Using group counseling to improve the self-concepts, school attitudes and academic success of limited-English-proficient...


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Using group counseling to improve the self-concepts, school attitudes and academic success of limited-English-proficient (LEP) Hispanic students in English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages/English-as-a-Second-Language (ESOL/ESL) programs
Physical Description:
vii, 153 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Villalba, Josè Arley Jr., 1973-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Counselor Education thesis, Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2002.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 143-151).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Josè Arley Villalba Jr.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 029237483
oclc - 51020699
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Table of Contents
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    Chapter 1. Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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    Chapter 2. Review of the literature
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    Chapter 3. Methodology
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    Chapter 4. Results
        Page 58
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    Chapter 5. Discussion
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    Appendix A. Consent letters, assent scripts, letters to principals
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
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    Appendix B. research procedures and group facilitator workshop
        Page 95
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    Appendix C. Instruments
        Page 105
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    Appendix D. Group facilitator manual
        Page 113
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    Appendix E. Responses to qualitative questionnaire
        Page 137
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 152
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        Page 155
Full Text








I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Joe Wittmer for serving as chair of my

committee. His encouragement, understanding, guidance and genuine interest helped me

focus and complete the task at hand. Special thanks also must be extended to Dr. Larry

Loesch for his assistance with the research methodology and thorough editing. I also

extend thanks to Dr. Silvia Echevarria-Doan for her qualitative know-how, and to Dr.

Vivian Correa for "giving me a start" in educational research so long ago and supporting

me through the dissertation process.

I also extend my gratitude to the faculty and staff of the Department of

Counseling at Indiana State University, especially Dr. Michelle Boyer, Dr. Reece Chaney

and Dr. Peggy Hines. Also, a special thanks to Dr. Christy Coleman for her assistance

with data analysis and interpretation. Finally, recognition goes out to Sharon Hopkins,

Lauren Shoemaker and Christina Zuber for their help with the final stages of this


In addition, I am grateful to the Lafayette (Indiana) School Corporation for

allowing me to conduct my research within their school system. I thank the four

participating schools, their principals, and assistant superintendent Linda Thompson.

Gratitude also is extended to the staff at Hidden Oak elementary school for

granting me the chance to be a school counselor, especially Dr. Doris Richardson for

being a great principal and believing in me, Dawn Flanegan for her guidance, and Donna

Melnick for her friendship. I also thank and honor my late mentor, Dr. Marta Konik.

Finally, I offer my heartfelt thanks to my support circle: (a) Rachel, for her love,

patience and faith in me; (b) my parents, Jose and Tania, who gave me life and were my

first (and best) teachers; (c) my brother, Jessed, for his unique view of the world; (d) my

grandmother, Mima, who taught me the meaning of unconditional positive regard; (e)

Susanne, who offered me her knowledge, home and warmth; (f) my entire family, for

their continued support; and (g) my best friends, Dennis and Grant, for making it fun

along the way.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ......................................................................... ii

A B STR A C T ................................... ...... ..... .................................. ... ..... vi


1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 1

Scope of the Problem ......................................................................... 3
Statement of the Problem .................................................................... 5
Theoretical B ases .............................................................................. 7
Need for the Study ............................................................................. 10
Purpose of the Study ........................................................................... 11
Definition of Terms ............................................................................ 12
Organization of the Remainder of the Dissertation ....................................... 14

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .......................................................... 15

Educational Experiences of Hispanic American/Latino LEP Students ................ 15
Experiences in English-as-a-Second-Language Classroom Settings ................. 20
Language Acquisition ......................................................................... 22
Counseling Hispanic American/Latino Children in Elementary Schools ............ 27
Solution-Focused Counseling ................................................................ 30
Small Group Counseling Interventions ...................................................... 35
Sum m ary ............................................ ..................... ....................... 38

3 METHODOLOGY ............................................................................ 40

Population ......................................... ..................... ........ ................ 40
Sampling Procedure ........................................................................... 42
Resultant Sample .............................................................................. 43
Relevant Variables ............................................................................. 44
Independent Variables ........................................................................ 44
Dependent Variables .......................................................................... 45
Instrum ents .................................... .............. ........................... ..... .. 46
H ypotheses .................... ..................... .......................................... 50
Research Design and Data Analyses ........................................................ 51
Masters-level School Counseling Student Training ....................................... 53


Description of Treatment ..................................................................... 54
Sum m ary ............................................ ......... ................................... 57

4 R E SU LT S ......................................... ..................... ......................... 58

D ata A nalyses ........................................ ................ .......... ..... ........... 59
Sum m ary ........................................ ............. ........................ ... .... .. 74

5 DISCUSSION .................................................................................. 75

C conclusions ..................................... ................ ..... ................ .. ...... 76
D discussion ................. ........................... ........................................... 77
L im stations ...................................... ..................... ........................... 8 1
Im plications ...................................... .................. .......................... ... 83
Recommendations for Further Study ........................................................ 84
Sum m ary ............................................ ......... .......... .................... .... 86




C INSTRUMENTS ............................................................................. 106

D GROUP FACILITATOR MANUAL..................................................... 114

E RESPONSES TO QUALITATIVE QUESTIONNAIRE.............................. 138

REFERENCES ................................................................................... 143

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................................................... 152

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Jose Arley Villalba, Jr.

August 2002

Chairman: Dr. Joseph Wittmer
Major Department: Counselor Education

A small group counseling intervention for Hispanic American/Latino, limited-

English proficiency (LEP) students was assessed for its effects on three dependent

variables: self-concept (Piers-Harris Children Self-Concept Scale), attitudes toward

school (School Attitude Inventory), and school success (Three-Item Structured Interview

Questionnaire). The intervention was provided by two Masters-level, school counseling

students to 59 LEP students in Grades 3, 4, and 5 in four public schools. All students

were enrolled in English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages/English-as-a-Second-

Language (ESOL/ESL) programs.

A pre-post test, control group design was used to measure the effects of the

intervention. Children in ESOL/ESL programs were randomly assigned to the control or

experimental groups. Students in the experimental group participated in a 6-week,

solution-focused counseling intervention related to experiences within school, being LEP,

self-concept, developing effective school success skills, and attitudes toward school.

Members of the control group did not participate in the treatment.

Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) showed no significant differences after

treatment between children in the experimental and control groups with regard to self-

concept and attitudes toward school. No significant interactions were found for either

self-concept or attitudes toward school by gender, age, or years of participating in

ESOLESL programs. However, key-words-in-context (KWIC) analysis of the school

success questionnaire suggests that a small-group counseling intervention designed for

LEP children may increase school success and awareness. Overall, children in the

experimental group indicated increased awareness of their ESOL/ESL teacher's positive

impact on their school success and reported greater degrees of satisfaction with their

school success.

Results suggest that a small group counseling intervention designed specifically

for LEP children may increase school success. However, the lack of significant

quantitative results indicates the need for longer treatment or perhaps having more-

experienced school counselors perform the intervention.

Overall, this study contributed information for school counselors interested in

working with LEP Hispanic American/Latino students to improve their social,

educational, and personal development.


Hispanic Americans/Latinos are found throughout the United States and comprise

approximately 12.5% of the U.S. population, numbering more than 31.3 million residents

(U. S. Census, 2001). Their numbers are growing at a rate three to five times faster than

the general population (Garcia & Marotta, 1997). As a group, Hispanic Americans and

Latinos are diverse because subgroups emigrated from different countries, each with their

own identities, rituals, customs and traditions. Despite differences within the Hispanic

American/Latino population, their common bonds are the Spanish language and a culture

uniquely different from the Anglo-American culture (Pedersen, 1990).

The 1990 Census shows that 77% of Hispanic Americans/Latinos speak Spanish

in their homes (US Bureau of the Census, 1995). However, this does not mean that most

Hispanic Americans/Latinos lack English fluency. Rather, it highlights the importance of

their native language in everyday communication. Hispanic American/Latino parents in

particular are, most likely, speaking English at their jobs. Their children likely are

communicating in English at school. However, Spanish remains the language of choice

around the dinner table.

In most states within the U.S., children who have a first language other than

English and who also qualify for special services in public schools are eligible for

instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English for Speakers of Other

Languages (ESOL) programs. These terms are often used interchangeably and fall under

the general rubric of bilingual education (Crawford, 1999). Children who learn English as

a second language and who display daily problems in reading, writing and

communicating in English are considered limited-English proficient (LEP) (Gopaul-

McNicol & Thomas-Presswood, 1998). This is the most commonly used term to describe

bilingual students in U.S. public schools (Padilla, Fairchild & Valdez, 1990). The number

of children requiring bilingual education is increasing in the U.S. at an annual rate of

9.6% (Samway & McKeon, 1999). According to Samway and McKeon (1999), 75% of

children enrolled in ESOL/ESL classes are native Spanish speakers and two-thirds of

them are in Grades kindergarten through six.

Children who spend most of their out-of-school time speaking Spanish while

interacting in a primarily Anglo culture at school are forced to cope with very different,

and often confusing, scenarios. Whether children who are LEP are born in the U.S. or are

immigrants, chances are that their typical day begins by conversing with Spanish-

speaking family members, then riding to school on a bus with English-speaking peers.

Next, the school bell rings while these children prepare to listen to teachers' instructions

for the day's work, in English. The day progresses with English being the primary

language heard on the playground, in the lunchroom, and classes. If the Hispanic

American/Latino children are in a school with a "pull-out" ESL class, they will spend

perhaps an hour of the day with instruction in Spanish, or simply more visual and less

oral instruction. The ride back home is on the same bus, with the same peers, and mostly

English. Then, again at home, it is back to Spanish with mom and dad, siblings, and

friends. It is this constant back-and-forth switching of culture and language that may lead

to a stressful, trying, and confusing experience in their young lives as compared to their

language-majority counterparts (Cummins, 1994).

Scope of the Problem

The growing numbers of Hispanic Americans/Latinos in the U.S. has lead to

recent publications showing some common needs and trends for this unique group.

According to Garcia and Marotta (1997), 29% of Hispanic Americans/Latinos are living

below the poverty line as compared to 14% of the general U.S. population. Their report

also indicated that Hispanic Americans/Latinos have high-school dropout rates above the

national average, and only 9% hold college compared to a nationwide average of 21%.

Unemployment is also more prevalent among Hispanic Americans/Latinos than among

the general population (August & Hakuta, 1997).

Unfortunately, many Hispanic/Latino immigrants experienced tragic and

traumatic situations in their lives from the decision to immigrate to the U.S. (with the

exception of the Puerto Rican population which are considered U.S. citizens). Zea, Diehl

and Porterfield (1997) specifically studied Central American youth and their exposure to

war. The shock of witnessing mass destruction, death and forced military action in

countries such as El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, and Guatemala; and the abrupt

displacement from family homes to detention centers in the U.S. brought about

immeasurable anguish and grief for these Hispanic/Latino immigrant youth (McFadden,


Political reasons not withstanding, economic hardships also force many

Hispanics/Latinos to leave their native homelands for the U.S. Hispanic/Latino

immigrants often view the U.S. (as did previous immigrants in the 1900s) as the land of

opportunity (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 1995). For example, immigrants from

Central and South America and the Caribbean cross borders of both land and sea with the

hope of improving their economic, political, and family situations. However, as

evidenced in the poverty levels cited above, a large proportion of these families remain

less affluent and more under-educated than their Anglo-American peers.

Needs of Hispanic American/Latino Children in U.S. Schools

Nationwide, LEP enrollment of 104% between 1989 and 1999, compared to an

overall increase in school enrollment of 14% for the same time period (National

Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, 2000). According to Cummins (1994),

linguistically and culturally diverse children are becoming the norm in classrooms across

the country.

As noted, the U.S. public school system contains a large proportion of Hispanic

American/Latino students in Grades kindergarten through twelve. It is estimated that the

number of Hispanic American/Latino children eligible for elementary school in 2000 was

6,207,000, as compared to 4,825,000 children in 1990 (Baruth & Manning, 1992). These

children are more likely to have very different, often confusing, and trying experiences

than does the average elementary school student. And yet, regardless of the degree to

which U.S. public elementary school educators become more culturally aware, such

awareness will not prevent the number of troubled Hispanic American/Latino children

from growing. Their special needs continue to exceed current resources.

The need for increased multicultural awareness and skills of elementary school

teachers, administrators, counselors, and majority students is apparent. People from

different cultures engage in problem solving, communication, acquisition of resources,

and relationships in ways often not understood or accepted by the general population.

The counseling profession has emphasized multicultural awareness for many years, and

counselor education programs have long espoused the benefits of multicultural

counseling. That is, such training has been emphasized, taught, and researched in

counselor education departments across the country. Counseling researchers (Lee, 1995;

Sue & Sue, 1999) have categorized the four major cultural groups in the U.S. as African

American, Asian American, Hispanic American/Latino and Native American in hopes of

portraying common themes regarding counseling non-White populations. Other

counseling researchers have written extensively about school counselors specifically and

the skills they need to serve minority children effectively (Gopaul-McNicol & Thomas-

Presswood, 1998; Lee, 1995; Vargas & Koss-Chioino, 1992).

Samway and McKeon (1999) described social factors, such as learner attitudes,

past experiences, and personality, that influence the learning of LEP students greatly. The

differences between the culture and language of LEP students in ESOL/ESL programs

and that of their language-majority peers thus affect their self-concepts and attitudes

toward school. Consequences often manifest themselves as delayed school adjustment,

low self-esteem, poor academics, limited expression of feelings, and perceptions of not

fitting in, among other problems for these children (Cummins, 1994; McFadden, 1999).

Professional school counselors are trained to be aware of cultural differences and

are potentially instrumental in assisting culturally diverse clients and their social-

emotional needs (Bernal & Knight, 1997). However, the counseling profession has not

adequately addressed what part school counselors play in ESOL/ESL programs, or the

potential effectiveness of their efforts. In regards to social-emotional needs, school

counselors and other educators also should be keenly aware of how the Hispanic

American/Latino culture and use of the Spanish language affect the social-emotional

aspects of the daily life of Hispanic American/Latino children in schools (Lee, 1995).

Statement of the Problem

Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act addressed bilingual

education, language enhancement, and language acquisition programs under the

Improving America's Schools Act of 1965, which was re-authorized in 1994. Public

funding for bilingual education programs were first authorized by the Bilingual

Education Act of 1968 (Sinclair, 1983). In accordance with such legislation, educators

must ensure that LEP students receive fair and beneficial education in order to achieve

high academic standards. With respect to colleges and universities, the U.S. Congress

(1994) stated, "[I]nstitutions of higher education can assist in preparing teachers,

administrators and other school personnel to understand and build upon the educational

strengths and needs of language-minority and culturally diverse student enrollment"

(SEC. 7102. (a) (7)). Furthermore, it is written in P.L 103-382 that there is a need for

multicultural training for all "pupil services personnel" (SEC. 7142. (a)). School

counselors fall under the broad title of student services personnel and thus are responsible

for assisting bilingual students with their specific academic and personal/social


Even though Title VII calls for academic enrichment for language-minority

students, growing numbers of these children (continue to) experience personal problems

and concerns not shared by children in the language-majority. More importantly, they

tend to come from low socio-economic families, are more insecure, have negative

attitudes toward school and academics, display lower self-esteem, feel less empowered

than do English proficient students, and feel less valued (Ada, 1986; Ashworth, 1977;

Cummins, 1994; Lee, 1995; Ogbu, 1995; Suarez-Orozco, 1995; Weis, 1988). These

stressors obviously have negative effects on the learning and socialization of LEP

students. Furthermore, regardless of the amount or type of extra assistance these students

receive in regular classrooms or ESOL/ESL programs, their social-emotional concerns

are secondary to the academic rigors emphasized in the classroom setting (Lee, 1995).

Thus, many of these children rarely are exposed to an adult in their school with whom

they can talk about their feelings of insecurity, language barriers, confusion with being

bicultural, evolving ethnic identity, or not fitting in with their language-majority peers

(Canino & Spurlock, 1994; McFadden, 1999).

School guidance counselors have the facilitative skills and multicultural

awareness to assist most students they encounter who are experiencing personal or

academic difficulties (Myrick, 1997). Therefore, LEP Hispanic American/Latino children

should benefit from counseling interventions specifically designed to address their social-

emotional and academic issues, including those experienced both inside and outside of

school settings.

