Education Specialist (EdS)
Semester of Degree Completion
Paul D. Overton
Eastern Illinois University, located in east central Illinois, is dedicated to providing high quality undergraduate and graduate education at an affordable cost for the citizens of the state of Illinois (Eastern Illinois University college catalog). The university's primary mission is to provide its approximately 10,000 students with a comprehensive undergraduate program of liberal studies as they seek degrees in applied sciences, business, education, fine arts, health, physical education and recreation, and liberal arts and sciences (Mission and Goals of Eastern Illinois University). To complement its undergraduate curriculum, Eastern's Graduate School also offers master's and specialist degree programs in various concentrations.
In addition, the university provides a variety of educational support programs to students free of charge, many of which are offered through the Counseling Center. A large percentage of students who take advantage of the services the Counseling Center offers come for career counseling. In order to serve the growing number of students who need individual assistance in developing and investigating possible career goals and interest areas, the Counseling Center relies on a graduate assistant and a team of peer counselors to augment its professional staff and to guide students through the career exploration process by means of specialized occupational resources, specifically computerized career guidance and information systems.
Over the years, as interest in this service has increased, so has the need for these paraprofessionals. However, the recent retirement of the founder and supervisor of the Counseling Center's peer counseling program left the program without a coordinator and without a sense of direction.
In order to garner support for continuing the Counseling Center's peer counseling program, the writer was interested in assessing the relationship between the peer counselors and the computer-assisted career guidance resources. This study attempted to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of one of the Counseling Center's most popular computer-assisted career guidance systems, SIGI PLUS, and the perceived helpfulness of the peer counselors who assisted students in using this program.
Students who used the Counseling Center's career resources in the fall of 1991 were given a short self-report questionnaire to complete which asked them to indicate the perceived levels of helpfulness of both the program they used and the peer counselor who assisted them. Two hundred twenty eight Eastern Illinois University students replied to a survey asking them to indicate which of the four computerized guidance programs they used and whether or not they thought it was helpful; how helpful was their peer counselor; and whether or not they would recommend this service to a friend.
Cross tabulations and Pearson correlations were run using the survey variables of perceived level of helpfulness of SIGI PLUS, perceived level of helpfulness of the peer counselor, and the week during the period of the peer counseling program that students were surveyed. A significant relationship was found between the level of perceived helpfulness of SIGI PLUS (p<.05) and the helpfulness of the peer counselor (p<.05). Both variables were also found to have a low, but significant positive correlation to the period surveyed in the semester (p<.05). A moderately high degree of significance was observed between the perceived degree of helpfulness of SIGI PLUS and students' perceived helpfulness of the peer counselors.
The observations and recommendations presented in this study were intended to serve as a reference to guide the staff and future coordinators of the Counseling Center's peer counseling program, in the hopes that this particular program will not only be continued, but will also be enhanced.
Ritten, Kathleen C., "A Study of the Effectiveness of Peer Counselors and Computer-assisted Career Guidance Systems at Eastern Illinois University" (1992). Masters Theses. 2164.