An evaluation of the information and consultation services in the colleges of education in the Volta region of Ghana

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1 Educational Research (ISSN: ) Vol. 4(9) pp , September, 2013 DOI: Available Copyright 2013 International Research Journals Full Length Research Paper An evaluation of the information and consultation services in the colleges of education in the Volta region of Ghana *1 John Sedofia and 2 Frederick Ocansey * 1 St. Francis College of Education, Hohoe, Ghana. 2 Counselling Centre, University of Cape *Corresponding Authors ABSTRACT The study was conducted to evaluate the information and consultation services in the Colleges of Education in the Volta Region of Ghana. The research design used for the study was the survey approach. A sample size of 400 made up of 317 students, 80 tutors and three counsellors was randomly chosen from three colleges of education in the Volta Region through stratified and purposive sampling. Data was collected with questionnaire and analysed using frequencies and percentages. Results showed that the information and consultation services were not adequately provided in the colleges. It was also revealed that the counsellors were not trained professionally. Among the recommendations made were that counsellors should intensify guidance activities in the colleges so as to make guidance services more attractive and accessible to students. In addition, trained counsellors should be posted to the colleges. Keywords: Guidance and counselling, evaluation, information service, consultation service. INTRODUCTION The complex nature of today s world brought about by scientific and technological advancements has rendered decision-making an ever difficult task for young people (Ocansey, Forde, Awabil and Otopa, 2005). Decisionmaking becomes difficult when the information that is required to make the right decisions is lacking. The information service is therefore one of the services of the school guidance programme that is very important to the student. Ekwe (1991) wrote that the information service of the school guidance programme aims at making data on educational opportunities, personal and career issues available to students to enable them to make choices and decisions that are authentic, reliable and responsible. Ekwe added that for the information service to be effective, information provided for students must not only be meaningful and relevant. It must as well be accurate, complete, timeless, and must contain facts that were hitherto unknown to students or unverified by them. To Schmidt (1999), providing information on a course of study, financial aid, and community resources are some ways in which counsellors can plan and implement the information service. Numale (2003) wrote that the information service generates, codes, stores, retrieves and disseminates information from the environment to people. According to Ekwe (1991), the information service should help to provide students with accurate and reliable information on career, educational, and socialpersonal aspects of their lives. Information is vital for human growth and development, especially in the present age and time. If students can be helped by counsellors to develop to their full potential and take advantage of the opportunities in and around their environment, accurate and timely information can never be left out. Such information may be on educational, vocational or personal/social issues that concern students. Consultation is also one of the important services of the school guidance programme, even though its application to counselling as a mental health activity in schools has been less widely recognised and defined (Gibson and Mitchell, 1990). Consultation is a process for

2 Sedofia and Ocansey 675 helping a client through a third party or a process for helping a system improve its services to its clientele (Gibson and Mitchell, 1990, p. 35). In consultation, the counsellor meets individuals like teachers, school administrators, parents, and curriculum experts with the aim of assisting him/her to overcome certain difficulties he/she may have while performing his or her duties as a counsellor (Shertzer and Stone, 1980). Schmidt (1999) explained that in consulting relationships, one person (usually the counsellor) serves as the consultant who leads the process, while the other person or persons (usually teachers, students, and parents) serve as the consultee(s). Schmidt affirmed that the focus of consultation is a specific need or situation for which information, instruction, or facilitation is requested by a student, parent, or teacher. Myrick (1987) observed that one reason for consulting in respect of students is to discuss various options for helping the child and make a recommendation for helping him find better ways of learning and behaving. To Pecku (1991) consultation helps to create a good atmosphere for children so that they can learn. In consultation, counsellors are enabled to plan better ways of helping students. In a similar vein, consultation helps curriculum planners to develop curricula that are tailored towards the needs of students (Pecku, 1991; Oladele, 2000). According to Faust (1968b), consultation can take place with students, parents, teachers, student services specialists, school administrators and community agency professionals. Thus the school counsellor needs to constantly consult and be consulted in the discharge of his/her duties. The goals here are to: provide requested information, provide solution to a given problem, conduct diagnosis that may redefine a problem, provide recommendations, assist implementation, build consensus and commitments, facilitate client learning, and improve organisational effectiveness (Turner, 1982). In contemporary Ghana, guidance and counselling services are provided not only in the educational institutions (from the basic through to the tertiary level) but also in the community (in the churches, Muslim community, health institutions, and in both government and non-government organisations) (Essuman, 2007). Currently at the tertiary level for example, academic programmes are run in Guidance and Counselling at the University of Cape Coast, University of Ghana, University of Education, Winneba, and the Colleges of Education (Essuman, 2007). Among other things, the school guidance programme is aimed at providing counselling, appraisal, orientation, consultation, placement, information and follow-up services to students (GES as cited in Amenyedzi, 1997). Unfortunately however, the available literature on guidance and counselling in schools in Ghana appear to paint a gloomy picture about the information and consultation services. The Ghana Education Service (GES) observed that the current Guidance and Counselling programmes in schools and colleges in Ghana leave much to be desired. In most schools, there are no systematic Guidance and counselling services (GES, 2003, p.3). Empirical research findings actually corroborate the GES s observations. Ndego (2010) studied the effectiveness of guidance and counselling in selected Senior High Schools in the Tano North District of Brong Ahafo. The study revealed that most of the schools studied did not, as of that time, run guidance services for students. In a study to evaluate how counselling services could be used as an intervention for indiscipline in schools in the Ho Municipality, Fia (2008) found among other things, that none of the schools studied had a counselling centre that was well equipped for effective counselling and that most of the schools lacked trained or professional counsellors. In a similar study, Braimah (2010) assessed guidance and counselling services in Senior High Schools in the Tamale Metropolis and found that the information, appraisal, placement, evaluation, consultation and referral services were inadequately provided. Research findings on guidance and counselling services at the Colleges of Education level appear to be scanty as of now, maybe due to the fact that guidance itself is relatively new in Ghana (Ackom, 1992). Indeed Rønning (1997) discovered that the guidance and student advisory functions in colleges and/or universities were less committed and more randomly operative than in high schools. Mensah (2007) studied the place of guidance and counselling in Colleges of Education in the Eastern Region of Ghana and found that most College of Education students did not benefit from the guidance and counselling programmes, and that some Colleges of Education had no laid down systems and structures that promoted guidance and counselling. Meanwhile, evidence that guidance services do produce benefits will increasingly be demanded, but only through research and evaluation can such evidence be secured (Shertzer and Stone, 1980). Thus, evaluation of the school guidance programme is vital for programme improvement and development. It is through evaluation that data gathered through other services such as testing and inventory are investigated, studied and utilised for the purpose of improving the guidance programme. The main purpose of this study was therefore to evaluate the information and consultation services of the guidance programme in the Colleges of Education in the Volta Region of Ghana. The following research questions were formulated to direct the study: 1. To what extent is the information service being provided in the Colleges of Education?