There is ample evidence to indicate that LEP high school students benefit

positively from counseling provided by high school guidance counselors (Brilliant, 1995;

Faltis & Hudelson, 1998; Gilbert, 1989; Keyes, 1989; Martinez, 1986; Martinez &

Dukes, 1997; Suarez-Orozco, 1995). However, little is known about the effectiveness of

LEP elementary school-aged children and the services provided to them by school

counselors (Ashworth, 1977; Gopaul-McNicol & Thomas-Presswood, 1998). Therefore,

this was the main focus of this study and is discussed in detail in Chapter 2.

Theoretical Bases

According to Lee (1995), Hispanic/Latino culture, history and the use of the

Spanish language significantly impacts the psycho-social development of Hispanic

American/Latino students. These children's background, coupled with socioeconomic

factors and experiences with other members of the school environment, have a decided

effect on their learning and personality development.

The development of personality in children has traditionally been understood to

be a biological and sociological occurrence. Theorists such as Erikson and Fromm

realized that many social experiences and conditions served as integrative influences in

the development of a child's personality alongside physical growth and maturation

(Yamamoto, Silva, Ferrari, & Nukariaya, 1997).

Erikson (1963, 1968) viewed personality development from both personal and

social perspectives. Apart from the impact that biological maturation has on a child's

personality, Erikson chose to emphasize the importance of the social environment.

According to Erikson, parents, family, friends, teachers, mass media, socioeconomic

background, culture and language all play a significant part in the evolution of a child's


Erikson (1963, 1968) based his psycho-social personality theory on eight stages,

from birth to late adulthood, whereby a person moves from a current stage to the next by

resolving a crisis between opposing psychological constructs. Although Erikson's theory

as a whole has been widely documented and applied to counseling, stages three and four

are of particular interest for the purposes of this study (Gibson, Mitchell, & Basilie,

1993). Stage three of Erikson's psycho-social theory occurs between age 3 and 6. In this

stage children are encouraged to initiate new behaviors, ideas and activities, as physical

and language development occurs. Children who are not permitted to become responsible

and creative, for example, suffer guilt from trying to explore and become more individual

in their thinking and behavior. Stage four is characterized by the struggle to be

industrious or inferior, and, in general, occurs between six and 12 years of age. Children

in this stage experience alternatives between doing well in school, making friends,

completing their chores, or developing a negative self-image from not performing well in,

for example, school or sports. This stage is extremely important to the development of

children because it encompasses the elementary school years. Stage four is also the first

stage where the school environment becomes as important, if not more important, than

the home environment.

Erikson (1963, 1968) emphasized the impact of culture in the development of his

theory on psycho-social development. A child's ethnic identity develops alongside their

personality and self-concept. By age four children gain awareness of their culture and

ethnicity, and by age eight they are oriented and can identify as belonging to a certain

ethnic group (Canino & Spurlock, 1994). That is, the psycho-social development of a

Hispanic American/Latino child is directly influenced by his or her ethnic identity (Ogbu,


This research study was grounded on the construct that the significance of culture,

language, and ethnic identity are paramount, as a child's personality and self-concept

develops. For example, Mejia (1983) noted that Mexican American children in California

elementary schools evaluated themselves as being low achievers, having low self-worth

and low self-esteem because they had trouble "fitting into" the school environment. That

is, these Mexican American children viewed themselves as significantly different from

their peers while simultaneously going through stages three and four of Erikson's psycho-

social development. In essence, according to Mejia, the Mexican American children's

psycho-social development took an unpleasant turn.

According to many researchers, a young child's continued low self-concept

severely impairs their social development and academic achievement (Crawford, 1999;

Cummins, 1994; Gibson, Mitchell, & Basilie, 1993). Furthermore, Metcalfe (1981)

reported a positive correlation of self-concepts in children and attitudes toward school.

From the perspective reported earlier that LEP children in ESOL/ESL classes

experience low self-concept and poor attitude toward school and learning, it is apparent

that additional interventions are needed to assist Hispanic American/Latino children in

elementary schools in personal, social and academic development. The reported literature

indicates that an LEP student's psycho-social development, most likely, will be stunted

by the negative relationship between their culture and language and that of their school

environment. Thus, this researcher postulates that a solution-based counseling

intervention, based on cognitive-behavioral counseling theory, should be able to be used

effectively to assist these children in acquiring more positive self-concepts and more

positive attitudes toward school.

Need for the Study

Can an elementary school counselor effectively help Hispanic American/Latino

(in an ESOL/ESL program) cope with social-emotional problems that are directly

attributed to their limited English proficiency? Bilingual education and counseling

professionals support counseling interventions as being beneficial for children in

ESOL/ESL programs (Ashworth, 1977; Brilliant, 1995; Faltis & Hudelson, 1998; Lee,

1995). However, because of the growing number of Hispanic-ESL students (particularly

in elementary schools) potential benefits of counseling interventions that include topics

of concern to these children must be further explored.

The fact that Spanish-speaking students in ESOL/ESL classes share similar

negative experiences in school because of their specific language suggests that it should

be possible to develop effective small-group counseling interventions to assist these

children with their personal-social development and academic prosperity. The benefits of

such intervention should include improved self-concepts, more positive attitudes toward

school and academic success for these children. More specifically, this research was

designed to evaluate a specific small-group counseling intervention and its effects on

LEP Hispanic American/Latino children in third, fourth, and, fifth grades who have

received at least one year of ESOJL/ESL education.

Purpose of the Study

A variety of problems face children of all backgrounds and ethnicity in American

schools (Wittmer, 2000). Divorce, peer pressure, loss of loved ones, drug abuse and

violence are just a few of these tribulations. However, the compounding effect that a

weak and incomplete cultural identity has on the ability for children to cope with daily

stressors is an additional burden for LEP students (Cummins, 1994; Martinez & Dukes,

1997; Ogbu, 1995). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness

of a small-group counseling intervention, developed specifically for use with Hispanic

American/Latino, elementary school-aged children in ESOL/ESL programs, toward a

more positive self-concept, attitude toward school and academic success. The small

group intervention was based on solution-focused counseling techniques. It addressed the

concerns, issues, and problems commonly encountered by these children in a school

setting and the resulting effects on their academic accomplishments, personal/social

development and attitudes toward school.

The following research questions were addressed using an experimental research

design with pre- and post-test measures to evaluate outcomes. In addition, limited

qualitative research methods used a structured questionnaire.

1. Will there be a change in the self-concept of Hispanic American/Latino, elementary
school-aged children in ESOL/ESL programs as a result of completing the small group

2. Does self-concept and attitude toward school of LEP Hispanic American/Latino,
elementary school-aged children vary as a function of gender, age-level and level for time
enrolled in an ESOL/ESL program?

3. Will there be a change in the attitudes toward school of Hispanic American/Latino,
elementary school aged children in ESOL/ESL programs as a result of completing the
small group interventions?

4. Will there be a change in the school success of Hispanic American/Latino,
elementary school aged children in ESOL/ESL programs as a result of completing the
small group interventions?

Definition of Terms

Attitudes are a tendency toward a certain action, whereby feelings are held about

specific people, places, or objects (Baker, 1992).

Bilingual Education is a set of differing programs and pedagogical ideology

established to educate and serve non-native English speakers. Some of these programs

make use of the child's native language in the classroom, while others do not (Faltis &

Hudelson, 1998).

Culture refers to a population of people sharing commonalties (including

ethnographic variables such as religion, ethnicity, language, nationality; and demographic

variables of gender, age, place of residence) and status variables (such as economic,

social and educational background) (Pedersen, 1990).

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)/ English as a Second Language

(ESL) are used interchangeably to indicate educational services offered to non-native

English speakers. Some of these services are provided in regular classrooms, while others

involve participation in separate learning environments composed solely of non-native

English speakers for part of the school day.

Ethnic Identity is a construct or set of self-ideas about personal ethnic group

membership, and includes knowledge of the personal ethnic group. It is an important

element of self-concept, one often affected by minority status (Bemrnal & Knight, 1997).

Hispanic American/Latino is the term used to designate those individuals who

live in the U.S. but whose cultural origins are in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other

Latin American countries in the Caribbean basin and Central and South America (Sue &

Sue, 1999; Pedersen, 1985). Separate identity differences are associated with both terms.

However, no distinction needs to be made for the purposes of this study.

Limited English Proficient (LEP) refers to students living in homes where a

language other than English is used for communication primarily and who have difficulty

in understanding, speaking, writing, or reading the English Language (Gopaul-McNicol

& Thomas-Presswood, 1998).

Self-concept is a relatively broad concept that normally refers to self-esteem and

how one feels about one's self (Rotheram-Borus, 1993). Regarding children, the self-

concept is a collection of identities (such as ethnic identity, gender identity, familial

identity, and school identity) that mediates the relationship between socialization and

behavior (Knight, Bernal, Garza, & Cota, 1993).

Small-group counseling is a school-counselor-led educational experience in which

pupils have the opportunity to collaborate as they engage in interchanges of feelings,

behaviors, attitudes, and ideas, especially as related to progress in school and personal

development (Myrick, 1997).

Solution-focused counseling is, according to Murphy (1997) a counseling method

used to encourage students, parents and teachers to discover and implement solutions

based on their experiences and strengths. It falls under the category of brief therapy and

has been used by school counselors to promote changes in children in a short period of

time. Solution-focused therapy has also been proven to work effectively with minority


Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: The Bilingual

Education Act of 1968 was the first U.S. federal law to authorize resources to support

educational programs, train teachers and teacher aides, develop and disseminate

instructional materials, and encourage parental involvement. Further re-authorizations of

Title VII have ensured the requirement of schools to provide some level of bilingual

education in order to receive federal funding (Crawford, 1999).

Organization of the Remainder of the Dissertation

A review of the related literature is provided in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 provides a

description of the methodology for this study. Results are reported in Chapter 4 and

Chapter 5 contains a discussion of the results of the study.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a small group, solution-

focused counseling intervention conducted with limited-English proficient, elementary

school-aged Hispanic American/Latino children in the third, fourth, and, fifth grade who

have received ESOL/ESL instruction for at least one year. Specifically, the researcher

investigated the changes in three dependent variables as a result of participating in the

school counselor-led group counseling experience: 1) students' self-concept, 2) students'

attitude toward school, and 3) students' academic success.

Chapter 2 is a review of related literature and centers on the educational

experiences of Hispanic American/Latino LEP children in school settings, language-

acquisition theory, counseling Hispanic American/Latino children, solution-focused

counseling (SFC), and small group counseling as an intervention. How these factors

influence the three previously mentioned dependent variables is the focus of this study.

Educational Experiences of Hispanic American/Latino LEP Students

When considering the classroom and overall school environment of limited-

English proficient students, it is important to consider the type of bilingual education

program in which the child is enrolled. Often the ideology and philosophy of a particular

bilingual education program greatly influences both the social-emotional and academic

development of a student. That is, the type of program has an effect on the child's entire

personal/social and academic development (Faltis & Hudelson, 1998).


Types of Bilingual Education Programs in Elementary School

Bilingual education in elementary schools can be organized into two major forms:

"real" bilingual programs where two languages are used in classroom settings, and other

programs that primarily use English to deliver classroom instruction (Hornberger, 1991).

A bilingual education program in which LEP children and their English-speaking

peers both learn in English and Spanish is considered to be the most enriching and

beneficial method that can be used to teach LEP Hispanic American/Latino students

(Samway & McKeon, 1999; Fatis & Hudelson, 1998). Programs such as these have

proved academically successful for children in Quebec, Canada, where French and

English are used equally in classroom instruction (Cummins, 1994). That is, teachers in

truly bilingual programs conduct lessons in both languages and the use of both languages

is reinforced and encouraged throughout the entire school. In these types of programs,

LEP children have the opportunity to learn English while strengthening language skills in

their first language. This approach also permits a strong foundation in the native language

to develop. In addition, "real" bilingual programs provide native-English proficient peers

with the opportunity to learn an appreciation for a different language and provide the

advantages associated with being proficient in two languages.

According to Hornberger (1991), bilingual education, where two languages are

used simultaneously, can be separated into three formats. The early-exit/transitional

format involves heavy immersion in a child's native language for the first three years of

school. During their first three years approximately 90% of academic instruction occurs

in the child's native language. However, by the time a child reaches third grade the native

language is used less than 25% of the time in the classroom setting. The primary goal of

early exit programs is to acknowledge the importance of using a child's native language

first, while increasing English achievement as quickly as possible.

In the second format for delivering "real" bilingual education, known as late-

exit/maintenance, the use of both languages is encouraged throughout the elementary

grades. In kindergarten and first grade the native language is used more than 90% of the

time within the classroom setting. After the first two years, use of the native language

decreases to about 50% usage for core academic subjects, such as math, reading and

writing, and continues at this rate until the end of sixth grade (Hornberger, 1991).

Teachers in these types of bilingual programs encourage students to continue using and

developing their first language, even after students attain English mastery. The goal of

these programs is to assist LEP children with English mastery while increasing respect

for native languages by all students and adults at the school.

"Two Way enrichment" is the third type of bilingual program emphasized by

Hornberger (1991). In this format, LEP students share classrooms with native-English

speakers. This differs from early- and late-exit programs where LEP students are taught

separately from mainstream students, specifically in kindergarten through third grade

(Faltis & Hudelson, 1998). In the two-way enrichment program, classroom instruction is

conducted in both languages for equal amounts of time. The emphasis in these types of

programs is to assist LEP and native-English proficient children alike to attain full

proficiency in two languages by the time they exit the sixth grade. These programs tend

to be used in areas where one dominant, non-English language exists, such as French in

Montreal, Canada, or Spanish in Miami, Florida (Faltis & Hudelson, 1998). Such

programs are considered the epitome of bilingual education because they foster the

positive attributes of a child being proficient in more than one language (Cummins, 1994;

Crawford, 1999).

Research on each of the three types of "real" bilingual education programs

described above indicates academic success, school-wide appreciation of diversity, and

positive social-emotional growth for most LEP children (Crawford, 1999; Hakuta &

Garcia, 1989). Regarding Hispanic-American/Latino children, the research (evidence)

indicates that Spanish language maintenance improves academic success and levels of

self-esteem among these children (Casanova, 1991). Regardless of the research and

practice used to support truly bilingual programs, the time, teachers and resources needed

to implement these programs nationwide are scarce (Casanova, 1991; Crawford, 1999).

For these reasons, non-bilingual settings, such as English for Speakers of Other

Languages (ESOL) or English as a Second Language (ESL), are currently the most

common methods of academic instruction used to teach LEP students (Faltis & Hudelson,


English-as-a-second-language/ESOL instruction falls in the area of transitional

bilingual education in that the primary purpose is to assist LEP students in academically

achieving in English as soon as possible. The services offered in ESOL/ESL classrooms

range from "pulling out" children who qualify for services and providing specialized

services for a portion of the school day, to placing these children in a classroom with a

certified ESOL/ESL teacher (or one who has taken a few courses on the subject matter)

while receiving little or no ESOL/ESL instruction, or providing an ESOL/ESL certified

paraprofessional aide for the purpose of temporary assistance on an as-needed basis

(Faltis & Hudelson, 1998).

As reported by several researchers (Crawford, 1999; Faltis & Hudelson, 1998;

Malakoff & Hakuta, 1990; Met, 1994), the reauthorization of the Bilingual Education Act

(Title VII) in 1984 allowed individual school districts to define and implement their own

form of bilingual education under the term "special alternative instruction programs." It

is under this provision that transitional ESOL/ESL programs became the most popular

and most used delivery systems for providing bilingual education.

Because of the reauthorization of Title VII, the act of placing an LEP child in a

classroom where all the students are native English speakers and with an ESOIJESL

certified teacher (who does not actually provide specific ESOL/ESL instruction), is

considered an adequate provision. This approach is considered to be a form of bilingual

education even though no direct ESOL/ESL instruction occurs. This is a common

experience of Hispanic American/Latino, LEP children who attend schools where lower

numbers of LEP students are enrolled, or in school corporations (districts) with a small

Hispanic American/Latino population. According to the U.S. General Accounting Office

(1997), LEP children in elementary schools, where LEP enrollment is minimal, have a

much lower chance of receiving appropriate ESOL/ESL instruction. Consequently, 15%

of elementary school-aged children eligible for ESOL/ESL instruction experience no

such accommodations at school (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1997).

