Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Investigation of a Model of Academic Motivation for School Counseling

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Investigation of a Model of Academic Motivation for School Counseling

Article excerpt

A theoretical model of academic motivation consisting of (a) academic self-efficacy, (b) purposefulness and intentionality, and (c) support through school counseling for autonomous learning was explored with 346 high school juniors. Regression analysis indicated academic self-efficacy and utilization of school counseling to be significant predictors of academic motivation after controlling for previous school performance. A second regression analysis supported the premise that students who are more optimistic about their future and perceive fewer impediments to future goals will be more likely to use school counseling services. Recommendations for school counseling practice and research are discussed.


The effectiveness of counselors is increasingly judged by the degree to which they contribute to student learning. Evidence of this trend is found in the Education Trust's (2003) redefinition of school counseling as "a profession that focuses on the relations and interactions between students and their environment with the expressed purpose of reducing the effect of environmental and institutional barriers that impede student academic success" (p. 1). Moreover, a central goal of the ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005) is to "promote the learning process" (p. 22) through three domains: (a) personal/social, (b) career, and (c) academic.

With the increased emphasis in the school counseling profession on contributing to student learning, the challenge arises to demonstrate the efficacy of school counseling to positively influence academic performance through personal/social and career counseling. Whiston (2002) and others (Fairchild, 1994; Otwell & Mullis, 1997) have called for this type of efficacy research in school counseling. Research that establishes a relationship between school counseling and academic success also conforms to the increasing call for data-driven school counseling programs. Unfortunately, empirical investigations of this sort are challenging to undertake. Consequently, only a few studies have been attempted, such as the Lapan, Gysbers, and Petroski (2001) investigation in which a relationship was found between fully implemented comprehensive school counseling programs and student academic gains. This type of research supports the contention that school counselors can enhance the academic performance of students. Further studies are needed to more specifically identify which components of school counseling are associated with student improvements in academic motivation, academic performance, and school engagement.

The identification of counseling methods that promote school engagement is imperative, because recent estimates of school dropout rates range from 11.2 percent (U.S. Department of Education, 2000) to as high as one third of all students who start high school (Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997). Traditional academic interventions evidently are not enough to keep a large subset of intellectually capable students interested in school and motivated to complete school. School counselors may provide solutions to help curb rates of school failure and dropout by addressing broader contexts that include personal, social, emotional, and career development.

Teachers and administrators may be unaware of school counselor contributions in the personal, social, or career realms that promote learning and prevent school dropout. They may even perceive school counselor activities as hindrances to their classroom learning activities. For instance, a school counselor who takes a student out of a classroom to intervene when emotional, social, or behavioral difficulties are identified may be viewed as depriving that student of classroom learning activities rather than performing an appropriate school counselor function. Coherent theories to guide school counselors in the promotion of student learning may help to inform teachers and administrators of the collaborative role of school counselors in the learning process. …

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