The Opinion of Students about the Status of Educational Counseling in Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences in First Semester of 2012

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Midwifery, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, Shahrekord, IRAN

2 Department of Veterinary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Shahrekord University, Shahrekord, IRAN

Abstract

Background: The counselors are responsible for academic counseling to students and help them to solve their educational problems. The aim of the present study was to determine the viewpoints of students about the status of academic counseling provided by the faculty advisers in four schools at University of Medical Sciences.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, the opinions of 244 students about the counseling status in four schools of Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Public Health, and Paramedical were assessed by a self- designed Check List including individual and educational information and 12 items with Likert scale to assess the students’ viewpoints about the status of counselingin the first semester of 2012. Data were analyzed by SPSS (v.16), using mean (SD), one-way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test.P
Results: “Checking and signing form of credit selection” was the only item from the 12 items of counseling status to which the students in four schools had given a higher score [School of Medicine (2.47±0.60)], [School of Para-medicine (2.45±0.66)], [School of Health (2.10±0.90)], [School of Nursing and Midwifery (2.50±0.86)] and there was no significant difference among the schools (P=0.50).
Conclusions: From the viewpoints of students, the status of counseling was not good. Informing the advisors about their duties and adequate supervision of university officials on proper implementation of counseling by the faculty members can help to improve the process of advising.
 

Keywords


Introduction

Academic counseling is a dynamic and purposeful relationship that is based on the participation of all students and faculty members and in accordance with the educational needs of students. The advisor is usually a faculty member that accepted the invitation to serve as consultant and to help the students that assess their progress periodically and have an early study about his/her job in the future. Although the main task of the teacher is education, but he is expected to help the students as much as possible in collecting of academic information. If the teacher be familiar with the principles and techniques of consultation and the use of them, he/she will be more successful in performing his duties, strengthen the confidence of students, and ultimately reduction of academic failure among the students (1, 2, 3, 4). Several studies have reported that providing advice to students has an important effect on obtaining a positive self concept (5,6), increasing the social skills, and educational progress in students (7). A study has suggested that, for having an effective counseling system, firstly advice should be defined as a primary activity and the advisors should be trained and their responsibilities should be determined (8). The responsibility of academic advisor is very important in achieving the educational goals, especially for the students who enter to a new environment and experience the separation from family, and living in a dormitory (9, 10).

The students expect that the advisor, as a coordinator, should have sufficient knowledge and information about the curriculum, educational issues, and personal, medical and counseling services (11, 12). The results of studies show that the advisors have not been successful in consultation with students from the viewpoints of students (13 14). Despite the importance of advising, several studies have reported that the students did not consider the advisor as a reliable source of reference to meet their educational needs. In this regard, the studies have reported that the educational advice could not provide a satisfactory status for the students (13, 15, 16). The results of two studies suggest that the  advising system has a problem in performance and have not been seriously well received not only by the students, but also by the faculty advisors and  makes it difficult to support and guide students (17,18). With regard to the responsibility of academic advisors in providing the advice and the lack of clear information about the status of counseling in the University of Medical Sciences in Iran, the aim of this study was to investigate the opinions of Medical, Nursing and Midwifery, Public Health , and Paramedical students about the status of academic counseling.

 Methods

All of students in Medicine, Nursing and Midwifery, Health and Paramedical schools have formed the population of this cross-sectional study. The study was carried out in the first semester of 2012. For data collection, at first, the total number of students at four schools was identified, then the sample size was determined based on the total number of students in each school and the number of 244 students from the four schools was randomly selected. School of medicine (basic medical students, n=24), School of Nursing and Midwifery (nursing, midwifery, and operation room students, n=124), School of Health (Public Health, n=22), and school of Paramedicine (Anesthesia, Radiology, and laboratory science, n=74). The inclusion criteria consists willingness to participate in research and being in the second semester of education and above. The guests and transfer students were excluded from the study due to their specific situations. The individual characteristics of students including age, gender, marital status, nativity, and employment during the education and also their academic information including grade point average (GPA), degree of education, department of education, and probation history were obtained by using a self- designed Check List. The students also responded to items such as whether to have a counselor or not, reason of referral to the counselor, source of educational information, knowing how to ask a counselor for help, making the academic records, educational problems due to lack of counseling, asking a counselor or lack of advising regarding continuing education.

