Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counseling Websites: Do They Have Content That Serves Diverse Students?

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counseling Websites: Do They Have Content That Serves Diverse Students?

Article excerpt

Guided by The ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2012), professional school counselors endeavor to develop comprehensive school counseling programs that reach every student. To be successful in creating these programs, school counselors must be mindful of the increasing diversity of students and their families ( Gonzalez, Borders, Hines, Villaba, &C Henderson, 2013; HolcombMcCoy, 2007; Lee, 2001). The ASCA Ethical Standards (ASCA, 2010) identify 12 diversity dimensions to consider when designing a school counseling program: ethnic/ racial identity, age, economic status, abilities/disabilities, language, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, family type, religious/spiritual identity, and appearance. If school counselors do not take a broad range of student and family characteristics into account in their practices, their programs may fail to serve some students and thus fail to be comprehensive.

The Preamble of the Ethical Standards (ASCA, 2010) states that each person has a right to access a school counseling program that "advocates for and affirms all students from diverse populations." School counselors have an ethical and professional responsibility to observe this tenet. A website is one tool that school counselors can use to show their awareness of stakeholders' diverse needs and provide resources corresponding to those needs. Nevertheless, no studies to date have evaluated whether school counseling websites include content that addresses the 12 diversity dimensions delineated in the Ethical Standards (ASCA, 2010).


Websites can enable school counselors to offer a variety of information and resources to students and families, but earlier researchers have suggested that they have been underutilized (Milsom Sc Bryant, 2006; Holcomb-McCoy, 2005). Most public schools (88%) in the United States had a website by 2003 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005); however, when Milsom and Bryant (2006) examined a potential sample of 2,384 school counseling programs in one state and excluded those lacking a website or providing just contact information, only 456 programs (19%) remained. Underutilization of websites was also a finding of Holcomb-McCoy (2005), who surveyed school counselors about their use of 10 computer technologies and found they had the least familiarity and confidence with website development and used it least. The number of school counselors with program websites may have increased since 2005.

The literature on school counseling websites establishes their usefulness as a means to disseminate information to stakeholders (Hayden, Poynton, &C Sabella, 2008; Loague, Alexander, &C Reynolds, 2010; Milsom &C Bryant, 2006; Reynolds &C Kitchens, 2007; Van Horn &C Myrick, 2001). After finding that only 11% of websites in their final data set described components of a comprehensive school counseling program, Milsom and Bryant (2006) recommended that more school counselors add content reflecting the comprehensiveness of their services. Reynolds and Kitchens (2007) designed a website evaluation as a training tool to help school counseling students recognize the potential of websites. Van Horn and Myrick (2001) and Loague, Alexander, and Reynolds (2010) emphasized that school counselors' websites can not only make information and resources available but also foster public awareness of their programs. All of these scholars encouraged school counselors to use websites to reach stakeholders; therefore, considering whether school counseling websites have content for the diverse students and parents they serve seems one essential means for school counselors to maintain their ethical and professional responsibility.


Although research exploring school counseling websites and their content for diverse stakeholders is absent, three studies have examined whether institutional or college counseling websites had content for diverse populations (Bidell, Ragen, Broach, &C Carrillo, 2007; Wilson &C Meyer, 2009; Wright &C McKinley, 2011). …

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