Current Students Survey
N = 26
Students in their final term responded to surveys about their experiences and perceptions of the program. Half of the respondents gave the program an overall grade of “A.” Students were most positive about the quality of fellow students (85% assigned this item an A), followed by program climate (81% A grade) and the commitment and seriousness of students (73%). Students were primarily positive about all aspects of the program, with significantly higher responses related to quality of teaching, faculty morale and enthusiasm, and the internship experience. Areas for the program to develop, as judged by lower scores, include advising (56% below A), availability of program information (69% below A), variety of courses (65% below A), and convenience of class schedules (62% below A).
To address these strengths and opportunities, the program faculty maintain high quality admissions standards. The program has become more selective with the quality of students entering of the highest caliber. This competitive admissions process is in conjunction with our proposed plan to maintain enrollment and lower course sizes. As the program moves towards the 2009 CACREP standards, there is beginning exploration to transition the Community Counseling concentration to a 60 credit Clinical Mental Health Counseling program which may create greater variability in course offerings.
Students also felt primarily positive about the program’s ability to meet their objectives. For example, students rated interviewing and counseling skills, assessing professional and personal abilities, and professional writing consistently at an A (81%, 77%, and 77%, respectively). Other highly rated objectives include demonstrating meaning of fundamental counseling concepts, infusing diversity principles, and interacting effectively with others (69%). All objectives were rated at an A or B level, reflecting the program’s success and students’ satisfaction. The faculty will continue to monitor student feedback throughout the program to ensure that all objectives are not only met, but appropriate to the skills and functions of professional counselors across settings.
We asked students which courses were the most relevant to their preparation. Skills-based Techniques and application-based Internship courses were indicated most often, consistent with expectations and goals for the program to prepare skilled counselors. Students responded to the question about other training they would have liked in the program with classes that focus more specifically on their work settings and functions. For example, school law, more higher education courses, and treatment planning. Several students indicated a desire for more skills-based courses and time in counseling settings. Related, when asked how their academic training prepared them for their work, many students indicated that the internship and hands-on experiences were most formative. Several comments indicated that the academic component was not readily translated into the actual work at their internship sites. This is a significant consideration for the program in curricular planning, as we will need to explore course content to address the balance of foundational knowledge and actual skills in specific counseling settings.
Overall, students were most positive about the faculty, their peers, and specific courses. Some students also had less than satisfactory interactions and relationships with faculty, felt there was not enough focus on specific concentrations (school counseling), and felt that course times were not convenient. Recognizing that there is great variability in responses and experiences, the ratings section of our survey indicated a more positive picture of the program than some of the individual comments towards the end. The program faculty aim to work with students individually and, with our plans to manage enrollment and revise the curriculum, it is our intent to critically review the responses to this feedback and continue to develop the program to prepare highly skilled and professional counselors across settings.