i.e., 4.30). At the end of the practicum experience, all five supervisees indicated high levels of computer comfort and confidence and course satisfaction on the DECSI (all scores above 4.50).
The findings indicate that the supervisor and supervisees in the present study were able to communicate successfully via both the synchronous and asynchronous modalities. This outcome is important because of the contrast with the findings of Stebnicki and Glover (2001) and Clingerman and Bernard (2004), who reported limited usefulness for the asynchronous mode, and of Coker et al. (2002), who mentioned some limitations about the synchronous mode (i.e., text chat) when compared with FtF supervision. Specific characteristics of the present study may have caused the cybersupervision modality to seem more advantageous than it did in the studies just cited. The supervisor had considerable experience and expertise in technology-based distance education. Moreover, the supervisees had access to the requisite technology and had volunteered to participate in the cybersupervision section of the practicum. Their specific reasons for participating were not assessed in the present study. Therefore, their successful response to the asynchronous mode in the present study may have been due to the high level of technology sophistication possessed by both the participants and the supervisors at the outset. On the other hand, participants in the present study may have chosen to take part merely because the distance education approach was more convenient for them. Future studies might include information about the reasons that supervisees consent to participate, assess how those reasons may influence their performance, and compare the performance and attitudes of supervisees with different levels of technological sophistication.
It appeared that the supervisor's access to data about the supervisees' development on the counseling competence and confidence dimensions over the course of the practicum was similar to that which might be derived during FtF practica. Supervisor ratings of supervisee counseling competence and self-report data on counseling self-confidence collected for the duration of the semester provided what appeared to be useful information about supervisee development as counselors. The supervisee counseling competence and confidence data were not compared with the supervisees in the concurrent FtF supervision sections. Therefore, no inferences could be made about whether the improvements indicated on the IRS and the CSES data were less than, equal to, or greater than those for the supervisees in the FtF sections. Given the apparent potential for cybersupervision indicated in the present study, perhaps future studies should focus on comparing FtF and cybersupervision modes on variables such as increased counseling competence and confidence over time and attitudes toward the respective approaches.
The pre- and poststudy attitude measures provided interesting information about the cybersupervision modality from the supervisees' perspective. The supervisees in the present study seemed comfortable with the distance technology education approach at the outset and indicated their satisfaction with it at the end of the semester. They also indicated having increased their technology education sophistication levels by the end of the semester. The halo effect could have occurred because the supervisees had purposely selected the cybersupervision approach and may have wanted it to appear successful beforehand and afterward. Future studies might focus on differences in course satisfaction levels between supervisees enrolled in FtF versus cybersupervision practica.
As long as cybersupervision is considered an innovative approach, forcing supervisees to participate will be unethical. If or when cybersupervision is considered an equal option to FtF supervision, and in cases in which it may be the only option available, it would be interesting to view attitude data from supervisees who had no other option. Other issues such as supervisees' access to requisite technology and their technological sophistication would also have to be taken into consideration.
The present study occurred in a natural setting. The participants were from the population of interest (i.e., practicum supervisees), there was a real-life setting (i.e., university supervision practicum), and there were no experimental controls (e.g., randomization, manipulation of variables). Heppner et al. (2008) referred to these designs as "descriptive field studies that have high external and low internal validity" (p. 71). Heppner et al. (2008) continued:
For a study to be truly high in external validity, the data gathering process must have sufficient impact on the participants to disrupt their normal set of actions. The two most common examples of this type of study are retrospective studies.... and single-subject studies in individual counseling. (p. 71)
Data from five replications of the single-subject design in the present study seem to have added to the potential for external validity. One cannot be sure that supervisors with less teaching experience and technological expertise would be as successful using the cybersupervision approach. We cannot use the findings of the present study to vouch for cybersupervision efforts in which the supervisees are required to participate, have not received sufficient orientation to the online process, and do not have access to sufficient technology to participate successfully.
The external validity of the present study seems sufficient to recommend practical implications for using the cybersupervision modality in settings in which the conditions are reasonably similar to those in the present study. In such settings, the supervisor would need to have considerable experience teaching via the online medium and to have previously supervised another group of entry-level counseling practicum students by the FtF approach. The supervisees would need to volunteer to participate in the cybersupervision practicum experience and either have had previous exposure to online learning or have benefited from an orientation to the online learning mechanics. In addition, the supervisor and the supervisees would need to have sufficient access to the technology that is necessary for successful synchronous and asynchronous communications.
