Date of Conferral





Dr. Alvin Winder


With the nationwide concern for accountability in education, the elementary school counselor is often the center of controversy. What is the role of the elementary counselor? How does he define is role and how does his administrators define it? Is there a difference between his view of his actual functions and those he feels he should perform and does his view differ from that of administrators and counselor educators? How relevant are current educational and certification requirements? An approach to answering these questions is to survey the groups involved to discover their attitudes toward and views of the elementary guidance counselor’s role.


A study of views of the elementary counselor’s role was undertaken in the state of Massachusetts. Three hundred and forty-three (343) elementary school counselors, guidance directors, elementary school principals, superintendents and counselor educators were randomly selected to take part in the survey. A 3-part questionnaire, employing Likert-type scales, Semantic Differential scales and open-ended questions, and dealing with various role functions, education, certification and counselor image, was sent to the total sample. Groups' responses were analyzed and compared by means of the Mann-Whitney U Test, the Friedman Two-Way Analysis of Variance, the F test of variance, the arithmetic mean and the standard deviation.

Results and Discussion.

Significant differences were found both between and within all five groups in their views of the actual counselor role functions and the ideal functions. There was also much disagreement on certification and education requirements. There was no significant difference in their opinions of the counselor role image, however, nor of their rank ordering of groups serviced by the counselor. Counselor educators were found to be most at variance with the counselors' views in all areas of the questionnaire while directors and counselors most frequently agreed. The investigation supported the hypothesis that there is a dichotomy between the perceived and actual roles of the elementary counselor as seen by counselors, administrators and counselor educators and provides evidence that the present controversy about the elementary. Guidance counselor's role is prompted by a failure to agree on and thus define the elementary counselor's role functions, inadequate educational preparation and irrelevant certification laws.


The study revealed that all groups presently stress the remedial functions of the counselor although they recognize developmental guidance as an ideal goal. Essentially, however, the actual roles were not seen as very different from the ideal. One need is for counselor educators to work more closely with the schools and to gain a more realistic view of the problems of the counselor. Counselors also need to work together through a state-wide elementary counselor organization to effect changes in elementary counselor education and certification requirements. Unless elementary counselors become actively involved in defining their role and making that definition known to others, elementary counseling will continue to be of decreasing importance in the State instead of becoming a strong complement of education with the aim of enhancing the total wellbeing and growth of all children.