ERIC Number: EJ1131630
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
A Multi-Method Inquiry of the Practice and Context of Rural School Psychology
Goforth, Anisa N.; Yosai, Erin R.; Brown, Jacqueline A.; Shindorf, Zachary R.
Contemporary School Psychology, v21 n1 p58-70 Mar 2017
This multi-method inquiry used (1) quantitative examination of context, characteristics, roles, and responsibilities of rural school psychologists compared to their suburban and urban counterparts and (2) qualitative examination of two focus groups of rural school psychologists. Results showed that rural school psychologists served more schools, had fewer years of experience, and spent significantly more time traveling, yet they had similar access to a variety of interventions and professional development opportunities. Four emergent themes evolved out of the focus groups: (1) advantages and disadvantages of the rural community and school size, (2) cultural challenges and disparities in rural schools, (3) professional issues, and (4) ethical issues of working in rural schools. Considerations and implications for practicing rural school psychologists are discussed. The provision of psychological services for children in rural communities is a significant challenge. Rural communities are diverse in many ways, including proximity to major metropolitan areas, population ethnicity, religiosity, and socioeconomic status (Beebe-Frankenberger and Goforth 2014). Children from rural communities are at an elevated risk for mental health problems compared to their urban counterparts, yet they have less access to mental health care (Moore et al. 2005). Commonly, people from small rural communities face barriers to mental health care that include driving great distances to nearby towns or cities, the inability to afford the high cost of mental health care, as well as facing or perpetuating stigma associated with mental health (Heflinger, Wallston, Mukolo, & Brannan, 2014). In addition, rural children underachieve academically compared to other children, scoring lower on reading and math proficiency tests compared to suburban children, and are less likely to enroll in college (National Center for Education Statistics, 2007). School psychologists provide important services to this community to meet rural children's academic and social-emotional needs. Rural school psychologists, however, face a number of challenges that affect their ability to provide services. They may work in schools that are spread across hundreds of miles, which may decrease their ability to develop relationships with parents and children within those schools (Beebe-Frankenberger and Goforth 2014). Moreover, rural school psychologists have higher pupil-to-psychologist ratios compared to their urban counterparts, being responsible for an average of 1700 children (Hosp and Reschley 2002), suggesting that fewer children are receiving adequate social-emotional and academic support. The importance of school psychologists' role in helping children in rural communities is clear, yet there is surprisingly little recent research conducted on the school psychologists' specific roles and responsibilities in rural public schools. Previous surveys of rural school psychologists have suggested that the practice of rural school psychology has a unique set of challenges, such as limited support services and professional isolation (Clopton and Knesting 2006), while other research has suggested that there are few significant differences in the practice of rural school psychology (Reschly and Connolly 1990). Consequently, the purpose of this study is to provide an in-depth, multi-method inquiry of the practice and context of rural school psychology by comparing the roles and responsibilities of rural, suburban, and urban school psychologists.
Descriptors: Rural Schools, School Psychology, School Psychologists, Counselor Characteristics, Counselor Role, Responsibility, Focus Groups, Comparative Analysis, Suburban Schools, Urban Schools, Travel, Intervention, Professional Development, Disadvantaged Schools, Cultural Differences, Ethics, Barriers, Mixed Methods Research, Context Effect, Inquiry
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A