The Small Group Counseling narrative has been revised to incorporate feedback that provides additional details about implications for future. Also, a copy of the original pre-and post-intervention survey and results from the perception and outcome data has been uploaded.
Small group counseling is a key component of our comprehensive counseling program.
It provides students with assistance to improve skills in the areas of academic, social/emotional, and career development. Our goal is to assist students with developing awareness of interpersonal issues, to develop skills that positively impact their school achievement and to increase appropriate social interaction skills.
Why the Topic and Participant Selection Process
I was approached by the fourth-grade team leader about a concern with the increasing number of negative interpersonal interactions among their students. My first approach was to meet individually with the students. However, this was only a temporary fix and the issues persisted. Through consultation with the team, we agreed that a small group counseling intervention would be utilized as a means to teach social interaction skills. Although we felt that social skills training could be provided through individual counseling, students would be more likely to benefit from practicing with others in a group setting. In addition, we felt It would provide an opportunity for the counselor to model appropriate interactions and behavior.
The team collaborated to identify those students they felt would most benefit from this intervention. We identified those whose names appeared most often on the counselor referrals. Interviews were conducted and parent permission sought. The goal was for students to learn how to connect with others and to acquire the skills needed to maintain the friendships. Through the selection process, we knew it would be important to include students who would be able to model appropriate behavior. As a result, 5 students were invited to participate along with 2 students to serve role models. The group met for 8 weeks.
The perception data from the student's and teacher’s pre-and post-assessment indicate that student’s attitudes and knowledge about friendship increased as a result of the group sessions. The average percentage of change was 50.2%.
To obtain outcome data, we referred to behavior referrals for the students. We looked at the number of referrals the participants had during the first quarter and compared it the number of referrals from the second quarter. The results indicated that the number of referral decreased by 26%.
How Data Results Will Help
The data indicated that this small group intervention was a success and will be utilized to assist students with social skills acquisition. Moving forward, we will continue to track participant referral data, even after the intervention ends. This will give a better indication of the lasting impact of the intervention. Because the referrals tracked were only for the duration of the group, it will be important to determine if the students have internalized what they learned and make it a part of their personal value system.
We also believe that a social skills intervention should have a positive impact on students’ academic performance. Although we did not utilize academic data for this group, in the future we will include both behavior and academic performance when reporting program impact. When students are referred for behavioral concerns, it is time they spend away from classroom instruction. This can result in failing grades. It is vital that students and their parents understand that time spent out of the class can have an impact on school performance. By including academic data, it will provide additional means of measuring student growth.
As a way to gather more perception data, we will include questions on the perceptions survey to identify student and parent attitudes about the relationship between behavior and school performance. This will be another indicator of how their thinking changes as a result of the group intervention. We believe that home and school work together to ensure student success. Therefore, in the future, we will extend the perception survey to the parents. This will serve as another way to partner with parents, so they are able to support their children in the home.