Job Satisfaction of Elementary School Counselors .the elementary school counseling program in Virginia

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  • Job Satisfaction Among Elementary School Counselors in Virginia: Thirteen Years Later

    Doris S. DeMato

    Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy in

    Counselor Education

    Claire Cole Curcio, Chair Thomas H.Hohenshil

    David E. Hutchins Kusum Singh Tom Agnew

    September 3, 2001 Blacksburg, Virginia

    Keywords: Job Satisfaction, Elementary School Counseling, Stress, Role Conflict

    Copyright 2001, Doris S. DeMato

  • Job Satisfaction Among Elementary School Counselors

    in Virginia: Thirteen Years Later


    Doris S. DeMato

    Committee Chairperson: Claire Cole Curcio

    Professor and Program Leader, Counselor Education


    This study was conducted to determine the current job satisfaction level of

    elementary school counselors in Virginia and compare it with elementary school

    counselors surveyed in 1995 and 1988. At the time of the 1988 survey, the Virginia

    Board of Education had passed a resolution to phase elementary guidance and counseling

    programs into the public schools over a four-year period beginning in the 1986-1987

    school year. The elementary school counseling program was in full effect when the 1995

    survey was conducted. In 2001 the program was no longer state mandated, but instead

    was a local option to be determined by school boards. An array of social and political

    changes have taken place since the first two studies were conducted by Kirk (1988) and

    Murray (1995) that may have impacted how satisfied counselors in Virginia are with their

    jobs. Because the job satisfaction level of elementary school counselors in Virginia in

    2001 was undetermined, this study was undertaken.

    Two mailed questionnaires were used to collect the data. An Individual

    Information Form (IIF) and a modified version of the Minnesota Satisfaction

    Questionnaire (MSQ) were sent to 444 elementary school counselors who were members

    of the Virginia School Counselor Association. The total response rate was 76.35%.

  • iii

    In the current study, 90.9% of counselors surveyed indicated they were either

    satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, while 9.1% were very dissatisfied or

    dissatisfied. Of the 20 aspects of work measured by the MSQ, counselors only indicated

    dissatisfaction with the compensation area. The two demographic variables of

    educational degree status and counselors intent to remain in the current position were

    found to be predictors of job satisfaction for counselors in 2001.

    A majority of all counselors in the 2001 study responded affirmative to whether

    the current social and political climate affected their feelings about their jobs. Counselors

    expressed feeling dissatisfaction with the lack of a state mandated counseling program

    and feeling stress and pressure from conflicting role expectations and demands.

    Compared to counselors surveyed in 1995 and 1988, the overall level of job

    satisfaction in 2001 is similar. There were six areas of counselors jobs that produced the

    most satisfaction in all three studies although the order varied somewhat. These areas

    were social service, moral values, creativity, activity, variety, and ability utilization. In all

    three studies, counselors were the least satisfied with the same three areas which included

    compensation, company policies, and advancement. Job security was the fourth area

    producing the most dissatisfaction in both the 2001 and 1995 studies, while it was eighth

    in 1988. There was an increase of about 5% in the number of counselors who are

    dissatisfied with their jobs in 2001 compared to 1995 and about a 2% increase from 1988.

    There has been a slight increase across all three studies in the percentage of counselors

    who are very satisfied with their jobs.


    I would like to thank each of my committee members for their guidance, support,

    and expertise in the completion of this study. Each of you, Dr. Hohenshil, Dr. Hutchins,

    Dr. Singh, and Dr. Agnew, has been an encouragement and has helped make this an

    enjoyable endeavor. Special thanks are extended to my committee chair, Dr. Claire Cole

    Curcio, for sharing her tremendous technical skills, leadership, and positive attitude with


    Appreciation is also expressed to Kathy Greene and Bobby Thomas for their time

    and effort to help me turn this paper into a worthwhile document. I would like to thank

    my former principal, Mr. Guy T. Jefferson, for his cooperation and support while I

    completed my program. Vickie Meadows deserves a special thank you for always being

    so knowledgeable and helpful whenever she was needed. A special thank you also goes

    to my family who has encouraged me and brightened my days.