The most frequently used form of ESOL/ESL education that occurs today is

known as a "pull out" program (Crawford, 1999; Met, 1994). According to Faltis and

Hudelson (1998), students in pull out ESOL/ESL programs, also known as resource

ESOL/ESL programs, receive limited instruction in bilingual education. This separate

instruction lasts from 15 minutes to an hour and one-half a day, depending on the school

and the number of LEP students enrolled and may be provided by a teacher or

paraprofessional teacher's aide. Since most ESOL/ESL programs deal with a variety of

languages, the teachers in these settings do not necessarily use the native language of

their students. Rather, techniques that have been proven to work with LEP students, such

as using more visual cues, math-manipulatives, hands-on activities, and integrating native

cultures are the main differences between the mainstream classroom and the ESOL/ESL

instruction provided to the majority of LEP students (Met, 1994). A student's instruction

in an ESOL/ESL program tends to last no more than three years. Following the third

year, students usually are dismissed from ESOL-/ESL-program eligibility and are

mainstreamed full-time into the regular education classroom settings (Crawford, 1999).

The debate between which type of instruction LEP children are entitled to, or

should receive, is a political, ideological, and pedagogical one. The push for (more or

less) first-language instruction of LEP students tends to fall along politically liberal lines

(Crawford, 1999). However, educators, parents and politicians alike agree that some type

of instruction by appropriately certified teachers is needed where LEP children are


Experiences in English-as-a-Second-Language Classroom Settings

Since transitional, non-bilingual, ESOL/ESL settings are the most common form

of bilingual education, the experiences documented and research cited in this section

pertain to these programs and not to late exit/enrichment programs. This coincides with

the research being conducted in this particular study, which focused on LEP children

enrolled in non-bilingual, ESOL/ESL programs.

Most Hispanic American/Latino children enrolled in "pull out" ESOL/ESL

programs are taught by teachers or paraprofessional aides who are not fluent in the

native, Spanish language spoken by their LEP students (Cazden, 1992). Since most

school districts have adopted non-bilingual ESOL/ESL programs, classroom instruction

in these settings tends to focus on the English language. Teachers teach academic content

(math, reading, language arts, science, and social studies) in English and often depend on

bilingual instructional (paraprofessional) aides to translate the material into student's first

language (Faltis & Hudelson, 1998).

According to Tabors and Snow (1994), instruction in the ESOL/ESL setting

involves a structured set routine in which activities occur in predictable ways at specified

time intervals. Limited-English proficient children enrolled in ESOL/ESL are given extra

time to learn and practice oral and written communication in English. They may be

paired up with an English-speaking peer, and/or encouraged to use English for

interpersonal communication.

Young children in ESOL/ESL classrooms are presented with learning a new

language as well as facing various social-emotional challenges (Tabors & Snow, 1994).

Although the addition of instructional personnel fluent in Spanish may seem to be a

positive intervention, most children with experience in these settings continue to recount

personal problems related to the school environment. For example, Hispanic

American/Latino children in these settings reported isolation from classroom peers,

feeling inferior when they are not permitted to use their native language in the classroom,

ridicule by other students because they are not fluent in English (do not know English

well enough), and feeling as if they do not fit into the overall school environment

(Coelho, 1994).

As stated in Chapter 1, the socio-economic background, reasons for immigrating

to the U.S., amount of years spent learning in the first language and years spent in the an

ESOL/ESL program all have an affect on Hispanic American/Latino LEP children in the

schools. Given the classroom scenario in which most of these children find themselves

(limited resources, little use of the native language, frustration with learning English),

school authorities may not be directing enough attention to these problems (areas).

Figueroa (1993) best summed up this issue when he wrote that LEP students experience

frustration and nonsuccess, not because of problems in the home and family, but because

they feel neglected and academically inferior at school.

It is unlikely that bilingual education programs in schools will soon begin to

emphasize "true" bilingual settings versus "pull out" programs (or no ESOL/ESL

instruction), such as those in existence prior to the reauthorization of Title VII in 1984

(Crawford, 1999). For this reason, it becomes paramount that methods be developed that

will empower Hispanic American/Latino, as well as other LEP students in the school

setting to compensate for negative experiences they encounter in the classroom and

throughout the school (Cummins, 1986).

Using appropriate counseling interventions, including small group methods, is

one way to address the lack of empowerment experienced by Hispanic American/Latino,

LEP children in our schools (Gopaul-McNicol & Thomas-Presswood, 1998). Although

small group counseling interventions will not alleviate all of the negative experiences

encountered by LEP students in the ESOL/ESL programs and the overall school

environment, providing small group interventions may assist these students in

constructively coping with their personal/social and academic problems.

Language Acquisition

Children and adults alike use language in order to cope with personal issues and

engage in social participation (Piper, 1993). Theorists such as Cummins (1994) and

Krashen (1982) have developed hypotheses and premises for the development of

language, both native and second languages, in children and adults. There are several

important byproducts of this research. These include considerable information on the

self-concept, academic ability and school success, and attitudes toward learning of

elementary level school-aged children (Cummins, 1986).

Regardless of whether a child is learning to communicate in her/his native

language or a second, Krashen (1982) hypothesized that initial language acquisition

occurs through practice in real life situations. It is in these first and informal situations

that children learn and incorporate the basic rules and structure of language. Grammatical

rules, vocabulary, and reading comprehension normally occur in the school setting,

presented through more formal teaching methods (August & Hakuta, 1997; Crawford,


This study was geared toward elementary school-aged LEP children in

ESOL/ESL programs who speak Spanish as a first language. Thus, the review of the

literature that follows focuses on how these children acquire English as their second

language. Also related to this study is how second-language acquisition affects a child's

academic performance and personal/social development.

According to Krashen (1982), acquisition of a second language occurs in five

stages. In the first, Preproduction, comprehension skills are developed while expressive

skills remain minimal. It is in this stage that the individual focuses on listening in order to

gain meanings of words and their context. The Early Production (second) stage is where

verbalization of the new language begins and short, two or three word sentences are

being formed while comprehension skills continue to be reinforced. Longer, more

complex sentence structure is the hallmark of stage three, Speech Emergence. Although

grammatical errors abound, the LEP learner gains more confidence in use of the second

language during this stage of development. Narratives and conversation engagement

characterize the fourth stage, Intermediate fluency. However, during this stage processing

in the new language remains slower when compared to a child's native tongue. This is

due, in part, to the need to translate information from one language to another (Dornic,

1979). The final stage of Krashen's model is known as Advanced Fluency. Students of

the new language develop better, and relatively fluent, expressive and receptive abilities

during this stage. The learner's ability to write in the second language (use of proper

grammar, spelling and punctuation) also becomes stronger during this stage. However,

memorization, retrieval of information and information processing for the child rarely

ever becomes as fast and accurate as in their first language (Lopez & Gopaul-McNicol,


An individual's success at becoming fluent in writing and speaking in a second

language depends on that person's level of development in her/his first language

(Crawford, 1999, & Cummins, 1986, 1994). The number of years a person has spent

communicating in their first language (LI) also is related to the level of fluency attained

in the second language (L2). Collier (1987) reported that young, LEP children in Grades

kindergarten through third grade required more time to reach proficiency in English.

Collier based this on the fact that these younger children have little or no schooling and

have less experience in their first language than do older children.

Cummins (1986, 1994) described the effects LI has on L2 by distinguishing

between two types of language proficiency: Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills

(BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). A child demonstrates a

grasp of the social and conversational skills of their native tongue, LI, by interacting with

parents, siblings and friends, thereby having achieved BICS in their first language.

However, in order to achieve basic conceptual and academic skills in LI and L2, they

need to reach the CALP level. This cognitive and more analytical language usage begins

around age seven and is solidified by approximately age ten (when the child is still

employing LI to learn mathematical, grammatical and higher-level thinking) (Cummins,

1991). A child who learns academic skills in their first language by age seven to nine

stands a much better chance of attaining CALP in a second language compared to a child

who only received native language instruction up to the ages three to five. For this

reason, several researchers advocate for teaching LEP students in their native languages

alongside the new language, rather than completely eliminating children's first language

from school-wide instruction (Cummins, 1994; Krashen, 1982). The latter situation

would have the effect of restricting L2 fluency to the BICS level (Collier 1987).

Cummins (1994) acknowledged that a child who develops a strong conceptual base in LI

would most likely develop strong abilities in L2. Furthermore, Cummins (1994) and

Collier (1987) stated that it would (usually) take an additional five to seven years after

CALP in L 1 has been reached for LEP students to write and speak English as well as

native speakers.

In essence, the more time a child has to learn and practice their native language,

the better she or he will do at achieving proficiency in the second language. For this

reason, middle school and high school-aged children who are learning English as a

second language do so more quickly than younger children (August and Hakuta, 1997).

Furthermore, this explanation also seems to account for the social/emotional and

academic problems experienced by young learners of English as a second language.

The acquisition of a new language is an academic and social endeavor. Limited-

English proficient children acquire English in the schools, while at the same time they are

receiving messages about their native culture and their recently acquired role in society

(McKeon, 1994). Often times, these messages, although covert, negatively evaluate a

child's first language or country of origin as being "second class" or inferior. Researchers

have concluded that such messages can affect the outcome of a child's education and

attitudes toward school (Ogbu & Matute-Bianchi, 1986). Children may also experience

dissonance between the language spoken in the home and the language used at their

school, forcing them to be bilingual and bicultural. This dissonance increases the stress

these young children experience. This stress is the result of a child's difficulty in

balancing a new language with an old language, and a new culture and society with a

native one (Piper, 1993). Hence, language acquisition and increased proficiency directly

affects the social/emotional development and academic success of young children.

Marcos (1976) found a significant correlation between LEP and native language

fluency and the distortion of emotions. Children in ESOL/ESL programs who were

unable to express themselves clearly because of inadequate development of language,

such as being at a BICS level in L2 while trying to attain the CALP level, had a more

difficult time with comprehension, as well as expressing and discussing their true

emotions. This could lead to unresolved, negative effects, such as in problems with the

development of the self-concept (McFadden, 1999). Furthermore, as the self-concept of

an LEP student continues to be affected by restricted exposure to the native language

while adjusting to a new educational system, the possibility of conduct and anxiety

disorders increases (Malgady, Rogler, & Costantino, 1990). Research indicates that such

disorders usually lead to lower academic performance, one of the dependent variables in

this study, for LEP students (Ogbu, 1995).

Counseling Hispanic American/Latino Children in Elementary Schools

Elementary school counselors are responsible for ensuring that all children in the

school have the opportunity to experience a sense of academic accomplishment and

social-emotional satisfaction (Gibson, Mitchell, & Basilie, 1993). The American School

Counseling Association's position corresponding to ethic and racial minority children is

that school counselors are also responsible for ensuring that minority children receive

access to school counseling programs and interventions to facilitate their personal/social

and academic development (American School Counseling Association [ASCA], 1999).

Through this strongly worded position statement on cross/multicultural counseling,

ASCA advocates for a professional school counselor who is aware of the impact a child's

ethnicity has on her or his personal, social, and academic development.

Over a generation ago, Ashworth (1977) and Wittmer (1971) highlighted the need

for school counselors' awareness of students' cultural diversity. Wittmer was clear on the

importance of students' native cultures in school counseling when he wrote, "school

counselors hold the key to the process of reducing, if not completely eliminating, the

social and emotional barriers which prevent many minority group members from

becoming secure American citizens (p. 49)." The importance of this concept has

continued to expand in the counseling profession as demonstrated by the growing number

of books and chapters on the benefits of multicultural counseling, as well as the different

counseling needs of diverse populations (Pedersen, 1997; Sue & Sue, 1999; Lee, 1995;

Pedersen & Carey, 1993; Gerler, Ciechalski, & Parker, 1990; Schmidt, 1999; Thompson

& Rudolph, 2000; Gibson, Mitchell, & Basilie, 1993).

The first major work to consolidate the ideas, literature, and research on

counseling Hispanic children was written by Baruth and Manning in 1992. A literature

review of the past 40 years of school counseling literature conducted by this writer

yielded Baruth and Manning's journal article as the only comprehensive, major journal

publication on the topic.

In their article, Baruth and Manning (1992) review demographic information,

outline major problems affecting Hispanic American/Latino youth, and describe ideas for

counseling Hispanic American/Latino youth. Statistics reveal the problem areas of high

school dropout rates, poverty, single-parent families, and teenage pregnancy rates among

Hispanic Americans/Latinos. More closely related to the research being conducted by this

researcher, Baruth and Manning identify problems related to negative cultural identity,

poor self-concept, and conflicts between the languages spoken at home and at school.

Baruth and Manning (1992) emphasize that effective counseling with Hispanic

American/Latino children requires that the professional school counselor understand and

recognize how culture affects children. They also note that special attention must be paid

to "coping with language problems and developing positive self-concepts and cultural

identities (p. 17)." in both individual and group counseling interventions used with

Hispanic American/Latino children.

Baruth and Manning (1992) outlined a three-step process to becoming a more

effective school counselor with Hispanic-American/Latino children. First, the counselor

must have a cognitive knowledge and understanding of the Hispanic American/Latino

culture and the problems that these children face, while maintaining an appreciation for

cultural diversity. Next, the professional school counselor needs the skills, knowledge,

and attitudes to intercede in situations of cultural diversity. Finally, an effective school

counselor must follow ethical guidelines while acquiring real-world experiences with

Hispanic American/Latino children. Baruth and Manning expand on this three-step

process by highlighting the importance of understanding the problems Spanish-speaking

children experience in the schools.

Lee (1995), writing on the status of Hispanic American/Latino children and youth

in the schools, focuses on the self-concept of these children. Expanding on the ideas

proposed by Baruth and Manning (1992), Lee proposes that the effective school

counselor must focus on the role socio-economic and cultural factors play in the

Hispanic-American/Latino child's development of self-concept.

Arredondo (1996) believes counselors working with Hispanic Americans/Latino

must be aware of the many social/emotional factors influencing their self-concept and

ethnic identity. In addition, Arredondo also writes that religious affiliation, gender roles,

feelings of oppression experienced in the country of origin, and the collectivistic nature

of the Hispanic American/Latino family all play key roles in how a child acts and reacts

in the school setting. Arredondo further recommends that counselors understand the

Hispanic child's belief system regarding influence in the school environment.

Aside from direct work with Hispanic American/Latino children, school

counselors should also carry out other tasks that indirectly affect the adjustment and well

being of these children. Schmidt (1999) refers to school counselors as "vanguards of [the

multicultural] movement (p. 315)" because of their commitment to assist teachers and

colleagues to gain a better understanding of cultural differences. School counselors are

capable of assisting Hispanic American/Latino children on an individual, one-on-one

level, while simultaneously helping to establish respect for the various Hispanic

American/Latino cultures found within their respective schools.

Solution-Focused Counseling

Solution-focused counseling (SFC) is one of the more popular forms of

counseling methods available to school counselors, and other mental healthcare

providers, in the 21st century. Although it has been in existence since the 1970s, this

counseling approach has come into prominence in the past decade. This is due in part to

the time constraints placed on the counseling professionals by managed care and school

administrators (Thompson & Rudolph, 2000). That is, counselors have experienced

pressures to limit their interventions and numbers of sessions, thereby contributing to

more research and an increase in the use of SFC among counseling professionals.

Steve de Shazer (with Insoo Kim Berg) is credited with developing SFC and

bringing it to the forefront of the counseling profession (Corey, 2001; Murphy, 1997;

Thompson & Rudolph, 2000). Grounded in brief therapy and corresponding to the

general category of marriage and family counseling, SFC has grown into its own as a

counseling method focusing on finding solutions rather than exploring the problem (de

Shazer, 1985). De Shazer believes that too much time and energy is spent by counselors

trying to discover the cause of a client's problem by using vague and subjective

terminology such as feelings, thoughts and motivations instead of trying to establish

concrete, appropriate solutions. He believes the key to helping clients feel better is to

assist them in focusing on what they are doing that is positive, instead of why they think a

problem exists. Furthermore, solution-focused therapy is grounded in the present and

future, as opposed to the past (Murphy, 1997). As with Carl Roger's person-centered

counseling, SFC acknowledges the basic goodness in people, their capacity for rational

thought, and the ability to solve their own problems (Thompson & Rudolph, 2000).

