Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Investigating the Psychometric Properties of School Counselor Self-Advocacy Questionnaire

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Investigating the Psychometric Properties of School Counselor Self-Advocacy Questionnaire

Article excerpt

This article reports on the development and the exploration of the underlying psychometric properties of the School Counselor Self-Advocacy Questionnaire, a measure of skills school counselors can use to advocate for their roles and programs. An exploratory factor analysis (N = 188) suggested a unidimensional model, and a confirmatory factor analysis indicated the overall model robustly explains the data, accounting for 80% of the variance. Cronbach's alpha reliability estimates ranged from .84 to .87 for the questionnaire and the estimates of concurrent validity were promising. Implications for school counselor advocacy practice are also included.

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Advocacy, as a skill set, is essential to the practice of school counseling (Green & Keys, 2001; Trusty & Brown, 2005). Although advocacy is present throughout school counseling literature and has been included as a theme within the ASCA National Model (2005), few attempts to measure school counselors' advocacy skills have been made. One of the reasons for this may be that advocacy is an umbrella term that encompasses many of school counselors' expected practices. For example, Borders (2002) suggested that the terms school counselor and advocate can be used synonymously, which may make it difficult to isolate advocacy skills from other skills school counselors display. School counseling literature includes advocacy as a general skill that allows school counselors to better serve students (ASCA, 2005), promote the profession (Eriksen, 1997; Kiselica & Robinson, 2001), and define school counselors' roles (Clemens, Milsom, & Cashwell, 2009; House & Hayes, 2002). For advocacy to be measured, focusing on a specific application of the construct may be important. The purpose of this article is not only to describe the process of creating a measure of the skills specific to school counselors' self-advocacy, but also to evaluate the psychometric properties of the instrument and determine its factor structure.

Self-advocacy is a term that stems from a civil rights movement focusing on individuals with disabilities (Test, Fowler, Wood, Brewer, & Eddy, 2005). In this original context, individuals with disabilities and family members of individuals with disabilities have historically been faced with the challenges of advocating for individual needs that are different from the norm. The following definition of self-advocacy, as it relates to school counselors' practice, is based on the writings of leading school counselor scholars (e.g, Milsom & Akos, 2003; Trusty & Brown, 2005; Van Reusen, Bos, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994). Accordingly, self-advocacy is the ability to effectively and appropriately communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert information about ideal school counselors' roles to those with the ability to change the circumstances that contribute to the problem or inequity.

A documented discrepancy exists regarding school counselors' role definition throughout the last quarter of a century. Specifically, research indicates a disparity between school counselors' reported use of their time and either preferred practice or best practice (e.g., Burnham & Jackson, 2000; Johnson, 1993; Mustaine, Pappalardo, & Wyrick, 1996; Olson, 1983; Partin, 1993; Scarborough & Culbreth, 2008). Additionally, some school counselors report experiencing role stress stemming from competing messages about expectations for their roles (Culbreth, Scarborogh, Banks-Johnson, & Solomon, 2005). At times, school counselors are expected to take on roles and activities that are misaligned with their training and job descriptions (Culbreth et al., 2005; Wilkerson, 2009).

To some degree, school counselors, as is true of all school staff, must be willing to exhibit flexibility and perform tasks outside of their job descriptions. Scarborough and Culbreth (2008) labeled such activities as "fair share" responsibilities, indicating that all members of a school community perform responsibilities to facilitate the functioning of the larger school community, which sometimes means performing tasks outside of their job descriptions to facilitate the daily operations of the school (p. …

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