Another way to reinforce teaching is through quizzes and classroom participationg. Quizzes do not only test student knowledge, but also evaluate comprehension, which is a good measure of the job that the counselor educator is doing. Likewise, having students engage in classroom presentations and other peer-to-peer teaching is important because that opens up the opportunity for students to put theory into practice.
Techniques and Methods to Engage Students
Anything that can encourage students to discuss their experience is going to help get students engaged. There are several techniques that teachers can use to encourage that discussion including: assisting students to understand the subject matter by giving them practice in thinking; challenging students to evaluate logic of and evidence for their own and others' positions; giving students opportunities to formulate applications of principles; developing motivation for further learning; helping students articulate what they've learned; and getting prompt feedback on student understanding or misunderstanding (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2011).
One of the most lambasted and dreaded forms of education may be the Socratic method, but, as much as people find the Socratic method uncomfortable, it can actually be a really wonderful way of promoting learning. The Socratic method can allow the class to break a big problem into smaller problems that may be easier to understand and encourage them to engage in cooperative learning (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2011). Moreover, while the method is highly associated with anxiety, much of that anxiety may be due to an underlying lack of preparation rather than anything inherent in the discussion itself.
Finally, it is important not to forget the impact of the traditional lecture. Lectures give professors the opportunities to transmit enthusiasm about a subject. The lecture allows for the explanation of difficult concepts, and gives the professor the opportunity to see how students are responding to the material. Students will not always ask questions when they feel puzzled or challenged by new material, therefore seeing how students are responding to material may be the only way for a teacher to understand their comprehension levels. In fact, an interesting study by Xu and Jaggers demonstrated that first year students performed better in lecture environments than in online teaching environments, demonstrating that presentation style could be critical to information transmission (Xu & Jaggers, 2011). Furthemore, the lecture environment combines visual and audio elements for learners.
Personal Philosophy of Assessing the Needs of Counselors in Training
One of the most difficult parts of counselor training is understanding weaknesses and presenting challenges for learners. The educator must walk a tightrope between providing a thorough background for students and using that background for advanced knowledge. To me, the way that I can assess the needs of counselors in training is to establish and maintain a dialogue with them, and to always allow what I have learned in that dialogue to inform what I know about the students. Tests, projects, and research papers can give me insight into student knowledge, but a student can excel in those areas and still not be well prepared for a career as a counselor. Moreover, students may have difficulty in the coursework component, but be strongly intuitive as a counselor. Therefore, I will engage in both formal and informal evaluation of supervisees. I will provide direct feedback to students, giving them helpful information about their knowledge, processing ability, and performance of the supervisee (Campbell, 2006). Furthermore, I will use tape review and critique, role-play, review of clients, and examination of counseling skills and techniques. I must be able to engage in this type of formal evaluation and so that I can help them become better counselors. Formative evaluations evaluate the student over a period of time, and can be less intimidating for students. These type of evaluations do not critique a single performance, but discuss the overall approach, and are notable for the mentoring opportunities they provide, especially for novice and young intermediate therapists (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2006). Summative evaluations measure outcome-based performance and are not as helpful in the educational context, though they can be useful in later licensure or promotion contexts.
Techniques to Help Students Develop into Effective Counselors
Because counseling is an imperfect science and all counselors are individuals, it is impossible to give a laundry list of those techniques one can use to help students develop into effective counselors. However, it would be impossible to overstate the importance of developing dialogue for the student and teacher. Education is about communication. Counseling is about communication and education. Therefore, the most important thing that a teacher can do to help students develop into effective counselors is to teach them how to communicate. The teachers need to help students understand theory, because the theoretical underpinning is critical. Beyond that, counselors must be able to move from theory to practice. Therefore, having students work in mock or real clinical or practical scenarios is the critical element in developing into an effective counselor.
There is such a tremendous overlap between education and counseling, that discussing how to educate potential counselors one finds many of the same techniques in both counseling and education. Like educators, counselors must use tools for communication and growth and use them to increase dialogue and communication in an effort to enhance problem-solving. The key to education and counseling is dialogue.
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