Theoretically, SFC is based on the belief that a strong counselor-client alliance is

the best way to find solutions to the client's problem. The strength of this relationship

depends on the counselor's: 1) acceptance of the client for who she or he is, 2)

acknowledgment that the client needs to develop solutions, and 3) accommodating their

goals and beliefs (Murphy, 1997). To achieve the "Three-A" rule, as Murphy has titled it,

warmth, empathy and caring are necessary to enable the relationship to flourish. After a

strong rapport has been established, the counselor and client work together to identify the

client's strengths, implement concise and proactive interventions, such as role-plays and

homework assignments, and establish clear and achievable goals (Bruce, 1995). Once

rapport has been established in the counselor-client relationship, the client then is

encouraged to initiate change while social/emotional progress is supported (Corey, 2001).

Solution-focused counseling uses the idea of "exceptions" as a foundation for

methods and techniques used in counseling sessions, whereby the client and counselor

accentuate the positive (Coe & Zimpher, 1996). Murphy (1994) delineates exceptions in

situations in which the problem experienced by the client does not occur, or it occurs to a

lesser degree. That is, effective SFC counselors challenge their clients to recount a time

when an unwanted problem or negative situation does not occur. From this knowledge

base, the client-counselor alliance focuses on what caused the negative occurrence to

cease, and how to develop solutions and goals to decrease the likelihood of the problem

occurring again.

De Shazer (1990) acknowledged that for clients who are not capable of forming

positive, constructive, behavioral goals, a more straightforward and concrete method is

needed. The "miracle question," developed by de Shazer (1990), challenges clients to

consider solutions and goals by presenting them with a hypothetical situation that

provides an opportunity to explore how they would react if a presenting problem

miraculously disappeared overnight. They are asked questions such as: "What would be

different?" or "How would you know the problem disappeared?" A client presented with

a miracle question has the opportunity to think of what life would be like without the

specific problem. After the client reflects on the question the counselor asks what things

would need to occur in real life if a miracle were to become a reality, emphasizing the

client's role in bringing about the desired changes. This method allows clients to discover

their own solutions, with guidance from the counselor. According to Murphy (1994,

1997), the use of positive exceptions is the driving force behind the miracle question. It is

during these moments that a client is forced to think about her/his role in creation of

constructive solutions.

Hopefully, the miracle question and the focus on positive exceptions interact to

create positive change, no matter how small the size of that change. LaFountain, Garner

and Eliason (1996) write that counselors using SFC methods should be concerned with

any amount of change, regardless of how small. These researchers assert that major

changes in a client's life, and the ways in which changes account for solutions and

improvements, are first based on small changes. From small but significant change, they

postulate that it is possible for clients to establish long-term goals and to activate

workable solutions. Considering that concrete, small, realistic goals and solutions are

particularly useful when working with children and adolescents, school counselors can

benefit from using SFC when assisting students assigned to their often overwhelming

caseloads (Bonnington, 1993; Mosert, Johnson, & Mosert, 1997).

Professional school counselors are using the recent surge in research and practice

of SFC to justify the increased use of this brief counseling approach in school settings.

Although few school counselors deal with the stress of third-party payments and health

management organizations, they do experience large caseloads and limited time in the

school day to effectively address the needs of students, faculty, parents and the school

administration. Downing and Harrison (1992), citing the "realities of school counseling,"

acknowledge that SFC can assist school counselors in becoming more efficient and

productive facilitators in spite of the alarming number of duties for which they are


As noted, elementary school counselors can benefit from SFC in that it helps them

provide effective individual and small-group counseling services in spite of large

caseloads. Also, LaFountain and Gamrner (1996) acknowledge the usefulness of SFC

techniques with young children by highlighting the use of concrete activities such as,

homework assignments, using art to tell stories, and structured thematic units that can be

used highlight and identify exceptions to children's problems. As stated earlier, solutions

and goals can be set for the student-client after new ideas and perspectives are outlined

through SFC techniques.

The idea of the "miracle question" is also useful when working with young

children, as is the case in this study. Sklare (1997) wrote that children who identify with

the concept of magic, tales of fiction and make-believe and storytelling, would approve

and relate to the use of a miracle or magic questions. Sklare is aware of the unrealistic

goals and forecasts that young children may aspire to in answering a miracle question.

However, he calls on the counselor to reframe and guide the child to a more probable and

realistic solution.

Considering that young children posses fewer life-experiences from which to

draw upon than do adults, some critics of SFC claim that children lack the awareness and

skills to make SFC a useful counseling approach in school counseling (Thompson &

Rudolph, 2000). However, several researchers believe the strength of the counselor-child

relationship, as well as the counselor's ability to follow the lead of the child, are

responsible for yielding positive results from the use of SFC (Campbell & Elder, 1999;

Mosert, Johnson, & Mosert, 1997; Sklare, 1997). Murphy (1997) points to genuinely

matching the child's language, when appropriate, as another key to compensating for a

child's lack of resourcefulness. This adds a sense of empathy and patience to a SFC-type

counseling session where the child feels acknowledged and respected. As a result,

children feel they are equal partners in the communication process that occurs in the

counseling environment.

Murphy (1994) acknowledges the empowering affect SFC and its use of

exceptions can have on children's self-esteem and sustained use of newly discovered

solutions over long periods of time. In a separate study by LaFountain and Garner (1996),

heightened levels of self-esteem were found for children who participated in small groups

led by school counselors trained in SFC.

Regarding multicultural issues, Thompson and Rudolph (2000) write that SFC is

applicable to Hispanic American/Latino culture members because of the directive and

focused nature of the methods, along with the concept of centering on the here-and-now.

According to Thompson and Rudolph, Hispanic Americans/Latino children feel more

comfortable with counselors that offer directive hands-on interventions instead of

cognitive, esoteric, affective, open-ended counseling sessions. While cautioning against

generalizations regarding how diverse cultures react to counseling, Thompson and

Rudolph indicate that Hispanic Americans/Latinos tend to favor interventions that are

concise and those that can be completed in less than ten sessions.

The concrete nature of the interventions, emphasis on the counselor-client

relationship, overall positive reaction of Hispanic Americans/Latinos to SFC, and

unconditional positive regard for children inherent in de Shazer's theory have led to the

decision to use SFC in this study. Furthermore, studies on the efficacy of SFC with small

group interventions demonstrate positive outcomes when working with children

experiencing difficulty in the school environment (Clark, 1998; LaFountain & Garner,


Small Group Counseling Interventions

Small group counseling can be used to assist children in expressing feelings and

in coping with various problems (Corey, 2000). According to Corey, counseling groups

in an elementary school setting can be effectively used for developmental, remedial and

preventative purposes. Counseling groups also provide school counselors with the

opportunity to effectively provide services to concurrently meet the needs of many

children (Brown, 1994). Through group work, school counselors can identify and assist

young children in their academic and social development. Experiencing this intervention

can provide children with the coping mechanisms and strategies needed to effectively

handle current and future negative experiences they may encounter.

Gibson, Mitchell, and Basilie (1993) consider small group counseling beneficial

for children in that it enables them to confront concerns in a social environment, where

they gain indirect support from the notion that their problem is not exclusive to them.

This idea of universality, developed by Yalom (1995), leads to decreased shame,

isolation and self-perceptions of being different from others.

The developmental nature of counseling groups proves very useful when working

with children's self-concepts, attitudes toward school and improved academic success;

the three dependent variables addressed in this study. Jacobs, Harvill, and Masson (1994)

consider a small group intervention to be effective in treating children with negative self-

concepts. These authors indicate that well organized groups, with structured activities and

exercises, can assist students by increasing feelings of self worth. In working with

learning disabled students, Amerikaner and Summerlin (1982) determined students

participating in a social-skills group counseling intervention showed increased self-

esteem when compared to students who did not take part in the counseling activity.

Regarding attitudes, Campbell and Myrick (1990) found increases in children's

positive attitude toward schools for those who participated in group counseling. Teachers

of low-performing students in this study rated their students as having a better attitude

and improved behavior after taking part in structured activities centered on self-concept,

motivation, school attitude and behavior. Also, Myrick and Dixon (1985) used the

existence of a positive correlation between positive school attitudes and academic success

as justification for providing small group counseling interventions focused on improving

self-concepts to unmotivated or troubled students. A related study by Kilmann, Henry,

Scarboro, and Laughlin (1979), found that elementary school-aged underachieving

students were more motivated to learn after engaging in a nine-week, small-group

counseling experience focusing on self-control and behavior modification.

The future of school counseling is directly related to the current focus on

accountability of academic success and improved standardized test scores for all students.

Schmidt (1999) stresses the importance for school counselors to become active agents in

helping children meet the rigors of academic standards. He advocates the use of small

group counseling as an effective way to improve academic success for children. Gerler,

Kinney, and Anderson (1985) conducted research to test the effects of individual and

small-group counseling interventions on students' school performance. Students who

participated in the experimental group of this study demonstrated significant

improvements in mathematics and language arts grades when compared to students in the

control group not receiving the intervention. Gerler, Kinney, and Anderson (1985)

concluded that general counseling interventions that positively change a child's self-

concept and focus on study-skills also accentuate the importance of socio-emotional

variables regarding academic achievement.

As noted previously, solution-focused counseling is effective when administered

through small-group interventions in a school setting. LaFountain, Garner, and Eliason

(1996) indicate that school counselors who conduct SFC groups have the opportunity to

simultaneously work with four or more students. These researchers believe it is in the

best interest of the school counselor to work with a group of students who share the same

problems, concerns, or situations, as opposed to working with them on an individual

basis. Since SFC counselors concern themselves with finding solutions instead of

dwelling on problems, children in SFC groups can work together, with guidance from the

school counselor as a small group leader, on establishing goals and solutions (Coe &

Zimpher, 1996). In general, solution-focused counseling groups allow children to bring

their experiences to a counseling session, share those experiences with peers, engage in

open discussion on feasibility of solutions, implement new solutions, and recount to the

group the efficacy of newly-acquired coping skills.

When working with children from culturally diverse populations, researchers

(Fehr, 1999; Pedersen, 1997; Yalom, 1995) caution small-group counselors to become

aware of their own biases before beginning a small-group intervention. The success and

ability to apply small group counseling techniques to Hispanic American/Latino children

depends more on the counselor's multicultural training, awareness of her/his own culture,

and knowledge of her/his clients' cultural identity than the students' ethnicity (Corey,

2000). Overall, minority students from various cultural backgrounds will find small-

group counseling experiences to be rewarding and beneficial (Lee, 1995).

Because of the ever-growing numbers of LEP students in U.S. schools, school

counselors are faced with providing services to a vastly diverse student population

(Keyes, 1989). Small-group counseling becomes a viable intervention in light of

increasing Hispanic American/Latino, LEP caseloads. As noted, school counselors often

organize and effectively execute small-group counseling activities for children focusing

on divorced families, relocating to a new school and grief issues (Schmidt, 1999;

Thompson & Rudolph, 2000). Therefore, it is also plausible for school counselors to

assist elementary school-aged, LEP Hispanic American/Latino children experiencing

difficulty in the school setting by providing them with a small-group counseling

experience designed to fit their specific needs.


Ogbu (1995) emphasized that LEP students experiencing problems with school

adjustment and related socio-emotional concerns can benefit from additional assistance

from school personnel. School counselors fill this role by facilitating Hispanic

American/Latino LEP children's adjustment to the school environment using a variety of

interventions (Gopaul-McNicol & Thomas-Presswood, 1998; Lee, 1995). A review of the

professional literature in this chapter has provided information on relevant factors and

techniques necessary to assist this specific group of elementary school-aged children.

The use of a small-group solution-focused counseling intervention, grounded in

ameliorating a child's concerns and worries through reflective listening, can help a school


counselor establish rapport with children while also furthering their academic and

personal/social coping skills (Wittmer, 2000). Cognizant of how language acquisition and

negative educational experiences may hinder the socio-emotional development and

academic progress of these children, this study seeks to determine the effectiveness of

SFC, small-group counseling interventions as they pertain to Hispanic American/Latino

LEP children.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a structured, small

group, solution-focused counseling intervention with Spanish-speaking, LEP, elementary

school students. The sample for the experimental and control groups was derived from

LEP children in Grades three, four, and five who had received public school ESOL/ESL

instruction for at least one year. The researcher-developed counseling intervention,

administered by specially trained school counseling graduate students enrolled in their

internships, was evaluated for its effectiveness in assisting Spanish-speaking, LEP

students attain greater academic success, improve their self-concepts, and develop more

positive school attitudes. Pre- and post-measures of effectiveness were completed by the

participating students. A random sample of participating students were asked to respond

to a set of qualitative, structured, open-ended questions following the experimental


The sampling and research procedures are described in this chapter. The

intervention and counselor training for the study also are described.


The population of interest for this study was native-Spanish-speaking, LEP

students in the third, fourth, or fifth grade who had received at least one year of

ESOL/ESL education. Students participating in the study were classified as LEP and

enrolled in a public school ESOL/ESL program in the Lafayette School Corporation

(LSC), Lafayette, Indiana.


In 2001, the population of Lafayette, a mid-size city, was 56,397. In the academic

year 2000-2001, the Indiana Department of Education (2001) reported the Lafayette

School Corporation as having 7405 students attending 14 schools. Eleven of the 14

schools are elementary schools. A total of 3706 students were enrolled in Grades K

through 6, with 1802 in Grades 3, 4, and 5. In addition, 27.3% of all students were

eligible for free lunch and 21.2% of students fell into the "Minority" category African

American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Native American, and Other.

The 2001 demographics for Lafayette were similar to those statewide with the

exception of Hispanic American/Latino residents and LEP students enrolled in

ESOL/ESL programs. According to the State of Indiana (Stats Indiana, 2001), Hispanic

American/Latinos accounted for 5.6% of the population in Lafayette, compared to 3.5%

statewide. Lafayette reported a 307% increase in the number of Hispanic

American/Latino residents between 1990 and 2000, the second largest increase in Indiana

during the same time period. Most of these Latinos identified themselves as Mexican.

Most of the Hispanic American/Latino population in this area is employed in agriculture

or automobile manufacturing. With regard to LEP students, 1.36% of the Indiana public

school students were enrolled in ESOL/ESL programs statewide in 2001, while 6.49% of

Lafayette students were receiving ESOL/ESL instruction.

At the time of the study, 15.51% of all elementary school students enrolled in the

LSC indicated Hispanic American/Latino as their ethnicity (Indiana Department of

Education, 2001). According to data provided by the LSC, 360 elementary school-aged,

LEP, Spanish-speaking students were receiving some sort of ESOL/ESL instruction

during the 2001-2002 academic year. Of the 360 LEP, Spanish-speaking students, 194

elementary school children had received at least one year of ESOL/ESL instruction.

Sampling Procedure

Permission to conduct the research with a particular school district/corporation

was sought after the University of Florida's Institutional Review Board granted approval

for the study. After establishing that Lafayette, Indiana had an above average number of

Hispanic American/Latino residents, the researcher sought the support and permission to

conduct this research project within the Lafayette School Corporation.

In 2001, the Lafayette School Corporation had nine elementary schools where

ESOL/ESL services for elementary school-aged children were provided. The Hispanic

American/Latino student population in these schools accounted for 10% or more of the

entire school enrollment. The details of the research project were presented to all nine

principals as well as to the assistant superintendent for elementary education for LSC.

School principals were provided with general information about the study, the population

of interest for the study, a description of the counseling intervention as well as all other

logistics pertinent to the study. Of the nine school principals who reviewed the

information, four out of nine agreed to involve their schools in this project. Those who

did not volunteer to do so indicated the project was too time consuming and/or did not

see the benefits of associating their schools with the project.

A list, compiled of eligible students in Grades three, four, and five from the four

participating schools, totaled 91. The four participating school principals assumed the

responsibility of distributing informational materials to all ESOL/ESL students and their

parents. The materials distributed to children and their families included informed

consent forms, as well as a brief description of the study. All information provided to

parents was written in both English and Spanish. The 59 students whose parents provided

consent to participate in the study were randomly assigned to the control group or the

treatment groups) at their schools, respectively.

Resultant Sample

The resultant sample was composed of 59 ESOL/ESL students from four

elementary schools whose parents provided consent for participation in the study. The

pre- and post-tests measures, as well as the treatment were completed for all students

within the pre-established time frame. Student demographics of the four participating

schools are given in Table 3-1.

