Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Multicultural Self-Efficacy: A Preliminary Investigation

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Multicultural Self-Efficacy: A Preliminary Investigation

Article excerpt

This article explores the factor structure of the School Counselor Multicultural Self-Efficacy Scale (SCMES). For this study, a total of 181 usable scales were returned by members of the American School Counselor Association. Exploratory factor analysis on the 90-item scale suggested a six-factor structure. The six factors or subscales that evolved were (a) Knowledge of Multicultural Counseling Concepts, (b) Using Data and Understanding Systemic Change, (c) Developing Cross-Cultural Relationships, (d) Multicultural Awareness, (e) Multicultural Assessment, and (f) Applying Racial Concepts to Practice. Ethnicity and the number of multicultural counseling courses taken were significantly related to several of the SCMES's factors. Implications for future research and practice are delineated.

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Self-efficacy theory is a popular framework for which to examine human motivation (Graham & Weiner, 1996), primarily because of its predictive power and application for practically any behavioral task. For this reason, we have selected self-efficacy theory as the basis for understanding professional school counselors' motivation and capabilities to perform tasks that are relevant and specific to equity and diverse student populations. We believe that school counselor multicultural self-efficacy is an important construct because it could predict professional school counselors' perceptions of their capability to perform specific tasks and their likelihood to overcome obstacles that might prevent them from achieving or completing those tasks in schools. We believe this is a critical aspect of professional school counseling that must be examined, given the increasing student diversity of U.S. schools and the movement to restructure school counseling programs for higher achievement among minority student populations. If professional school counselors do not perceive that they are capable of performing tasks related to equity and diversity, then they will likely avoid those tasks or downplay the importance of such tasks.

The literature widely documents the influence that self-efficacy beliefs have on various domains of functioning and behavior (Bandura, 1997, 2001; Lent & Hackett, 1987; Schwarzer, 1992; Schwarzer & Renner, 2000). According to social cognitive theorists (e.g., Bandura, 2001), self-efficacy beliefs are at the core of human behavior and influence the choices people make and the courses of action they pursue. Social cognitive theorists purport that unless people believe they can produce desired outcomes, they have little motivation to pursue ambitious goals and to persevere in the face of difficulties. As such, people with high levels of self-efficacy in a specific domain select more challenging and ambitious goals in that domain. Thus, high self-efficacy improves goal setting and leads to more persistence in pursuing particular goals. In addition to improved goal setting, people with high self-efficacy levels perceive more positive outcomes of future actions and fewer negative outcomes.

While the terms confidence and self-efficacy are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings. Bandura (1997) pointed out that confidence is a term used to describe one's strength of belief but does not necessarily specify what the certainty is about. Perceived self-efficacy, on the other hand, refers to people's belief in their capabilities that they can produce given levels of attainment. A self-efficacy assessment, therefore, includes both an affirmation of one's capability level and the strength of his or her belief.

Over the past 20 years, self-efficacy beliefs have been proven to be a significant variable in achieving success in school (Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Pajares & Schunk, 2001), work (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998), teaching (Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk Hoy, & Hoy, 1998), sports (Lerner & Locke, 1995), career development (Lapan, Adams, Turner, & Hinkelman, 2000), and health (Holden, 1991). …

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