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DLSU RP 1998-04: The Effect of Solution-Focused Brief Counseling on Academic Success of College Underachievers

The present study was undertaken to explore the possibility of using a counseling approach which could effectively improve students’ school performance. The use of solution-focused brief counseling was chosen because it is often cited as a powerful means of assisting counselors with heavy case leads (Littrell, Malia & Vanderwood, 1995) and its effectiveness on improving the academic performance of students (Santa. Rita, 1995). This study tried to determine the effect of a 4-session solution-focused brief counseling on academic success (as measured by accumulated grade-point average and accumulated number of units failed) of sophomore university underachievers. The results of this study could lay down the ground work for school, university and college policy makers in support of a school or university/college-mandated solution-focused brief counseling for academically at-risk students and to initiate among guidance counselors and teachers a paradigm shift from a deficit-based perspective of underachievement to existing competencies and resources for adaptive and future-oriented solutions. The pretest-posttest control research design was used in the study. The treatment group received the 4-session solution-focused brief counseling (SFBC) while the control group underwent client-centered counseling (CC). Twenty-four sophomores were randomly selected from the College of Liberal Arts and College of Science. To ensure homogeneity of participants the following selection criteria were used: accumulated GPA of 1.5 to 1.75 and 9 to 12 accumulated units of failure as of 3rd trimester of SY 1997-1998. The treatment clients were asked to answer an open-ended question in their logbook every after session: “List down helpful moments in your session and how these moments helped you”. There were four (4) counselors, two from each college who signified interest in the study. Two were master’s degree holders in guidance and counseling and other two were master’s degree candidates in guidance and counseling. All of them have counseling experiences between five to ten years. They were trained by the researcher on the 4-session solution-focused brief counseling and were given orientation on the details of the research methods and problems before they provided counseling sessions to participants. The researcher evaluated the audiotaped 40-60 counseling sessions in terms of fidelity to the 4-sessions of SFBC and to ensure the use of standardized/uniform counseling procedures for treatment and control groups. The researcher also analyzed the logbook entries of treatment clients to determine the therapeutic elements in the process of SFBC. The results of the present study indicated that the 4-session solution-focused brief counseling given to sophomore underachievers did not affect significantly their academic performance (as measured by the accumulated GPAs and number of units failed. However, the specific helpful moments experienced by the treatment clients strongly suggested that they were significantly helped by the 4-session solution-focused brief counseling in identifying their problems and their causes and in specifying goals and activities to solve these problems. The results further showed that the following cluster of counseling moments were found helpful by the treatment clients: a) gaining knowledge; b) new perspective; c) emotional relief; d) counselor’s interventions; e) client self-disclosure; f) client resolutions. Despite its limitation, the present study illustrates the importance of assessing outcomes of services offered to clients as part of the university/college guidance and counseling center’s program evaluation.

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