The viewpoints of students in four schools about the status of counseling were assessed in the form of 12 items with Likert Scale and scored on a four points (never, sometimes, often, and always). The content validity of questionnaire was determined by a panel of experts and to ensure the reliability of the questionnaire. It was administered to 12 students who were not part of the sample, using Cronbach's alpha, the reliability coefficient was calculated to be 0.84. The score range for each question about the status of counseling was 0 to 3. Therefore, the maximum score for each item can be 3 which mean good advising and the minimum score can be 0 that means poor advising. Before the distribution of questionnaires among the participants, the researcher explained the importance of study, voluntary participation of students, and confidentiality of information. Because the questions had different options and it was not possible to calculate a total score, the analysis of data was performed based on individual questions of advising items. For data analysis, we used SPSS software (version 16), descriptive statistics (Mean, Standard Deviation) and analytical statistics (one-way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test) and a P

Results

In the current study, the final analysis was performed on 244 of students. The mean age of the students was 20.25±0.96 and grade point average was 15.50±1.30. The individual characteristics of students are showing in Table 1 and indicate that most of participants are female and single and that educate in Nursing and Midwifery school. Nearly 90% of participants were undergraduates (BSc) and all of students had enrolled in day courses. Nine percent of students were employed, 4.9% reported the history of probation in past semesters and 67.6% were native to Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province.

 

Table 1. Individual characteristics of students (n=244)

Gender

Male

Female

 

 

75(30.7)

169(69.3)

Marital Status

Single

Married

 

 

223(91.4)

21(8.6)

Department

 

Medicine

Nursing and Midwifery

Health

Paramedicine

 

 

24(9.8)

124(50.8)

22(9)

74(30.4)

Degree of education

MD

BSc

 

 

23 (9.4)

219 (89.8)

 

Nativity

Native

Non-native

 

165 (67.6)

79 (32.4)

Probation

Yes

No

 

12 (4.9)

232 (95.1)

 

94.7 percent of students reported to have an advisor and referred to him/her for course selection. The first source to obtain the educational information for students was department of education and the second source was the advisor. About half of the students did not know whether the advisor has made the academic records for them or not.

The viewpoints of students in four schools on the academic counselingand their comparison in four schools is provided in Table 2, indicating that the highest mean score given by the students of four schools is concerned to ''checking and signing form of course selection by the advisor ''and in this regard, there was no significant difference between the four schools (P=0.50). Also the lowest mean score is concerned to “counseling about unexpected problems'' and no significant difference was found among the four schools (P=0.11).  There was a significant difference in the mean scores given by the students to “Arranging for a counseling” among the four Schools (P<0.001), so that the scores given to the advisor by the students of Health School was lesser than other schools. There was also a significant difference among the four schools in the item "Ontime counseling with the students" (P=0.002), so that the score was higher in the school of medicine than the other schools. “Referring the students to other responsible professionals to meet their educational needs” was an item that was significantly different among four schools (P=0.02), so that the status was better in the school of medicine. “Evaluating the students’ academic achievement” was also the item for which medical students reported a better status and there was a significant difference among the four schools (P=0.02). 

 

Table 2. Mean scores given by all of students to status of educational counseling and its comparison in four schools           

Schools

Medicine

Pare-Medicine

Health

Nursing and Midwifery

F

P

The items of educational counseling that have been performed by the advisor

Scores (Mean±SD)

Scores (Mean±SD)

Scores (Mean±SD)

Scores

(Mean±SD)