Table 3-1
Total Enrollment and Student Race/Ethnicity by Participating School

School Number Enrollment Percent of Students by Race/Ethnicity
White Black Latino Asian Native American

1 547 75% 2.6% 17.2% 1.1% 0.2%
2 444 59.9% 7% 28.2% 0.7% 0.2%
3 366 71% 6.8% 19.7% 0.0% 0.0%
4 375 78.1% 3.7% 12.8% 1.6% 0.3%

The number of participating students per school varied from 6 to 21. Based on

related research and expert opinion (Wittmer, 2000), it was determined that no treatment

group should have more than five members. For this reason, the sample was divided into

a control group of 31 students and an experimental group of 28 students. Of the six

treatment groups, one had three participants while the other five consisted of five

participants each. The demographics of the total sample, treatment group and control

group are found in Table 3-2.

The control group consisted of 19 females and 12 males and the treatment group

included 17 females and 11 males. Five of the control group members were 8-year-olds,

thirteen were 9-year-olds, ten were 10-year-olds and three were 1 l-year-olds. The

treatment group consisted of nine children who were 8-year-olds, eight who were 9-year-

olds, eight who were 10-year-olds and three who were 1 1-year-olds.

Demographic Characteristics of Sample by Sex. Age-level, and Level of Time in
ESOL/ESL Program

Sex Age-Level Level for Time in ESOL/ESL
Groupings Male Female 8 9 10 11 3 Years 4 Years 5 years
Sample 39% 61% 24% 36% 30% 10% 35.6% 35.6% 28.8%
Treatment 39% 61% 32% 29% 29% 10% 35.8% 32.1% 32.1%

Control 39% 61% 16% 42% 32% 10% 35.5% 38.7% 25.8%

Relevant Variables

Two standardized assessment instruments were administered pre- and post-

intervention to participants in both the control and experimental groups. The instruments

used were the (a) Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS) and the (b)

School Attitude Inventory (SAI). In order to ensure confidentiality of scores, all

instrument measures were coded according to gender, age-level, and level of time in

ESOL/ESL programs for each participating child. In addition, after the treatment, an

open-ended, three-question interview was conducted with a small, random sample of

children from the experimental and control groups. The group consisted of 24 children,

roughly 40% of the original sample.

Independent Variables

According to Gay (2000), quantitative research studies wherein the researcher

manipulates an independent variable are considered to be experimental in nature.


Therefore, the independent variable for this study was the solution-focused, small-group

counseling treatment (Appendix D).

The researcher, with the assistance of the counseling interns, randomly assigned

students at their respective schools to the treatment or control groups. As noted, 28

children participated in the small group treatment experience while 31 comprised the

control group.

The masters-level school counseling interns attended a 2-hour workshop

conducted by the researcher prior to implementing the treatment (Appendix B). The

treatment facilitators were responsible for leading the experimental small groups in their

assigned schools, as well as administering the pre and post measures. The control group

participants did not receive treatment. However, the researcher and participating school

principals undertook measures to provide the small-group counseling intervention to the

control group once post-treatment data had been collected from both groups.

Finally, in order to account for fidelity of treatment, each treatment facilitator

completed a weekly checklist to verify duration of the weekly small group interventions,

the completion of the structured exercises in each activity, the discussion of homework

assignments, and any presenting problems with the intervention.

Dependent Variables

This study focused on two dependent variables: participating student's self-

concept and school attitude.

The academic success of the participants also was of interest in this study. This

variable was addressed by the researcher asking three open-ended questions (Appendix

C) to a small, selected sample of experimental and control group participants at the

conclusion of the 6-week treatment. The structured interviews helped gauge possible


changes in students' perceptions of their academic success following the treatment. Their

responses were recorded and appear in Appendix E.


In order to determine the effects of the treatment, the following assessment

measures were used: Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS), the School

Attitude Inventory (SAI) and the three-question structured interview (Appendix C). Both

the PHCSCS and the SAI are self-report surveys. Pre-test and post-test of the PHCSCS

and SAI were administered by the group facilitators and scored within five days of being

administered. The structured interview was conducted by the researcher, without previous

contact with the respondents or knowledge of treatment/control group affiliation (blind


Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS)

The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS) was developed in

1966 by Ellen Piers and Dale Harris to assess how children and adolescents feel about

themselves (Epstein, 1985). The PHCSCS is normed-referenced and intended for use

with children ages eight through 18. It was originally normed on a sample of 1,183

Pennsylvania children in Grades three through twelve (Piers, 1984).

The PHCSCS is a self-report measure composed of 80 items and takes

approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. Responses to the items are either "yes" or

"no," indicating if the item is true or not (most of the time) for the experience described.

An adult may administer the PHCSCS individually or to a group of children. Children

taking the PHCSCS may read the items themselves or, if necessary, the examiner is

permitted to read the questionnaire aloud, especially to children in lower grades (four,

five, and six) and younger (Epstein, 1985). According to Jeske (1985), procedures for

administering, hand scoring, and interpreting the instrument may be completed in 30

minutes per student.

The PHCSCS was designed to measure how children and adolescents perceive

themselves within six areas:

Behavior (16 items)
Intellectual and school status (17 items)
Physical attributes and appearance (13 items)
Anxiety (14 items)
Popularity (12 items)
Happiness and satisfaction (10 items)

According to Piers (1984), the six "clusters" that comprise the PHCSCS were

chosen based on a meta-analysis of correlations of seven separate samples of students.

Along with an overall score, the PHCSCS yields scores for the six individual clusters.

The participants' overall score, as well as individual cluster scores, were a part of the data

analyzed in this study.

Teachers and trained paraprofessionals are best suited for administering the

PHCSCS, while interpreting the scores should be done by masters-level professionals

with advance knowledge of psychological assessments (Piers, 1984). The lowest possible

raw score for each cluster is "0" while the highest raw score depends on the number of

items in the specific cluster. The overall raw score for the PHCSCS is determined by

adding the six individual raw scores, with the lowest score being "0" and the highest

score being "80." Information for converting raw scores into percentiles, stanines and T-

scores are provided on the individual answer sheets. Higher raw scores correspond with

higher stanines, percentiles, and T-scores.

Tests of reliability for the PHCSCS have been conducted with a variety of

children. Using the Kuder-Richarsdon Formula 20, reliabilities of .88 .93 for males and


females were cited by Piers (1984) for the overall test scores. Also, alpha coefficients of

.90 .91 were reported by Piers for males and females. Thus, internal consistency for the

total score on the test is relatively high. Finally, Piers (1984) reports a .72 reliability

coefficient for a four-month test-retest time interval based on a study of children in the

third grade.

Tests of reliability for individual clusters of items are based on the initial

standardization sample for the six sub-scales using 485 students from the original 1,183,

and an additional 97 children from Pennsylvania outpatient psychiatric clinics.

Coefficient alpha levels of internal consistency were reported at .73 for Satisfaction, .74

for Popularity, .76 for Physical appearance, .77 for Anxiety, .78 for Intellectual and

School Status, and .81 for Behavior (Piers, 1984).

A number of empirical studies by Piers (1984) were used to determine the

content, criterion-related, and construct validity of the PHCSCS. An original factor

analysis conducted by Piers (1984) in order to establish content validity narrowed down

ten original scales into the current six clusters. A follow-up factor analysis using the six

clusters was conducted ten years later and yielded strong support for the original six

clusters (Piers, 1984). Other studies cited by Piers (1984) indicate support for most or all

of the six clusters of the PHCSCS. Piers also determined levels of intercorrelation among

the six clusters of items in order to establish criterion-related validity, yielding

correlations ranging from .21 to .59. Finally, construct validity estimates were determined

by comparing the PHCSCS to several related instruments, including the Coopersmith

Self-Esteem Inventory and Personal Attribute Inventory for Children. Correlations

between the PHCSCS and the other measures ranged from .32 to .85 (Piers, 1984).

The PHCSCS, considered an excellent research instrument (Epstein, 1985), has

been used successfully by several researchers to study the self-concepts of bilingual

Hispanic-American/Latino children and adolescents (Piers, 1984). These two factors,

along with strong reliability and validity indicators, demonstrated the rationale for using

the PHCSCS in this study.

School Attitude Inventory (SAI)

The School Attitude Inventory (SAI) (Appendix C) is a self-report, paper-and-

pencil measure that consists of ten items dealing with one's pleasure, excitement, and

personal control at school. The items comprise behaviors related to school success and

attitude toward school for elementary aged children (Cuthbert, 1987). Student's responses

to the SAI are based on a pictorial scale termed the Self-Assessment Manikin (Lang,

1980). The Self-Assessment Manikin was based on factor analytic studies of affective

ratings with children (Osgood, 1962).

The SAI evaluation scale for each item is presented visually through use of three

cartoon panels. Each panel consists of five pictures. The first panel reveals a cartoon

figure with five variations of a face, from excessive smiling to extreme frowning. This is

intended to measure a young child's happiness at school. The second panel shows a

cartoon figure with five variations of stress, from being highly anxious or stressed to utter

calmness. The third panel depicts a cartoon figure with five variations of control, from a

small size figure representing total control to a large figure representing extreme lack of

control. This is intended to measure the level of a young child's perceived control at

school. Students taking the SAI indicate their choices to each of the ten items in relation

to the three dimensions (happiness, stress and control) by placing an "X" over the picture

that best symbolizes their feelings regarding a specific dimension. Each dimension has a


range from one to five points per question. Thus, total scores on the SAI range from 30 to

150, with total scores per question ranging from three to 15 and total scores per

dimension range from 10 to 50. For analysis purposes, each response is converted into

numbers, with "5" representing the most pleasure, "5" the most calm, and "5" the most


Cuthbert (1987) used the SAI in a study focusing on measuring the effectiveness

of an elementary school classroom guidance unit for promoting school success.

Consequently, the SAI was developed for children at or above a third-grade reading level.

However, in cases where children are unable to read and comprehend the items, the SAI

can be read aloud to children (Webb, 1999). Cuthbert (1987) conducted test-retest

reliability for the SAI and found a coefficient of stability of .76 with 49 third-grade


Three-Question Interview for Academic Success

The researcher randomly selected 24 children (12 from the experimental group

and 12 from the control group) to participate in a structured, three open-ended-question

interview (p. 112) regarding their perceived academic success. In accordance with proper

structured interview techniques, each child was asked the same three pre-established

questions in the same order (Fontana & Frey, 2000). The responses of the 24 participants

were recorded in writing and analyzed using qualitative research methods. The research

methodology used to analyze the questionnaire data is given below and the results are

given in Chapter 4 and discussed in Chapter 5.


A .05 alpha level of significance was used to determine whether differences found

between the means of the experimental and control group were due to chance or to the


treatment provided. According to McNamara (1994), an appropriate level of significance

(ox = .05 in this case) represents the risk of wrongfully rejecting the null hypothesis and

thereby committing a Type I error.

The following eight null hypothesis were tested:

1. There is no difference in the self-concept of third, fourth and fifth grade Hispanic
American/Latino, LEP children in ESOL/ESL programs as a result of
participation in the experimental small group intervention, as compared to the
control group.

2. There is no difference in the attitudes toward school of third, fourth and fifth
grade Hispanic American/Latino, LEP children in ESOL/ESL programs as a
result of participation in the experimental small group intervention, as compared
to the control group.

3. There is no self-concept interaction among treatment and gender.

4. There is no self-concept interaction among treatment and age-level.

5. There is no self-concept interaction among treatment and level for time in
ESOLIESL program.

6. There is no school attitude interaction among treatment and gender.

7. There is no school attitude interaction among treatment and age-level.
8. There is no school attitude interaction among treatment and level for time in
ESOIJESL program.

In addition to the hypotheses testing listed above, the researcher determined the

effectiveness of the small group counseling intervention on participants' school success.

The researcher sought to ascertain the relationship between school success and

participation in the treatment or control group, by using the qualitative data collected

using the structured interview instrument.

Research Design and Data Analyses

The research design used for this study was a pre-post, control group design.

Children were randomly assigned to a control or experimental group at their individual

schools. Random assignment of the children to the experimental and control groups

enhanced internal validity (Gay, 2000). As noted, there were a total of 59 children,

representing four different schools, participating in the study. A total of 31 children were

in randomly assigned to the control group while 28 children participated in the

experimental group. Table 3-3 details the experimental design for this study.

Analysis was performed on the pre-to-post test changes in scores for the two

standardized measures used in the study. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) was

conducted to determine the significance of differences between groups, with the

participants' pre-test scores used as the covariate (Shavelson, 1996). Factorial ANCOVA

was used to determine relationships and differences among self-concept and school

attitudes, and gender, age-level and level for time students had been enrolled in

ESOJL/ESL program also were computed.

Qualitative research analyses were applied to respondents' answers to the

structured interview administered by the researcher. Data was gathered from key-words-

in-context (KWIC) lists derived from the ethnographic examination of field notes (Ryan

& Bernard, 2000). The qualitative data then was analyzed through the constant

comparative method. According to Gilgun, Daly and Handel (1992), this method, derived

from grounded theory, can be conducted in order to determine possible similarities and

differences between control and experimental groups. This was done by comparing the

KWIC lists from the treatment group with the KWIC lists derived from the control group

respondents to the 3 questions.

The researcher conducted the short, approximately five-minute long interview,

with each of the 24 participants (12 control and 12 experimental group participants). The


interviews were conducted in English and each interviewee agreed that she/he understood

the questions asked. Of the 12 participating control group members, eight were female

and four were male. Consequently, seven female participants and five male participants

comprised the 12 treatment group participants. Overall, 15 female students and nine male

students were interviewed.

Table 3.3
Pre-Post Control-Experimental Group Design

Outcome measurement times
Condition Pre Post
Ti R 01 02 X 01 02
Ci R 01 02 01 02
T2 R 01 02 X 01 02
C2 R 01 02 01 02
T3 R 01 02 X 01 02
C3 R 01 02 01 02
T4 R 01 02 X 01 02
C4 R 01 02 01 02

Tn = Treatment group and school number
Cn = Control group and school number
R = Random assignment of subjects to groups
X = Group counseling treatment for LEP, ESOL/ESL students
01 = Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS)
02 = School Attitude Inventory (SAI)

Masters-level School Counseling Student Training

The researcher trained the two female, Caucasian, masters-level school

counseling interns in the implementation and use of the small group intervention. The

facilitators were 25 and 41 years old. The training consisted of a 2-hour in-service

meeting designed to prepare them to implement the small-group counseling treatment

along with specific instructions so as to insure that the treatment would be uniform and

consistent across the participating treatment groups and schools.

The scope of the information presented as a handout packet at the in-service

training included a description of the research and its procedures, and a standardized

schedule for delivering the intervention to the selected students (Appendix B). Particular

attention was given to obtaining data for the dependent variables, including instructions

on how to administer the instruments. Also, controlling and standardizing the

experimental conditions as much as possible was discussed in order to limit differences

among the experimental groups. The in-service concluded with an opportunity for both

interns to ask questions and provide comments. A brief workshop outline follows below.

Details of the workshop are provided in Appendix B.

Masters-level School Counseling Student Training Workshop Outline

Purpose of the Study (5 minutes)
Experiences of Hispanic American/Latino, Limited-English Proficient Children
(50 minutes)
A. Needs of Hispanic American/Latino children and counseling issues
B. Educational experiences of Spanish-speaking, LEP children
C. English-as-a-Second-Language instruction and language acquisition
D. Assisting Hispanic American/Latino, LEP students in ESOL/ESL
Research Procedures (50 minutes)
A. Overview of research design
B. Small-Group Guidance and Solution-Focused Counseling
C. Randomization of student participants
D. Informed notice and consent
E. Collecting pre- and post-data
Delivery of Counseling Interventions
Return of Research Materials (5 minutes)
Questions and Comments (10 minutes)

Lastly, the researcher provided weekly written notices to each of the group

facilitators in an effort to assist them to follow the timeline, suggestions for counseling

Hispanic American/Latino students, providing the intervention and related home

activities, and administering the post-measures.

Description of Treatment

A solution-focused, small group counseling intervention, developed by the

researcher, was used in this study. The treatment period for the experimental group

spanned 6 weeks and included one 40-minute session per week. The intervention was

conducted during the Fall 2001 semester to coincide with the second school grading

period. The participating LEP students assigned to the experimental group received the

small-group treatment.

The overall theme of the 6-session, small-group intervention was that of a

structured "treasure hunt," including structured take-home assignments. The items that

were "discovered" and "collected" to use treatment jargon consisted of skills and

tools that can be helpful to LEP, Spanish-speaking students, in order to achieve academic

success and to develop a positive self-concept and overall more positive school attitude.

