Impact of logotherapy on at-risk African American elementary students
Wimberly, Cynthia L.
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a school counseling intervention based on logotherapy, an existential approach, with at-risk African American upper elementary students on students’ search for meaning in life and locus of control as measured by the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) and Nowicki Strickland Locus of Control Scale (NSLOC). Change in students' task orientation, behavior control, assertiveness, and peer social skills as perceived by the homeroom teacher was measured by the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (T-CRS). The sample consisted of 59 at-risk African American 5th and 6th grade students enrolled in a public elementary school in a mid-sized city in the southern United States. Specifically, there were 23 males and 36 females. Classes were randomly selected for the control and treatment groups. Both groups were administered pre- and posttests. The treatment group received an eight week guidance unit delivered by the school counselor. The unit was based on the tenets of logotherapy (e.g. meaning exists under all circumstances, all persons have the innate desire to find meaning, and all persons have the capacity to find meaning). Teachers (three African American and two white) completed the T-CRS as a pre- and posttest for the control group and treatment group. A Multivariate Analysis of Covariance (MANCOVA) was used to examine the difference between the two groups for Purpose in Life Test (PIL) and Nowicki Strickland Locus of Control Scale (NSLOC). The results of the statistical analysis indicated significance in change scores on the PIL for meaning in life and in scores on the NSLOC for locus of control. While the students in the treatment group showed positive growth in meaning in life and internal locus of control, the control group regressed in meaning in life and internal locus of control during the eight week period. All hypotheses were tested at the .05 level of significance. A Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was calculated to determine significance for the teachers’ perceptions as measured by the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (T-CRS). Significance was not found for any of the four constructs (i.e. task orientation, behavior control, assertiveness, or peer social skills) as measured by teachers’ perceptions on the T-CRS. All hypotheses were tested at the .05 level of significance. Although not statistically significant, an interesting phenomenon occurred in that the control group that did not receive any intervention regressed. The treatment group, which scored lower in every area on the pretest, either showed improvement in each of the subtests or remained stable following the eight week intervention. These results corroborate existing research that supports the effectiveness of classroom guidance lessons as an intervention for at-risk students’ meaning in life, locus of control, and classroom behaviors. This study provides a practical avenue for the utilization of data in school counseling programs. In addition, this study provides a blueprint for one type of guidance units, for the use of data to support guidance lessons, and for school counseling programs that address the issues of accountability and strategic interventions to address the needs of a specific population. Recommendations for future research included: the inclusion of additional academic achievement data and replication of this study in a nonschool setting.