Arranging  a   counseling meeting

1.80±1

M*=2

1.80±1.1

M*=2

1.20±1.1

M*=1

1.60±1.1

M*=2

5.55

<0.001

The timely counseling

1.95±0.82

M*=2

1.80±1

M*=2

1.20±0.80

M*=1

1.65±0.81

M*=2

3.82

0.002

Holding counseling sessions regularly

1.86±0.96

1.86±0.96

0.90±0.72

1.00±0.97

1.83

0.10

Talking with students about the educational standards

2.00±1.00

2.00±1.00

1.20±0.90

1.29±0.90

1.95

0.08

Checking and signing form of course selection

2.47±0.60

2.45±0.66

2.10±0.90

2.50±0.86

0.86

0.50

Referring the students to relevant professionals to meet their educational needs

2.52±0.59

M*=3

2.42±0.29

M*=3

1.40±1.00

M*=1.5

1.70±1.00

M*=2

2.55

0.02

Talking  with  other  experts  about  the students´ problems

1.20±1.20

1.23±1.20

1.00±0.36

100±0.85

2.55

0.08

Evaluating the students´ academic achievement at the end of each semester

1.91±1.00

M*=2

1.90±0.80

M*=2

0.80±0.63

M*=1

1.40±1.10

M*=1

2.63

0.02

Encouraging the students to overcome the educational problems

1.82±0.90

1.76±0.26

1.80±0.47

1.72±0.51

1.17

0.32

Having  detailed  knowledge about the educational standards

1.78±0.90

1.82±0.80

1.96±0.90

1.65±1.00

0.92

0.46

Counseling about the unexpected problems

1.10±1.10

1.14±1.00

1.00±0.80

1.00±1.00

1.80

0.11

Counseling  of  students about  the personal problems

1.70±1.00

1.40±1.10

1.00±1.00

1.00±0.91

0.98

0.42

*M=Median

There was not a significant relationship between the age (P=0.51), sex (P-0.22), course (P=0.15) and level of education (P=0.31) with their viewpoints about the status of each item of educational counseling.

Discussion

The aim of the present study was to investigate the viewpoints of students about the status of educational counseling at four schools in the University of Medical Sciences in Iran. In this regard, the findings showed that among the 12 items of advising status, ''checking and signing form of course selection by the advisor'' was the only item to which the students of four schools gave the highest mean score and the difference among the schools was not significant. Similar findings were reported in Adhami et al in Kerman University of Medical Sciences and Vahidi et al in Tabriz University of Medical Sciences (14, 19) which is consistent with the present study. The scores given by the students to counseling status in 11 items were below the mean score and the students did not voice a good idea regarding their fulfillment by the counselor. In this regard, a study in Tabriz University of Medical Sciences has reported that the students were not satisfied with the conditions of counseling and the advisor position as a source of problem solving was not acceptable (20). Similar findings have been reported in studies of Kerman and Hamedan Universities of Medical Sciences (13, 14) that confirms the findings of the present study. Other studies have also reported that the advising system provided by the advisors has not been a satisfactory position for students (21, 22). The findings of one study showed that in the evaluation of educational condition of students, in addition to the educational factors,  it is necessary to assess the other effective factors such as inter-personal relationship. The interaction of students with the faculty members and with their family can affect their attitudes and practices, and students’ interaction with family and advisor can prevent the educational failure. This finding has been confirmed by other studies (23, 24). The opinions of academic advisors about consulting to the students were assessed in a study conducted by Asadollahi et al., showing that the advisors believed that their awareness of their responsibilities was at a moderate level (18). The findings of other studies imply the inadequate knowledge of advisors about the academic counseling and their duties (10). The students’ reasons for lack of belief in advisors were assessed in a study and the findings showed that the students believed that they were able to solve their problems better than the advisors (25). In Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, few students considered the advisors as an effective person in their educational and personal problems (26). A study in Australia reported that about half of the students in psychology school were not satisfied with their academic advisors and its main reason was the lack of knowledge about the advisor tasks (27). A study in Turkey indicated that students’ refer to advisors was low (28). The results of all these studies are consistent with the findings of present study. The findings of present study showed that the advising system could not help students. Other universities have designed alternative strategies to enhance the student advising and meet various educational needs. In this regards, Sastre et al. (2010) reported that the Advisory College Program was more effective in promoting student wellness and vocational counseling than the traditional one-to-one faculty advisor system (11). Also the University of Washington has created a college system consisting of 30 key faculties who not only develop one-to-one relationships with their assigned students but are also responsible for teaching clinical skills and professionalism throughout the 4 years (29). Small sample size, especially in school of Medicine and Health and performing the studies in a single institution were the limitations of study which may limit the ability to generalize our results.

From the viewpoints of students, the status of counseling could not provide a satisfactory position for the students. Proper monitoring of the advising process and informing the counselors about their duties are suggested.

Acknowledgements

This paper was obtained from a research project (grant number: 1026) approved at Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences. Hereby, the author would like to thank the Deputy of Research and Deputy of Education of Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences, and all the students who participated in this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors of the present work declare no conflict of interest.

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