The solution-focused counseling, 6-session, thematic unit was designed to give children

the impression that they are on a quest for "items" to place in their "treasure bags," with

the school counselor serving as their "Treasure Hunt" guide again, using treatment

jargon. The results of participating in the treatment were a completed treasure map for

each experimental group participant that depicts improved academic achievement, social-

emotional development, and school adjustment.

The pre-tests were administered by the masters-level school counseling students

to the 59 participants, one week prior to the first small-group counseling session. The

experimental groups began meeting the following week. The control group members

continued to go about their regular school routines.

The first session of the counseling intervention focused on establishing school

counselor-child rapport. The first session also introduced the entire intervention,

addressed the reason for the children's participation and explained the treasure hunt

theme, confidentiality in the group, duration of each session, number of sessions, and

additional questions the children may have had. The remaining five sessions addressed

specific stigmas, problems, and concerns encountered in the school environment, as well

as other issues facing the Spanish-speaking, LEP students in the school environment.

Students in the treatment group were excused from recess and physical education classes

in order to take part in the intervention.

To adhere to the basic premises of solution-focused counseling, children

participating in the experimental small groups were provided with the opportunity to

develop and implement solutions to possible concerns and issues. Dealing with

discrimination, discussing and acknowledging emotions and experiences related to being

ethnically and linguistically different from peers, discussing their experiences with their

ESOL/ESL teachers, reducing stress caused by non-native language instruction,

developing better study skills, strengthening self-concept, coping with a society and

school environment different from the one experienced in the home and country of origin,

and planning for future goals are among the topics were addressed in the small-group

counseling sessions. At the conclusion of each session, children were encouraged to

apply what they learned in the small group setting to their school and home environments

during the next week. Therefore, homework assignments were completed by participants

and became a major aspect of the following small-group session. The intervention

culminated at the end of 6 weeks with a wrap-up session to highlight key points and

agreed upon solutions.

The post-tests and open-ended question, structured interviews were conducted

within a total of seven days of termination of the treatment. Both the experimental and

control group members were administered the post-tests measures by the school

counseling interns three days following the last small group session with the experimental

groups. The researcher conducted the three-question, structured interview within seven

days of the administering the post-treatment measures.


The study occurred during the second grading period of the 2001-2002 public

school year, between October and December 2001. Prior to beginning the study, the

researcher met with administrators and nine elementary school principals in the Lafayette

(Indiana) School Corporation to secure permission to conduct the research within their

school corporation. The researcher conducted in-service training with the two masters-

level school counseling interns to discuss assessment administration and their facilitating

of the small group counseling treatment. The six treatment sessions lasted approximately

40 minutes each and occurred once per week. The researcher conducted interviews with

24 participants using a qualitative, open-ended, three-item questionnaire. The interviews

followed the post-test administration of assessment instruments.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a solution focused, small

group counseling intervention with third, fourth, and fifth grade, limited English

proficient (LEP), Hispanic American/Latino students' self-concepts and attitudes toward

school. The students selected for participation in the study were all participants in an

English for Speakers of Other Languages/English as a Second Language (ESOL/ESL)

public school program and had been so enrolled for at least one year prior to the

beginning of the study. The small group counseling intervention, developed and written

by the researcher, was designed to improve the students' self-concepts and attitudes

toward school, as well as their overall perceived school success.

Two school counseling interns, both enrolled in a graduate-level program in a

Counselor Education department, delivered the structured, small group intervention to the

students over a 6-week time period. Both interns were in their final semester of internship

and were female, and were 25 and 41 years of age. Lastly, both completed the required

training for administering the assessments used in the study and for effectively

conducting the 6-week long treatment. The school counseling interns also were

responsible for administering the pre- and post-measures.

In order to determine the effectiveness of the small group counseling intervention,

statistical analyses were conducted on the pre- and post-test data collected. A two-way

ANOVA was performed on the school effects data, an ANCOVA on the main effects and

an ANCOVA was performed on the categorical data.

Two dependent measures, the Piers-Harris Children Self-Concept Scale

(PHCSCS) and the School Attitude Inventory (SAI) were administered to all participants

(N = 59). A qualitative, structured interview, conducted by the researcher following

completion of the small group intervention, was completed with a random sample of

participants from the experimental and control groups. The three-question, verbal

interview was conducted to determine the perceived overall effectiveness of the

intervention on participants' perceived school success.

The 28 third through fifth grade students who completed the 6-week treatment

program were enrolled in four different public schools in a city in Indiana. Random

assignment of students to the control and treatment groups was done prior to

administering the pre-test measures. This random assignment resulted in 31 students

being placed in the control group and 28 in the treatment group. Twenty-four of the 59

participants also were randomly selected to participate in the qualitative, structured

interview at the conclusion of the treatment.

Data Analyses

Eight hypotheses were tested on the two quantitative dependent variables. The

level of significance was set at .05 for all statistical tests performed. The means and

standard deviations for the pre- and post-tests are provided in Table 4-1.

School Effects

The 59 students participating in this study had been assigned to four intact school

groups. Thus, a two-way ANOVA was conducted on pre-assessment measures for the

PHCSCS and SAI to test for the between schools differences and/or school-by-group as

well as for between interactions. The data analysis yielded no significant differences

between schools for the PHCSCS pre-test (F (1,51) = 2.13, tp = .11), or the SAI pre-test

(F (1,51) = 1.16, p = .34). Also, the school-by-group interactions were not found to be

significant for the PHCSCS (F (3,51) = 2.37, p = .68) or the SAI (F (3,51) = .64, p = .59).

Therefore, the data for both the control and treatment groups were collapsed, to establish

one treatment group (N = 28) and one control group (N = 31). The complete results of

this ANOVA are found in Table 4-2.

Table 4-1
Means and Standard Deviation of Pre- and Post-Test Scores for Control and Treatment
Group Students

Variable N Mean Std Dev
Control Group Students
PHCSCS Pre 31 62.64 13.98
PHCSCS -Post 31 62.29 13.55
SAI Pre 31 132.94 18.65
SAI Post 31 134.26 18.89
Treatment Group Students
PHCSCS Pre 28 56.93 11.63
PHCSCS Post 28 57.96 13.63
SAI Pre 28 128.75 16.58
SAI Post 28 131.75 17.63

Table 4-2
Two-way Analysis of Variance for Between Schools Effect and Between Schools Effect
by Treatment Group Effects

Source SS df MS F p

SchGrp, PHCSCS 1023.09 3 341.03 2.13 .11
SchGrp*Trt, PHCSCS 241.55 3 80.59 .50 .68
Error 8175.81 51 160.31
Corrected Total 9995.73 58
SchGrps, SAI 1091.71 3 363.90 1.16 .34
SchGrps*Trt, SAI 606.74 3 202.25 .64 .59
Error 16061.94 51 314.94
Corrected Total 18108.85 58

Main Effects and Interactions

According to Shavelson (1996), use of ANCOVA is appropriate if a correlation

greater than .60 exists between the covariate and post-test. Correlations of .88 between

PHCSCS pre- and post-tests and .67 between SAI pre- and post-tests were found.

Therefore, an ANCOVA, with the pre-test measures of the PHCSCS and SAI as

covariates, was used to test for main effects.


To examine of treatment effects on self-concept, an ANCOVA was conducted on

the participants' total scores on the PHCSCS. The PHCSCS measures a child's self-

concept based on her or his self-report; lower overall scores indicate a lower self-concept

while higher overall scores indicate a higher self-concept.

Participation in the small group intervention by the experimental group yielded no

significant differences between the experimental and control group PHCSCS means. The

following null hypothesis (Ho 1) was not rejected:

Ho 1: There is no difference in the self-concept of third, fourth and fifth grade

Hispanic American/Latino, LEP children in ESOL/ESL programs as a

result of participation in the experimental small group intervention.

The participating students' self-concepts were not significantly affected by the

small group intervention experience as measured by the PHCSCS. The covariate was

significant (F (1,56) = 189.04, p< .001). However, as shown in Table 4-3, although the

(adjusted) mean score on the post-test was slightly higher, the resultant difference was

not significant. The data for this analysis are shown in Table 4-4.

Table 4-3
Adjusted Post-Means of PHCSCS Scores

Source Adjusted Post-Test Means
Control Group 59.79
Treatment Group 60.74

Table 4-4
Analysis of Covariance for Main Effects of Treatment for PHCSCS

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 8116.81 1 8116.81 189.06 .00
Trt 12.74 1 12.74 .30 .59
Error 2404.54 56 42.94
Corrected Total 10976.68 58

Interaction effects. The treatment by gender interaction also was examined for the

PHCSCS to test the following null hypothesis:

Ho3: There is no self-concept interaction of treatment by gender.

The independent variable of gender did not significantly interact for the PHCSCS

(F (1, 54) = .64, p_= .43). Therefore, this null hypothesis was not rejected (see Table 4-5).

Table 4-5
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender and Self-Concept

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 7442.65 1 7442.65 169.17 .00
Sex*Trt 28.10 1 28.10 .64 .43
Error 2375.71 54 43.10
Corrected Total 10796.68 58

The treatment by age-level interaction also was examined for the PHCSCS to test

the following null hypothesis:

Ho4: There is no self-concept interaction of treatment by age-level.

The independent variable of age-level did not significantly interact for the

PHCSCS (F (1,50) = .77, p = .52). Therefore, the null hypothesis was not rejected (see

Table 4-6).

Table 4-6
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Age-Level and Self-Concept

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 6530.22 1 6530.24 148.56 .00
Age*Trt 101.71 1 33.91 .77 .52
Error 2197.81 50 43.96
Corrected Total 10796.68 58

The treatment by level of time in an ESOL/ESL program interaction also was

examined for the PHCSCS test the following null hypothesis:

Ho5: There is no self-concept interaction of treatment by level of time in

ESOL/ESL program.

The independent variable of level of time in an ESOL/ESL program did not

significantly interact for the PHCSCS (F (1, 52) = .20, p = .82). Therefore, null

hypothesis five was not rejected (see Table 4-7).

The six subscales of the PHCSCS also were used to measure the effect of

treatment on the self-concept of the participating students and particularly in regard to

gender, age-level, and level of time in an ESOL/ESL program. No statistically significant

results were revealed by these ANCOVA, for any of the six subscales. The data analyses

for main effects of treatment for the PHCSCS subscales are presented in Tables 4-8 and

4-9. Tables 4-10 through 4-15 present data analyses of interactions for gender, age and

years in ESOL/ESL programs, and PHCSCS subscales.

Table 4-7
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Level of Time in ESOL/ESL Program
and Self-Concept

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 5944.58 1 5944.58 133.07 .00
ESL*Trt 17.58 2 8.79 .20 .82
Error 2322.97 52 44.67
Corrected Total 10796.68 58

Table 4-8
Analysis of Covariance for Main Effects of Treatment for PHCSCS Subscales -
Behavior, Intellectual Status and Physical Appearance

Pre-Test: Behavior

Corrected Total
Pre-Test: Intellectual
Corrected Total
Pre-Test: Physical Appearance
Corrected Total






158.67 .00
.09 .77


Table 4-9
Analysis of Covariance for Main Effects of Treatment for PHCSCS Subscales -
Anxiety. Popularity, and Happiness

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Anxiety 341.92 1 341.92 78.87 .00
Trt 1.14 1 1.14 .26 .61
Error 242.78 56 4.33
Corrected Total 608.24 58
Pre-Test: Popularity 329.83 1 329.83 71.51 .00
Trt 2.13 1 2.13 .46 .50
Error 258.31 56 4.61
Corrected Total 590.98 58
Pre-Test: Happiness 116.48 1 116.48 62.86 .00
Trt 1.16 1 1.16 .62 .43
Error 103.77 56 1.86
Corrected Total 220.95 58

Table 4-10
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Behavior Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Behavior 142.17 1 142.17 24.06 .00
Sex*Trt 12.46 1 12.46 2.11 .15
Error 319.16 54 5.91
Pre-Test: Behavior 146.67 1 146.67 22.90 .00
Age*Trt 7.58 3 2.53 .39 .76
Error 320.18 50 6.40
Pre-Test: Behavior 124.06 1 124.06 22.54 .00
ESL*Trt 26.70 2 13.35 2.43 .10
Error 286.25 52 5.51
Corrected Total 568.75 58

Table 4-11
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Intellectual Status Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Intellectual 659.36 1 659.31 149.95 .00
Sex*Trt 7.73 1 7.73 1.76 .19
Error 237.44 54 4.40
Pre-Test: Intellectual 626.68 1 626.8 145.66 .00
Age*Trt 22.63 3 7.54 1.75 .17
Error 215.12 50 4.30
Pre-Test: Intellectual 553.51 1 553.51 123.75 .00
ESL*Trt 2.86 2 1.43 .32 .73
Error 232.58 52 4.47
Corrected Total 955.19 58

Table 4-12
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Physical Appearance Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Physical Appearance 357.35 1 357.35 62.29 .00
Sex*Trt 1.53 1 1.53 .27 .61
Error 309.84 54 5.74
Pre-Test: Physical Appearance 295.75 1 295.75 54.89 .00
Age*Trt 8.97 3 2.99 .56 .65
Error 269.42 50 5.39
Pre-Test: Physical Appearance 314.30 1 314.30 53.67 .00
ESL*Trt 4.58 2 2.29 .39 .68
Error 304.52 52 5.86
Corrected Total 708.88 58

Table 4-13
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Anxiety Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Anxiety 298.06 1 298.06 66.65 .00
Sex*Trt 1.28 1 1.28 .256 .60
Error 241.48 54 4.47
Pre-Test: Anxiety 323.82 1 323.82 71.80 .00
Age*Trt 12.01 3 4.00 .89 .45
Error 225.52 50 4.51
Pre-Test: Anxiety 260.64 1 260.64 57.00 .00
ESL*Trt 2.65 2 1.32 .29 .75
Error 237.77 52 4.57
Corrected Total 608.24 58

Table 4-14
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Popularity Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Popularity 328.93 1 328.93 70.09 .00
Sex*Trt 4.72 1 4072 1.01 .32
Error 253.41 54 4.70
Pre-Test: Popularity 282.17 1 282.17 61.40 .00
Age*Trt 12.77 3 4.26 .93 .44
Error 229.79 50 4.60
Pre-Test: Popularity 200.33 1 200.33 46.05 .00
ESL*Trt 15.09 2 7.55 1.74 .19
Error 226.19 52 4.35
Corrected Total 590.98 58

Table 4-15
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Self-Concept PHCSCS Happiness Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Happiness 93.94 1 93.94 52.81 .00
Sex*Trt 6.50 1 6.50 3.65 .061
Error 69.06 54 1.78
Pre-Test: Happiness 88.22 1 88.22 54.65 .00
Age*Trt 4.69 3 1.56 .97 .42
Error 80.72 50 1.61
Pre-Test: Happiness 98.87 1 98.87 55.23 .00
ESL*Trt .145 2 7.23 .04 .96
Error 93.09 52 1.79
Correlated Total 220.95 58

Student Attitude Toward School

To study the effects of treatment on students' attitudes toward school, statistical

analyses were conducted on School Attitude Inventory (SAI) scores for the experimental

group. The SAI is a self-report measure of a child's attitude toward school. Lower overall

scores indicate a more negative attitude toward school while higher overall scores

indicate a more positive attitude toward school. The resulting data were used to test the

second null hypothesis:

Ho2: There is no difference in the attitude toward school of third, fourth and

fifth grade Hispanic American/Latino, LEP children in ESOL/ESL

programs as a result of participation in the experimental small group


Participation in the small group intervention by the experimental group yielded no

significant differences in score means on the SAI when compared to the control group's

scores. Therefore, Ho2 was not rejected (see table 4-16). This result indicates that the

participating LEP, Hispanic American/Latino students' overall attitudes toward school

were not significantly affected by the small group intervention (F (1,56) = .53, p = .47).

The covariate analysis was significant (F (1,56) = 44.49, p < .001) indicating a significant

difference between the pre-test group means.

Table 4-16
Analysis of Covariance for Main Effects of Treatment for SAI

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 7800.42 1 7800.42 44.49 .00
Trt 92.61 1 92.61 .53 .47
Error 3818.48 56 175.33
Corrected Total 18031.19 58

The treatment by gender interaction was examined for the SAI. A factorial

ANCOVA was performed to test the following null hypothesis:

Ho6: There is no treatment by gender interaction for attitudes toward school.