    Lastly, I would like to thank my dear and wonderfully supportive husband for

    encouraging me to begin this journey and helping me to successfully complete it.



    ABSTRACT.. . ii






    Statement of the Problem . 9Significance of the Study . 10Purpose of the Study . 11Limitations of the Study . 12Definition of Terms . 13Summary . 13


    Job Satisfaction Historical Overview.. 15Virginia Elementary School Counselors and

    Job Satisfaction Studies . 19Definition of Job Satisfaction . 20Theories of Job Satisfaction.. . 22Measurement of Job Satisfaction. . 26Determinants of Job Satisfaction. 29Job Satisfaction of School Counselors. 35

    Role Conflict. 39Stress and Burnout . 42Administrative Policies. 45

    Summary . 47


    Research Questions . 49Participants . 50Instrumentation. 50


  • Data Collection. 55Data Analysis. . 57Summary . 57


    Survey Response . 59Demographic Data. 59

    Age . 59Gender. 62Race. 62Marital Status . 62Parents and Children. 63Degree Status . 63Licenses or Certifications. 65Type of Elementary Guidance License. 65Elementary School Counseling Training. 66Primary Job Title. 69Years Employed as an Elementary School Counselor. 69Classroom Teaching Experience. 69Non-school Counseling Experience. 72Percent of Time Employed as an

    Elementary School Counselor. 75Contract Length . 75Annual Salary. 77Number of Schools Served in

    School Division . 77Only Elementary Counselor in

    the School. 77Number of Students Assigned. 77Number of School Counselors in

    the Division. 80Community in which School is located . 80School Population Receiving Free or

    Reduced Lunch . 80Remain in Current Position. 83Remain in Profession . 83Clinical Supervision. 84Administrative Position . 85Lack of a State Mandate. 86


  • Passage of the Standards ofLearning Assessments. 86

    Increased Awareness of School Violence. 89Impediments to the Preferred

    Counselor Role. 90Go into the Same Profession Again. 92What Is It Like Most of the Time. 92Feelings about Present Job . 94Overall Job Satisfaction . 94

    Job Satisfaction among ElementarySchool Counselors.. 94Levels of Overall Job Satisfaction . 95Sources of Job Satisfaction. 95Scale Score Comparisons between

    the Years. 98Job Satisfaction and

    Demographic Variables. 98Overall Comparisons of Job

    Satisfaction Levels. 100Summary. 100


    Summary of the Study. 104Conclusions. 109Recommendations for Counselors and Counselor Educators.. 118Recommendations for Future Research.. 119Summary.. 119

    REFERENCES.. 121


    A Survey Letters. 138B Individual Information Form . 144C Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. 149

    VITA. 156




    1 Survey Response Rate 60

    2 Age Distribution 61

    3 Degree Status 64

    4 Type of Elementary Guidance License. 67

    5 Year Licensed/Endorsed as an ElementarySchool Counselor 68

    6 Primary Job Title. 70

    7 Years Employed as an ElementarySchool Counselor 71

    8 Years of Teaching Experience. 73

    9 Subjects Taught.. 74

    10 Contract Length.. 76

    11 Annual Salary.. 78

    12 Number of Students Assigned.. 79

    13 Number of Elementary School Counselorsin the Division.. 81

    14 Community in which School Is Located 82

    15 Responses to Lack of State Mandate 87



    16 Responses to Passage of Standards ofLearning Assessments.. 88

    17 Responses to Role Change as a Result of IncreasedAwareness of School Violence. 91

    18 Impediments to Preferred Role and Functions 93

    19 Levels of Overall Job Satisfaction. 96

    20 Hierarchy of MSQ Scales. 97

    21 Analysis of Variance on MSQ Scales 99

    22 Multiple Regression Summary 101

    23 Chi-Square Test of Independence 102




    One of the main tasks assigned to schools in the United States is to educate and

    equip young people for the future. As we enter this new millennium, the job of helping

    students to achieve success in school and to develop into contributing members of society

    becomes more challenging. Gysbers, Lapan, and Blair (1999) observe that todays youth

    must confront a rapidly changing work world and labor force; violence in the