Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

New Assistant Professors of Counselor Education: Their 1st Year. (Professional Development)

Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

New Assistant Professors of Counselor Education: Their 1st Year. (Professional Development)

Article excerpt

The author presents the results of an investigation of the experiences of new assistant professors of counselor education. Although most of the participants reported high degrees of stress and anxiety, positive relationships with veteran faculty members seemed to be a mediating factor that was correlated with satisfaction.


The counseling profession is grounded in traditions that promote development, adjustment during transitions, ability to cope with stressful situations, and optimal career satisfaction. Ironically, however, individuals in the profession have not fully addressed the myriad adjustment issues experienced by new assistant professors of counselor education. This silence becomes salient in the context of literature that has documented high levels of stress, dissatisfaction, and loneliness among many new assistant professors (Boice, 1992b; Cawyer & Friedrich, 1998; Finkelstein & LaCelle-Peterson, 1992; Whitt, 1991) in an environment that has been likened to social Darwinism (Boice, 1992b). Women and people of color often experienced these responses with greater intensity than did men (Boice, 1993); furthermore, the effects of these experiences are long lasting (Boice, 1986; Whitt, 1991).

My study was initiated in response to Luce and Murray's (1998) assertion that "colleges and universities have a human obligation to those they recruited to provide the conditions needed to be successful" (p.103). It was based on the premise that the counseling profession's values dictate assurance that new colleagues are inducted into environments that are humanistic, compassionate, and conducive to achieving success. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of assistant professors of counselor education during their 1st year and their satisfaction, stress and anxiety, and perceptions of connectedness. Numeric ratings were augmented with anecdotal data that addressed (a) factors that contributed to participants' perception of the support they received, (b) strategies or environments that promoted satisfaction and success, and (c) working environments that resulted in dissatisfaction or discouragement.


The participants were identified in a previous study (Magnuson, Norem, & Haberstroh, 2001) that resulted in a profile of the 1999 cohort of new assistant professors of counselor education. Counselor educators in their first full-time faculty positions were contacted through search committee chairs, as identified in position announcements. On the basis of participant preference, questionnaires were transmitted electronically or by traditional mail to 49 new assistant professors at the end of the Fall 1999 academic term and again at the end of the Spring 2000 term. Response to both surveys was required. Thus, multiple reminders were sent to encourage participation.


Thirty-eight new assistant professors (77.5% of the identified new assistant professors) completed both midyear and end-of-year questionnaires. The participants included 26 women and 12 men. Thirty-three of the participants were Caucasian, 3 were African American, 1 was Native American, and 1 was Hispanic. The participants' ages ranged from 27 to 60 years (M = 40.4, Mdn = 38.5).


Data were collected using survey questionnaires that were designed for this inquiry. The midyear instrument included three Likert-type items that provided an anchor for narrative contributions. Participants were asked to rate their stress and anxiety, satisfaction, and perception of connectedness. Factors that contributed to these elements were solicited with follow-up questions (e.g., "What have been primary contributors to your being dissatisfied or satisfied?"). Four other items asked, "How would you characterize your first semester as an assistant professor of counselor education? …

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