The independent variable of gender did not significantly interact with treatment

for the SAI (F (1, 54) = .98, 12_= .33), as shown in Table 4-17. Therefore, this null

hypothesis was not rejected.

Table 4-17
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender and Attitude Toward School

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 7791.46 1 7791.46 45.21 .00
Sex*Trt 168.73 1 168.73 .98 .33
Error 9306.16 54 172.34
Corrected Total 18031.19 58

Another factorial ANCOVA was performed to test the following null hypothesis:

Ho7: There is no treatment by age-level interaction for attitudes toward school.

The independent variable of age-level did not significantly interact with the

treatment for the SAI (F (1,50) = .57, p = .64). Therefore, the null hypothesis was not

rejected (see Table 4-18).

Table 4-18
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Age-Level and Attitude Toward

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 7320.86 1 7320.86 40.36 .00
Age*Trt 312.56 3 104.19 .57 .64
Error 9069.64 50 181.39
Corrected Total 18031.19 58

The treatment by level of time in ESOL/ESL program interaction was examined

for the SAI by factorial ANCOVA to test the following null hypothesis:

Ho8: There is no treatment by level of time in ESOL/ESL program interaction

for attitudes toward school.

The independent variable level of time in ESOL/ESL program did not

significantly interact with treatment. Therefore, the null hypothesis was not rejected (see

Table 4-19).

Table 4-19
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Level for Time in ESOL/ESL
program and Attitude Toward School

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test 6001.61 1 6001.61 32.94 .00
ESL*Trt 63.76 2 31.88 .18 .84
Error 9473.38 52 182.18
Corrected Total 18031.19 58

The data derived from the three subscales of the SAI also were examined in

regard to attitudes toward school, gender, age-level, and level of time in an ESOL/ESL

program. No statistically significant effects were found by the respective ANCOVA. The

data analyses for main effects of treatment for the SAI subscales are presented in Table

4-20. Tables 4-21 through 4-23 present data analyses of interactions for gender, age and

years in ESOL/ESL programs, and SAI subscales.

Table 4-20
Analysis of Covariance for Main Effects of Treatment for SAI Subscales Happiness,
Stress and Self-Control

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Happiness 272.89 1 272.89 15.18 .00
Trt 8.63 1 8.63 .48 .49
Error 1006.57 56 17.98
Corrected Total 2110.92 58
Pre-Test: Stress 674.77 1 674.77 11.58 .00
Trt 10.08 1 10.08 .17 .68
Error 3263.87 56 58.28
Corrected Total 3975.56 58
Pre-Test: Control 881.12 1 881.12 20.09 .00
Trt 16.23 1 16.23 .37 .55
Error 2456.43 56 43.87
Corrected Total 3395.19 58

Table 4-21
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Attitudes Toward School SAI Happiness Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Happiness 1039.70 1 1039.70 57.20 .00
Sex*Trt 18.93 1 18.93 1.04 .31
Error 981.55 54 18.18
Pre-Test: Happiness 1054.36 1 1054.36 56.12 .00
Age*Trt 58.75 3 19.58 1.04 .38
Error 939.32 50 18.79
Pre-Test: Happiness 917.28 1 917.28 46.98 .00
ESL*Trt 47.20 2 23.60 1.29 .29
Error 954.42 52 18.35
Corrected Total 2110.91 58

Table 4-22
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Attitudes Toward School SAI Stress Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Stress 603.93 1 603.93 10.22 .00
Sex*Trt 68.19 1 68.19 1.15 .29
Error 3191.79 54 59.11
Pre-Test: Stress 599.93 1 599.93 9.97 .00
Age*Trt 174.44 3 58.15 .97 .42
Error 3007.88 50 60.16
Pre-Test: Stress 291.69 1 291.69 4.90 .03
ESL*Trt 157.44 2 78.72 1.32 .28
Error 3093.82 52 59.50
Corrected Total 3975.56 58

Table 4-23
Factorial Analysis of Covariance for Interaction of Gender, Age-Level and Level of Time
in ESOL/ESL Programs, and Attitudes Toward School SAI Self-Control Subscale

Source SS df MS F p
Pre-Test: Control 953.85 1 953.85 22.11 .00
Sex*Trt 6.99 1 6.99 .00 .97
Error 2330.01 54 43.15
Pre-Test: Control 798.88 1 798.88 18.32 .00
Age*Trt 45.20 3 15.07 .35 .79
Error 2179.98 50 43.60
Pre-Test: Control 832.94 1 832.94 18.46 .00
ESL*Trt 3.65 2 1.82 .04 .96
Error 2346.09 52 45.12
Corrected Total 3395.19 58

Academic Success

Qualitative data analysis was applied to the students' replies to the structured-

interview questionnaire that was given one week after the conclusion of the 6-week

treatment period. The data from the surveys were separated into two categories for

students in the control and experimental groups. The three questions asked were as

follows: (1) Since the school year started, what or who has helped you with your school

work the most? ; (2) Since the school year started, how happy are you at school? ; (3)

Since the school year started, have you seen your grades and school success change?

Key-word-in-context (KWIC) (Ryan & Bernard, 2000) lists were created for both

the control and experimental group interviewees in order to determine possible

differences between the two groups' responses to the three questions. Overall, 18 of the

24 students responding to the questionnaire indicated improved grades and school

success between the start of the school year and the interview. Four of the 12 children in

the treatment group pointed to the assistance of their ESOL/ESL teachers as being very

helpful to them. Five children in the experimental group indicated that they were

"very/really happy" at school. No children among the interviewed control group

participants mentioned their ESOL/ESL teachers nor did any elaborate on the degree of

change in positive feelings toward school.

"What/Who has helped the most". Ten children in the control group indicated that

their teachers had helped them the most. However, two of the control group children

indicated that a family member (i.e., mother and cousin) as being most helpful.

Responses of children in the experimental group were evenly split among those about

teachers (n = 4), parents (n = 4), and ESOL/ESL teachers (n = 4) who were assisting them

with learning English.

"How happy are you at school". Students in the control group responded to this

question in a variety of ways, with eleven children simply indicating they felt "happy,"

"excited," "fine," and/or "good" about school. One control-group student indicated

feeling sad at school. In contrast, seven of the 12 students in the experimental group

responded, for example "very/really happy," "happy since day one," "so happy about my

good grades," to this question. They elaborated on their responses by stating that

homework had become easier and their grades had improved since the beginning of


"How have you seen your school success/grades change". Each of the 12 students

from the experimental group and the control, 24 in total, indicated that their grades had

improved or that they had always received good grades in their schoolwork. Two of the

students in the control group indicated having received better grades since the beginning

of the school year, specifically in the areas of reading and mathematics; one student in the

treatment group indicated improved grades in math, reading and science.


A summary of the results arranged by dependent variable follows.

Self-Concept (Piers-Harris Children Self-Concept Scale)

1. There was no significant difference between treatment and control groups in

regard to self-concept.

2. There was no significant interaction among gender, age-level and level of years in

ESOL/ESL programs and self-concept.

School Attitude (School Attitude Inventory)

1. There was no significant difference between the treatment and control groups in

regard to students' attitudes toward school.

2. There was no significant interaction among gender, age-level and level of years in

ESOL/ESL programs and attitudes toward school.

Academic Success (Structured Interview)

1. Four children in the experimental group indicated their ESOL/ESL teacher

assisted them with their schoolwork, as compared with no children in the control

group indicating the assistance of their ESOL/ESL teacher.

2. Seven children in the experimental group provided detailed responses about their

feelings, as compared to none in the control group.

3. All children (n = 24) provided similar responses about improved grades since the

beginning of the term.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a solution-

focused, small group counseling intervention on the self-concept, attitude toward school

and the perceived school success of limited-English proficient, Hispanic American/Latino

children. Fifty-nine Hispanic American/Latino children in the third, fourth, and fifth

grades participated in the study. Each was enrolled in an English-Speakers-of-Other-

Languages/English-as-a-Second-Language (ESOL/ESL) program in four different public

elementary schools in Indiana. The participants were randomly assigned to control and

treatment groups. For the purposes of data analyses, the eight (4 control and 4

experimental) groups were consolidated into one control group (n = 31) and one

treatment group (n = 28).

Two school counseling interns who were enrolled in a graduate-level school

counseling program in a counselor education department administered the 6-week

treatment. The main focus of the small group intervention was to assist the children to

have better understanding of their self-concepts, to develop positive attitudes toward

school, and establish strategies for attaining overall school success. Other activities and

discussions during the small group experience were intended to teach the children

effective ways of communicating their feelings about school, how their attitudes toward

school impacted their academic success, what it meant to be limited-English proficient,

and how they felt about being bilingual in a public school setting (see Appendix E).

Students participating in the treatment were compared with those in the control

group on three dependent variables: (a) self concept, (b) school attitude, and (c) overall

school success. The students' self-concepts and attitudes toward school were pre- and

post-measured using the Piers-Harris Children Self-Concept Scale (PHCSCS) and the

School Attitude Inventory (SAI), respectively.

Examination of the participants' self-perceived school success also was addressed

through use of a three-item questionnaire administered to randomly selected participants

from both the experimental and control group members. The interviews were conducted

at the conclusion of the 6-week treatment period and occurred during the latter part of the

fall semester. Of the 59 children who participated in the study, 24 (12 from the control

group and 12 from the treatment group) were individually interviewed. Participants'

responses to the three questions were transcribed and examined for common themes. A

Key-Words-in-Context analysis (KWIC) (Ryan & Bernard, 2000) was used to determine

if the treatment conditions affected treatment participants' overall perceived school

success as compared to that of the control group participants. Gilgun, Daly and Handel

(1992) indicated that KWIC analyses could be effectively used to determine if significant

similarities and difference are present in qualitative results from an interview.


The results of data analyses indicated that the small group treatment had no

significant differential effect on the participants' self-concepts. The differences between

the pre- and post PHCSCS scores, using ANCOVA, were not found to be statistically

significant. In addition, no significant interactions for treatment by gender, age, or

amount of time participants spent in ESOL/ESL programs were found when the treatment

and control group participants' PHCSCS pre-post scores were compared. Therefore it is

concluded that study participants' gender, age and time in ESOL/ESL programs, whether

members of the experimental or control groups, had no influence on their self-concepts.

Scores for the six subscales of the PHCSCS also were not significantly affected

by treatment. Thus, the small group treatment did not significantly impact the

experimental participants' happiness, intellectual status, anxiety, popularity, physical

appearance, or behavior as compared to students in the control group.

The ANCOVA on student responses on the SAI indicated no statistically

significant interactions between treatment and attitudes toward school. Therefore, the

intervention had no significant effect on the experimental group participants' attitudes

toward school as compared to their control group peers.

There also were no statistically significant interactions for treatment by gender,

age, or amount of time spent in ESOL/ESL programs in regards to participants' attitudes

toward school. Therefore, the participants' results were not influenced by gender, age, or

how many years they had been enrolled in an ESOL/ESL program.

Pre- and post-measure data analyses concerning happiness, stress, and self-control

subscales of the SAI did not significantly differ as a result of treatment. Children in the

treatment group did not report feeling significantly differently than children in the control

group in regards to their happiness, stress and self-control at school.

The KWIC analysis results from the 24 post-treatment interviews did yield

several differences in the responses of the children in the control group versus those who

had participated in the 6-week-long treatment.


The children in the treatment groups spent 6 weeks in the counseling groups and

were provided with specific opportunities to assist them to learn and practice techniques

intended to improve their self-concept and attitudes toward school. Interestingly, other

researchers (Arrendondo, 1996; McFadden, 1999) have alluded to the importance of age

and time spent in ESOL/ESL classes as being related to having an impact on the

participants' self-concepts and attitudes toward school. Thus, the lack of significant

difference between the control group and the treatment group on these variables was an

unexpected finding.

Because both the PHCSCS and SAI have separate subscales, a secondary purpose

of this study was to determine if there were differences between the control and treatment

group children's scores on the subscales. Again, the children in the treatment group did

not significantly differ from children in the control group for any of these subscales.

As shown in Chapter 4, participants had an "above average" self-concept mean,

both pre- and post-treatment, when compared to the PHCSCS normative data. According

to Piers (1984), the average score for the PHCSCS rages between the 31 st and 70th

percentile. The mean pre- and post-test PHCSCS scores for the participants in this study

were eight and nine points higher, respectively, than the mean score for the normative

population. This finding places the participants, as a group, at approximately the 60th

percentile pre and post treatment on the PHCSCS. The difference between the post-

treatment mean PHCSCS score for the treatment and control group was small and not

significant, which might be attributable to the fact that both groups' means were

relatively high initially.

Unlike the PHCSCS, the SAI is not a norm-referenced test (Cuthbert, 1987) and

normative data do not exist for it. For this sample, the mean score on the pre-measures of

the SAI was 130.95 and the average post-measure score was 131.75. According to

Cuthbert, these scores may be classified as "positive attitudes" toward school. Again,

there was no significant change in students' attitudes toward school following treatment

possibly because the participants' attitudes were favorable initially.

In searching for explanations for the findings, several questions can be raised. For

example, were the instruments and/or the intervention appropriate for LEP, Hispanic

American/Latino children? Were the group facilitators, two Caucasian women who did

not speak Spanish, appropriate for this study and were they culturally responsive? Did

their ethnicity and inability to speak Spanish somehow hinder their ability to translate a

particular concept or establish rapport with the children in the experimental group?

Finally, was the intervention not lengthy or intensive enough to yield measurable

differences between the treatment and control group? Further research is needed to

provide answers to these and related questions.

The only evidence of treatment effect on the experimental group participants was

found in the qualitative data gathered, which was administered by the researcher without

prior knowledge of whether the respondents were in the control group or the treatment

group. The KWIC analysis of the qualitative questionnaire points in regard to the

prevalence of expressive and feeling-focused language in the responses treatment group

children revealed some (subjective) effects. These children elaborated and verbalized

their feelings more regarding their school success than did control group. In point of fact,

none of the 12 children interviewed from the control group responded to the qualitative

questions by expressing their feelings about school. A focused discussion of the

children's feelings about school success was one of the major components of the small

group treatment process. Thus, it was not surprising to find they expressed their feelings

about school more readily.

Examples of how children in the treatment group responded to how happy they

felt about school success included, "I am really happy because I'm getting better grades

since (sic) last year," and "I'm very happy because I have a good teacher and good

friends." Examples of responses from children in the control group include, "I feel fine,"

or "I feel good," and "I'm kind of happy." These findings coincide with those of Corey

(2000) who suggested that the benefits derived from participating in a small group

counseling experience include the enhanced ability to be expressive and to better

communicate feelings.

The small group experience also appears to have contributed to the experimental

children being able to express personal awareness of the teacher's role in their overall

school success. Several treatment group children highlighted the positive influence that

their ESOL/ESL teachers had on them since the beginning of the school year. For

example, one of the boys in the treatment group responded to "who" or "what" has

helped with schoolwork the most by saying, "Mrs. ____ has helped me learn

English." Another boy answered, "Mrs. ____ knows Spanish and helps me with school

work." Finally, a third grade girl said, "Mrs. ____ my special teacher, has helped me

do better in reading and writing." Again, these are important findings in that positive

feelings being expressed toward participants' ESOL/ESL teachers likely would translate

to positive performance in the classroom. Researchers (Samway & McKeon, 1999) have

shown that LEP students enrolled in schools where their ESOL/ESL teachers are

perceived as positive role models is a factor that contributes positively to the overall

success of those children. These same researchers concluded that when ESOL/ESL

teachers are viewed by their students as being positive and as constant and fundamental

parts of their learning experiences, the children are much more likely to achieve


These findings may be due, in part, to the fact that during the small group

counseling process, considerable time was spent discussing the meaning of being

bilingual and ethnically different. In addition, the group facilitators discussed what it

meant to be enrolled in an ESOL/ESL program and what and how the situation affects

feelings about school. It is clear that some children in the treatment group internalized

certain lessons or topics from the small group intervention, leading them to provide more

positive responses to the qualitative questionnaire than those offered by children in the

control group.

Hispanic American/Latino children being able to express and verbalize their

feelings regarding school is an immeasurable, positive ability and one that contributes to

their overall school success. Thus, these findings add some credence to the value of using

small group counseling as an intervention with ESOL/ESL-enrolled Hispanic

American/Latino, elementary school aged children.


