Preparedness of student affairs professionals : the difference between a council for accreditation of counseling and other related educational programs accredited and council for the achievement of standards- best practice guided academic preparation programs
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A complicated relationship exists among several variables related to entry-level student affairs professionals' preparedness for their first positions in the field of student affairs. In order to better understand the academic preparation of and the unusually high levels of attrition for entry-level student affairs professionals, their influence on job satisfaction and self-efficacy needed to be examined. The purpose of this study was to determine a difference between Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) best practice guided and Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP) accredited academic preparation programs and intentions to leave the profession of student affairs (attrition) based on job satisfaction and self-efficacy of entry-level student affairs professionals. The goal was to determine which combinations of factors (academic program or intention to leave the profession) influenced preparedness (job satisfaction and self-efficacy) and inform multiple stakeholders of ways to address a variety of practices in the field. These could include academic program preparation curriculum, considerations for accreditation, requirements for students choosing an academic program, and employers' minimum educational requirements when reviewing candidates for open entry-level student affairs positions. A quantitative analysis (N=100) was completed using a Two-way Factorial MANOVA design to answer two research questions, 1) when looking at entry-level professionals' scores on job satisfaction and self-efficacy, are there mean differences in preparedness across academic preparation program and intention to leave the profession of student affairs, and 2) do any of these combinations of variables (academic preparation program and intention to leave) produce an interaction. Data were collected from current, full-time, entry-level (0-5 years) student affairs professionals who had earned a master's degree. In addition to collecting a variety of demographic information, two questions independently addressed the independent variables in this study. One asked if participants attended a master's program guided by the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) or a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Other Related Programs (CACREP). The choices provided included CAS, CACREP and Other. The other question asked if at this point in their career, whether they had an intention to leave the profession of student affairs. Participants could answer Yes or No. Data were collected on job satisfaction using the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS) (Spector, 2011) and on self-efficacy using the Work Self-Efficacy inventory (WS-Ei) (Raelin, 2010). Results revealed that there was no main effect for Academic Program on job satisfaction and self-efficacy; however, there was a main effect for Intention to Leave the profession on job satisfaction and self-efficacy. This prompted further post hoc analysis to determine which dependent variable was more influential in the model for the independent variable of Intention to Leave the profession of student affairs. Results revealed that job satisfaction, as expected per the literature, had a higher priority in the model for Intention to Leave than self-efficacy. There was also no effect found regarding an interaction of Academic Program with Intention to Leave the profession of student affairs on the preparedness comprised of the dependent variables of job satisfaction (JSS) and self-efficacy (WS-Ei). This was the first study to compare CAS best practice guided and CACREP-accredited academic preparation programs and attrition based on the complicated issue of preparedness, a composite linear variable based on job satisfaction (JSS) and self-efficacy (WS-Ei) scores. The results and analysis of this study indicate that CACREP should consider discontinuing accreditation for Student Affairs and College Counseling and that CAS guided entry level academic preparation programs should consider further addressing issues that affect job satisfaction in their guidelines.