Future descriptive field research might focus on modifications of the aforementioned specifications. Should supervisors choose not to adhere to these recommendations, the following questions seem pertinent. What will happen when the supervisor does not have previous experience with FtF supervision? How important is it for supervisors and supervisees to have relatively equal access to and knowledge about the basic requisite technology? Can lack of supervisor and supervisee technology sophistication be addressed by requisite technology training prior to the practicum? Findings from descriptive field research studies often set the stage for experimental studies, and we have suggested several ideas for between-groups experimental studies.
Limitations of the present study were as follows. The potential for role conflict and corresponding researcher bias were inherent in the supervisor as researcher model. This bias was mitigated by the supervision of the supervisor-researcher by a program faculty member. Each of the supervisees also received supervision from professional counselors at their field placement sites, and how much those concurrent interactions contributed to the supervisees' development was not assessed. Some of the dependent measures were developed for the present study (i.e., CCCS and DECSI) or were relatively dated (i.e., IRS), not cited often in the literature (i.e., CSES), and had limited psychometric support (i.e., IRS). Although the research team may have believed that the dependent measures were reliable and valid, support in the professional literature was limited. Lack of experimental control made it difficult to exclude rival hypotheses that may have explained the supervisees' performance. Although the advantages of single-subject designs include participants knowing the goals of the study in advance of data collection, a corresponding disadvantage is the potential for a halo effect. Even though the present study contained five replications, some researchers may believe that the sample size in the present study was not an adequate test of the cybersupervision modality. Because the present study was descriptive rather than experimental in nature, questions about differences between cybersupervision and FtF supervision were not addressed.
Our final thought about further research is to caution that although cybersupervision appears to be a viable option for conducting counseling practica for entry-level counselors, there is currently no evidence that it is superior to or that it should be a replacement for the traditional FtF supervision approach. Engaging in research investigations that compare the traditional FtF and cybersupervision approaches for the purpose of establishing superiority of one over the other does not seem to be a worthwhile endeavor presently because there seems to be no need to eliminate one to promote the other. We believe our profession will be served better by being open to the merits of both counseling supervision approaches in the immediate future.
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Russell A. Chapman. Stanley B. Baker, Sylvia C. Nassar-McMillan, and Edwin R. Gerler Jr., Curriculum Instruction and Counselor Education, North Carolina State University, Russell A. Chapman is now at Counseling Psychology. Argosy University. San Francisco Bay Area. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stanley B. Baker. Curriculum Instruction and Counselor Education. North Carolina State University. 2310 Stinson Drive. CB 7801. Raleigh. NC 27695-7801 (e-mail: Stanley_Baker@ncsu.edu).
TABLE 1 Raw Data for Supervisor Ratings of Supervisee Counseling Competence on the Interview Rating Scale (IRS) Across All Supervisees Weekly Observation IRS Data by Supervisee at Treatment Phase 1 2 3 4 5 1 -- -- -- -- -- 2 -- -- -- -- -- 3 3.13 3.13 3.25 3.10 3.00 4 3.50 3.63 3.63 4.00 3.13 5 3.50 3.63 3.75 4.13 3.38 6 3.25 4.38 3.38 4.50 4.38 7 4.25 4.38 3.38 4.50 4.38 8 9 4.25 4.88 4.75 4.75 4.38 10 4.13 4.88 4.75 4.75 4.50 11 4.75 5.00 5.00 4.63 4.75 12 4.80 5.00 5.00 4.63 4.75 13 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 5.00 14 Note. Maximum score on the IRS = 5.00. Dashes indicate that data were not obtained for Weeks 1 and 2. TABLE 2 Average Supervisee Ratings on Attitude Measures Supervisee CCCS DESCI 1 3.10 4.60 2 4.70 4.85 3 4.60 4.95 4 3.00 4.75 5 4.30 4.85 Total average 3.90 4.80 Note. CCCS = Computer Competency and Comfort Scale (presupervision measure; maximum score = 5.00; DESCI = Distance Education Course Satisfaction Inventory (postintervention measure; maximum score = 5.00).…
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Publication information: Article title: Cybersupervision: Further Examination of Synchronous and Asynchronous Modalities in Counseling Practicum Supervision. Contributors: Chapman, Russell A. - Author, Baker, Stanley B. - Author, Nassar-McMillan, Sylvia C. - Author, Gerler, Edwin R., Jr. - Author. Journal title: Counselor Education and Supervision. Volume: 50. Issue: 5 Publication date: September 2011. Page number: 298+. © 2007 American Counseling Association. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.