Using YouScience in High School Group Career Counseling
By Jill S. Minor, Kimberly Farley-Smith and Huma Bashir
Preparing all high school students for postsecondary education and training is an educational priority and school counselors play a crucial role in promoting college and career advising (Paolini, 2019). It is vital for school counselors to employ evidence-based career counseling interventions to support students’ needs by infusing best practices into the work of college and career readiness, connecting students' experiences to future aspirations, boosting academic motivation, and guiding them toward a purposeful life beyond secondary education (Fitzpatrick & Costantini, 2022; Sanders et al., 2017). One of the many strategies in delivering a schoolwide core curriculum with students is through group work. School counselors facilitate short-term groups as part of their ethical practice to address an array of student, school, and community needs (ASCA, 2022). Utilizing an aptitude assessment tool, such as YouScience, can better enhance small group career counseling and better inform students’ postsecondary choices and transitions.
YouScience is an evidence-based, aptitude assessment tool enhancing and informing the career counseling process by supporting students in making knowledgeable career choices (McCloy et al., 2020). More specifically, the YouScience assessment tool measures students’ natural aptitudes and allows students to discover their aptitudes, thereby empowering students’ decision-making process to plan a path to- and post-graduation (YouScience, n.d.). Aptitudes include a “predisposition to be able to learn skills and be proficient in specific areas such as language, mathematics, spatial relations, and mechanical reasoning” (Amundson et al., 2014, p.36). The YouScience assessment tool also provides data on an individual's personal interests and preferences. Using the data gleaned from the YouScience assessment, high school counselors can strategically deliver more intentional career counseling services and generate more strategic conversations about career choice.
Using YouScience in Group Career Counseling
In career counseling, school counselors play a pivotal role in facilitating short-term groups rooted in evidence-based practices addressing academic, career, and social/emotional development (ASCA, 2019). The focus of career counseling groups extends to key areas resonating with the shared needs of group members which encompass educational goals, college access, choosing a college major, career decision-making, and employability skills. The career group counseling activities tend to be more structured, with a teaching and leading component provided by the group leader, and members typically meet for three to seven sessions (Barclay & Stolz, 2016; Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2022; Pyle & Hayden, 2015). Before embarking on the journey of career counseling groups, it is ethical practice to assess student needs to determine if participating in the group is suitable for the student (ASCA, 2022). This critical step serves as a platform to set expectations, establish goals and objectives, address any questions or concerns (Corey et al., 2018), evaluate developmental issues and cultural considerations (Gladding, 2020) and to assess ability to complete the YouScience assessment.
The integration of YouScience establishes a framework for counseling career groups, providing both structure and evidence-based approaches to guide students in their academic and career journey. By aligning with the established best practices and ethical standards, YouScience could be used to empower students to make informed decisions regarding their future educational and career paths. School counselors could facilitate as many as four yearly sessions, held once per quarter in one academic year, each lasting approximately 50 minutes, aligning with the recommendations of Niles and Harris-Bowlsbey (2022) and Brown and Ryan Krane (2000).
Evaluating Intervention Effectiveness
When using YouScience in group career counseling, ongoing data collection is an integral part of the process. To document counseling quality, student progress and program effectiveness must be assessed. This involves evaluating participation, mindset and behavior shifts, and outcome data.
- Participation data outlines impacted students, their activities, and intervention sessions (ASCA, 2019). For example, participation data would indicate if all tenth-grade students were engaged in all quarterly small group sessions.
- Mindsets and Behavior data would show progress students made toward attaining the behaviors associated with being a successful student within the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors standard framework (ASCA, 2019). When collecting Mindsets and Behaviors data, many school counselors use pre/post assessment specific to measure the degree of change occurring because of an intervention. Using both a pretest and a posttest for this proposed intervention would help see if the career counseling group met the intended objectives.
- Many school counselors assess and leverage data to enhance their professional practice (ASCA, 2022). Outcome data is defined as “information related to achievement, attendance, and discipline showing how students are measurably different as a result of the school counseling program” (ASCA, 2019, p. 149). Additionally, Hatch et al., (2019) emphasized achievement-related data adds an essential element to the outcome data discussion. Achievement-related data are the types of information determined by professional research contributing to academic achievement (Hatch & Lewis, 2011), such as the number of students with postsecondary plans, the number of students completing career exploration activities, the number of college applications, and/or the number of students using college or career tools.
Future Benefits to Students
YouScience empowers school counselors to assess students’ natural aptitudes enabling them to guide students and families through the post-secondary journey. By utilizing YouScience in group career counseling, school counselors are well-informed and intentional in supporting high school students’ college and career planning. This approach, rooted in helping students understand their aptitudes and their impact on career decisions, remains a cornerstone of the school counseling profession, further enhancing the likelihood of postsecondary success.
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Dr. Jill Minor is an assistant professor and program director of Wright State University’s School Counseling Program in Dayton, OH. Dr. Minor is an accomplished school counselor with over 17 years of experience at all levels K-12. Her research interests include crisis planning and response, teaching effectiveness, and career counseling. Dr. Minor has presented on topics such as school counselors’ role in school culture and climate, leadership, giftedness, and college and career counseling services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimberly Farley-Smith, M.Ed. With a passion for guiding students toward success and a career spanning various educational realms, Kimberly stands as a beacon of empowerment in the field of school counseling and counselor education. Her diverse experiences across states and roles in school counseling, career counseling, and educational administration. Kimberly’s passion for counseling led her to begin a doctoral degree in counselor education. Currently, she is a lecturer at Wright State University. email@example.com
Huma Bashir, Ed.D, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, is a counselor educator and chair of the counseling department at Wright State University in Dayton, OH. She is an experienced counselor who believes in offering compassionate care to her clients who are facing challenges with mental, emotional, and substance abuse problems. She is trained in PTSD, substance abuse, mood and anxiety disorders, and relational issues. firstname.lastname@example.org