In considering the results of this study, several limitations should be taken into

account. First, the length of the treatment may have been a limitation. Six approximately

40-minute sessions spread over 6 weeks is common in this type of research and has been

considered an effective format for conducting a small group guidance interventions with

children (Myrick, 1997; Wittmer, 2000). However, these Hispanic American/Latino,

bilingual children may have benefited more from a lengthier intervention, especially as it

relates to change in self-concept. Given the language limitation of many of the students

participating in this study, having been provided more time to familiarize themselves

with more of the terminology and procedures used may have yielded more significant,

positive effects on their self-concepts and attitudes toward school.

The location of the study may limit the generalization of these findings. Indiana's

population is 3.5% Hispanic American/Latino, compared with 12.5% for the entire U.S.

In addition, many states have a greater population of Hispanic American/Latino residents

than does Indiana. For example, California has 32.4%, Florida 16.8%, Illinois 12.3%,

New York 16.8%, and Texas 32.0% (U.S. Census, 2001). This situation may have an

impact on how children in schools and/or communities with a small population of

Hispanic American/Latinos feel about themselves and their school when compared to

children in schools and/or communities with larger numbers of Hispanic

American/Latino students.

Another limitation may have been the group facilitators' lack of work-related

experiences. Both facilitators were school counseling graduate students in their final

internship experience. Although both had previous experience in public schools (i.e.,

teaching, practicum, and temporary school counselor status), neither had been previously

employed as a full-time school counselor. Also, the children may have been confused by

the presence of the "outside-the-school" interns conducting their small groups. In

addition, both of the school counseling interns who facilitated the small groups were

female Caucasians and their ethnicity and gender may have been a limitation of the study.

None of the six small group counseling sessions were designed to focus

specifically on particular subscales of either the PHCSCS or the SAI, which may have

accounted for the lack of significant interactions or differences for these variables

between treatment and control group members.

The particular public schools where the study was conducted also may have been

a limitation. Public school settings are prone to various factors that affect children's self-

concepts, attitudes toward school, and overall school success (Webb, 1999). In addition,

it is not known what role the Hispanic American/Latino parents may have played in these


A final limitation is the fact that the four school principals volunteered to have

their schools participate in the study. Randomization of all possible schools and

participants might have resulted in different results.


There is a relative paucity of research about counseling Hispanic American/Latino

children, whether in small groups or individually. Even narrower in scope is the research

about counseling LEP students from native Spanish-speaking homes. This research study

therefore has contributed to the professional research even though significant differences

were not found between the control and treatment groups on quantitative measures.

The value of using small group counseling with young Hispanic American/Latino

children remains potentially positive and could be used effectively to help these children

to understand their roles as minorities in their school, practice study skills, and develop

other skills (Myrick, 1997). As demonstrated in the responses to the questionnaire,

Hispanic American/Latino students taking part in a small group counseling activity will

at least benefit from increased self-expression and greater awareness of the educators

who are instrumental to their attaining school success.

A small group guidance intervention specifically designed for LEP, Hispanic

American/Latino students in ESOL/ESL programs also remains an appropriate forum to

discuss issues and concerns specific to these children. Small group counseling

interventions are proven methods to enrich the academic and psychosocial environments

of elementary school children of any race or ethnicity (Gopaul-McNicol & Thomas-

Presswood, 1998; Myrick, 1997; Thompson & Rudolph, 2000). The qualitative findings

also support the use of a solution-focused small group counseling approach as a method

to assist these type of children to better understand the part their ESOL/ESL teachers play

in them attaining academic success.

Finally, the group facilitators training workshop developed for use in this study

(Appendix B) may be of benefit for practicing school counselors, teachers, school

counseling students in training, counselor educators, and other educators. Mental health

practitioners working with LEP Hispanic American/Latino students can apply the

information in the workshop effectively to their specific work settings. With the size of

the bilingual Hispanic American/Latino school population increasing, school counselors

need to understand the intricacies of how LEP children learn as well as effective

strategies for ensuring their positive psychosocial.

Recommendations for Further Study

A similar study could be conducted with Hispanic American/Latino, LEP children

to include an extended intervention time. An increase in the number of small group

sessions, perhaps two to four additional sessions, might provide the time necessary to

discuss the topics and themes more adequately and also allow more time for practice of

the school success skills. Potentially, this would add to the efficacy of the intervention.

It is also recommended that this study be replicated using experienced, practicing

school counselors (i.e., employed full-time in the particular elementary school where the

LEP, Hispanic American/Latino children are enrolled). Having a familiar person as

leader of the small group experience seemingly would be important to the children and

might yield quantitative results. It is also recommended that the study be replicated using

a combination of Hispanic and Caucasian school counselors, perhaps comparing the

effectiveness of each as well as comparing the effectiveness of male and female group


A similar study should be conducted to compare the differences between

conducting the small group counseling intervention in Spanish and English. Even though

most LEP children in the U.S. receive some ESOL/ESL education, and are therefore

familiar with the English language, it would be beneficial to measure their reaction to

counseling interventions provided in their native language.

Another promising investigation would be to explore the differences in self-

concept, attitudes toward school, and school success of Hispanic American/Latino, LEP
children enrolled in private schools versus those attending public schools.

This study also should be replicated with Hispanic American/Latino middle

school students. Older children would, most likely, have a better grasp of the English

language and would thus have more experience and understanding of topics discussed

during the small group meetings.

Researchers (Lee, 1995; Schmidt, 1999) report that changes in self-concept may

take more time to manifest than six weeks. Hence, future researchers also should review

the change in self-concept of participants at the conclusion of the treatment period, as

well as at the end of the school year. It also would have been interesting to compare the

year-end grades and standardized achievement scores of children in the treatment group

with children in the control group.

Finally, it is recommended that the training workshop designed for this study be

provided to other school counselors and counselor educators. The information presented

in the workshop has been thoroughly researched and provides a synopsis of literature on

working with LEP, Hispanic American/Latino children in ESOL/ESL programs. The

facilitators training workshop also highlights effective ways of assisting these LEP,

special needs children that would be of benefit to practicing all practicing school



The goals for conducting this research study were to assist the social, emotional

and academic development of LEP Hispanic American/Latino children in elementary

school via a small group counseling intervention. And, related literature clearly indicated

that such treatment would be beneficial for these children. For this reason, a specially

designed small group counseling treatment was developed and administered.

Unfortunately, the quantitative results were insignificant.

Although the summative quantitative analysis yielded no significant differences

between those children who received the treatment versus those who did not, several

differences between groups were witnessed in how children viewed their academic

success. Regardless of quantitative findings, however, the fact remains that more, newer

research is needed in the area of counseling Hispanic American/Latino children and

adolescents. This study provides a beginning to such research and enriches the current

counseling literature. Hopefully this study will also provide the impetus to future

researchers to work to discover new and innovative methods to assist Hispanic

American/Latino children to better succeed in their school environment.


Department of Counselor Education
PO Box 117046 University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 36211

Dear Parent/Guardian,

My name is Jose Villalba and I am a doctoral student at the University of Florida, conducting
research on school counseling with Hispanic American/Latino, limited-English (LEP) proficient students
under the supervision of Dr. Joe Wittmer. The purpose of this study is to compare the perceptions of
Hispanic American/Latino LEP students enrolled in English as Second Languages (ESL) program in 3rd, 4th
and 5th grades who take part in a small-group counseling intervention, with LEP students in ESL programs
who do not participate in the intervention. The results of the study may better help school counselors
understand the types of interventions that can help Hispanic American/Latino LEP students become better
adjusted to the school environment and ESL program. Each group will be lead by a group facilitator.
If you should decide to allow your child to participate in this study, please be advised of the
Half of the students who participate will be randomly selected to take part in the small group
counseling intervention. This will take six weeks, and the group will meet once a week for a
30-40 minute session. The group facilitator and your son/daughter's principal will determine
the group meeting-time and how to make up missed class work and assignments. The
sessions will feature activities and discussions that focus on helping students learn more
about their feelings, self-concept, attitude towards school and academic success.
The other half of the students not receiving the intervention will maintain their regular school
routine, helping to determine the effectiveness of the small-group counseling intervention.
All participating students, even those not selected to take part in the counseling intervention,
will be asked to complete two instruments about their attitude towards school and their self-
concept if they agree. This will require about 30 minutes of their time prior to the beginning
of the intervention and again at the conclusion of the intervention, about 8 weeks later.
The group facilitator will read the instruments to students at a time she/he has arranged with
the teacher. The students will not have to mark or answer any items they do not want to.
In addition, the principal researcher for this study will randomly select a few students from
each school (40% students from each school) and ask them three open-ended questions as
part of an interview to see how they perceive their academic success.
Although the children will be asked to write their names on a checklist for matching
purposes, their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. We will
replace their names with code numbers. Results will only be reported in the form of group
data and will be available upon request after January 2002.
Participation or non-participation in this study will not affect the children's grades or
placement in any programs.
You and your child have the right to withdraw consent at any time without consequence.
Please contact your child's school principal, _______, if you have any
questions. I am also available to answer any questions you may have regarding the research study. My
telephone number and that of my supervisor are provided below. Concerns or questions about the research
participants rights can be directed to the University of Florida-Instructional Review Board (UFIRB) Office,
PO Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; phone (352) 392-0433.
If you are satisfied with the information provided and are willing to have your child participate in
this research study, please sign the Parent/Guardian Consent below and return it to your child's school


Jose' Villalba, Ed. S. Joe Wittmer, Ph.D.
Researcher, (812) 237-8440 Professor, University of Florida, (352) 392-0731


Department of Counselor Education
PO Box 117046 University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
Estimado Padre/Guardian,

Mi nombre es Jose Villalba y soy un estudiante para doctorado en la Universidad de la Florida,
dirijiendo un studio sobre ia consejeria escolar con estudiantes Hispano Americanos/Latinos, con
proficiencia limitada con el Ingles, bajo la supervision de el Dr. Joe Wittmer. El proposito de este studio
es comparar las percepciones de ninos Hispano Americanos/Latinos matriculados en programs para el
aprendisaje de Ingles (llamado ESL en el colegio de su hijo/hija) en el tercero, cuarto o quinto grado que
participaran en un grupo pequeno de consejeria, con otros ninos en classes ESL/ESOL que no participaran
en el grupo. Los resultados de este studio seran usados para ayudar a que los consejeros escolares
entiendan que tipo de asistencia necesitan estudiantes Hispano Americanos/Latinos, para que estos ninos
puedan acostumbrarse mejor a el medioambiente escolar y los programs de ESL. Tomen en cuenta que un
adulto entrenado en consegeria sera la perosona administrando el studio en su colegio.
Si usted decide permitir la participation de su hijo/hija en este studio, por favor tomen en cuenta
los detalles que siguen:
De los ninos que participaran en el studio. la mitad seran escojido para tomar parte en el
grupo de consejeria. La experiencia en el grupo tomara sies semanas, y el grupo se va a reunir
una vez a la semana por 30-40 minutes. El lider de el grupo y el administrator principal ) de su
hijo/hija determinaran el horario y dia semanal, mas otros detalles. Los topicos de discucion
seran el auto-estima personal, expression de sentimientos, actitude escolar y logros
academics, y seran discutidos en forma de actividad y discuciones entire el grupo.
La otra mitad de el grupo de estudiantes no sera parte de el grupo inicialmente. Ellos
mantendran su rutina escolar normal, y ayudano a determinar la efectividad de el grupo.
A todos los ninos, hasta los que no seran panrte de el grupo de consejeria, se les pedira que
tomen dos cuestionarios sobre sus actitudes con respect al colegio y su auto-estima,
solamente si ellos quieren responder. Los questionarios tomaran 30 minutes de su tiempo, y
seran adiministrados una semana antes de empesar en grupo, y 8 semanas despues.
El lider de el grupo leera los cuestionarios a los estudiantes durante un tiempo determindo por
el y la maestra de su hijo/hija. Los ninos no tienen que responder las preguantas que no
En adicion, yo como investigator principal voy a escoger a unos estudiantes de cada escuela
(40% de estudiantes por escuela) y les voy a hacer tres preguntas de discucion como parte de
una entrevista para determinar opinions sobre logros academics.
Aunque a los ninos se les pedira que escriban sus nombres en una lista con el proposito de
determinar quien respondio a cual cuestionario y en que colegio esta, sus identidades seran
mantenidas legalmente confidenciales. Resultados de este proyecto seran reportado solamente
en forma de el grupo complete y estaran listas despues de Enero 2002.
Sus decision de dejar o no dejar que su hijo/hija participe en este studio no afectara sus
calificaciones o participation en programs.
Usted y su hijo/hija tiene el derecho de terminar el proyecto cuando quiera sin consecuencia.
Por favor comuniquese con el administrator (principal) de su hijo/hija,
-----------, si tiene cualquier pregunta. Yo tambien estoy disponible a responder
cualquier pregunta que usted tenga con respect a mi studio. Mi numero de telefono y el de mi supervisor
estan escrito abajo. Preguntas sobre los derechos de los participants pueden ser dirigidas a The University
of Florida-Instructional Review Board (UFIRB) Office, PO Box 112250, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 3261 1, telefono (352) 392-0433.
Si ustedes estan satisfechos con esta information, y desean permitir que su hijo/hija participe en
este studio, por favor firme la forma de permiso en la proxima pagina y devuelvala a el consejor escolar.
Muchas Gracias,

Jose' Villalba, Ed. S. Joe Wittmer, Ph. D.
Investigador principal, (812) 237-8440 Professor, University of Florida, (352) 392-0731

Please return this form to the school counselor/ Por favor de vuelva esta forma a el conseiero escolar

I have read the procedure described in the previous page. I voluntarily give consent for my child,
_________ to participate in Jose Villalba's (Ed.S.) study, and I have received a copy of this

Yo he leido el process descrito en la pagina anterior detalladamente. Yo voluntariamente doy permiso para
que mi hijo/hija, ________, participe en el studio de Jose Villalba (Ed.S.), y yo he
recibido un copia de la description de el proyecto.

Parent-Guardian/Padre-Guardian Date


2nd Parent-Guardian/2d Padre-Guardian

Assent Script for All Hispanic American/Latino LEP, ESL Students
(Third, Fourth and Fifth Grades)

The following statement is to be read aloud to all students prior to administering the pre-
and post-test instruments. The name of each group facilitator will go in the blank space.


My name is _______. I am helping a University of Florida
student, Jose Villalba, who is also teacher at Indiana State University, gather
information about the way Hispanic American/Latino students your age feel about
themselves and school. I would like to ask you to complete two checklist forms with
me today, and two again at a later time. I will read them to you. Only myself and
Mr. Villalba will see your individual answers.

I already received permission from your parents to see you today. If you do
choose to take part in the test but feel like you don't want to answer a certain
questions, you may stop at any time.

Would you like to do this?

Assent Script for Hispanic American/Latino LEP, ESL Students
Randomly Selected for Small Group Counseling
(Third, Fourth and Fifth Grades)

The following statement is to be read aloud to all students selected to participate in the
small group counseling intervention. The name of each group facilitator will go in the
blank space.


My name is _______. I am helping a University of Florida
student, Jose Villalba, who is also teacher at Indiana State University, try out some
ways school counselors can help Hispanic American/Latino students become more
comfortable with school. Once each week for the next six weeks, I will be meeting
with a group of students for discussions and activities that have to do with being
happy and successful at school. You will have the opportunity to take part in these
groups if you would like to.

I already received permission from your parents to see you today. If you do
choose to take part, you may stop at any time.

Would you like to be part of the group?

Assent Script for Hispanic American/Latino LEP, ESL Students
Randomly Selected for the Three-Question, Structured Interview
(Third, Fourth and Fifth Grades)

The following statement is to be read aloud to students selected to participate in the
structured interview with the researcher.


My name is Jose Villalba. I am a University of Florida student, as well as a
teacher at Indiana State University. First of all, let me thank you for meeting with
me today and helping me by answering the checklist forms with your school
counselor. As you already know by now, I am trying to find some ways school
counselors can better help Hispanic American/Latino students become more
comfortable with school. This last part of my study requires me to ask you three
questions about school.

I already received permission from your parents to see you today. If you do
choose to take part, you may stop at any time.

Would you like to answer my three questions?