3 676 Educ. Res. 2. To what extent is the consultation service being provided in the Colleges of Education? METHOD Design The research design used for this study was the survey approach. Survey research involves acquiring information about one or more groups of people perhaps about their characteristics, opinions, attitudes, or previous experiences by asking them questions and tabulating their answers (Leedy and Ormrod, 2005). Survey research has the advantage of making available information on aspects of behaviour that are difficult to observe directly. It also makes it relatively easy to collect data on attitudes and opinions from large samples of subjects (Weiten, 2001). Again, survey research is conducted in its natural settings, and it is flexible and adaptable especially at the initial stages of the investigation. Surveys can also generalize many people by studying a few of them. Population The population for the study was 1,881 made up of 3 counsellors, 102 tutors, and 1,776 students in the St. Francis College of Education (FRANCO), Hohoe; E.P. College of Education (AMECO), Amedzofe; and Peki College of Education (GOVCO). Sample and Sampling Procedure Two sampling techniques namely; stratified sampling and purposive sampling were used to select a total sample of 400 respondents for the study. Stratified sampling technique was employed to select 317 students out of the total student population of 1,776, and 80 tutors out of the total tutor population of 102. These samples were selected based on Krejcie and Morgan s table of Sample Sizes (S) Required for Given Population Sizes (N) (as cited in Sarantakos, 2005). Purposive sampling technique was used to select the three counsellors. Instruments Questionnaire was the main instrument used to collect data. The Ohio Department of Education Evaluation Criteria for Secondary School Guidance Programme which was modified and used by Keteku (1989) and Amenyedzi (1997), and Starr and Gysbers (1997) Sample Guidance Programme Evaluation Surveys were adapted and used for the present study. There were three sets of questionnaire; one set for the guidance coordinators, another for the tutors and the other for the students. The three sets were used for purposes of triangulation. According to O Donoghue and Punch (2003), triangulation is a method of cross-checking data from multiple sources to search for regularities in the research data. Triangulation corroborates evidence from different sources or individuals since the information is not drawn from one single source, individual or process of data collection (Creswell, 2002). The questionnaire was divided into seven sections; A-G for each category of respondents. Section A consisted of four items that sought personal information from respondents while sections B to G solicited the views of respondents on guidance programme including the information and consultation services. There were a total of 48 questions on both the students and counsellors questionnaire while that of tutors consisted of 47 items. Content-related evidence of validity was used to ensure validity of the instrument. The content of the instrument was discussed with three experts in the field of guidance and counselling for scrutiny, review and judgement of its appropriateness. Reliability of the instrument was.92 for the student questionnaire and.97 for the tutor questionnaire and this was estimated using the Cronbach Coefficient Alpha. Procedure for data collection The researchers visited the colleges and personally administered the questionnaire. The questionnaires for students were hand-delivered by the researchers. The selected students were assembled in a lecture hall. After giving them the questionnaire and explaining the purpose of the study to them, they were asked to fill them. The tutors and counsellors also filled their questionnaire and returned them the same day. In the end the students filled and returned 311 (representing 98%) usable questionnaires. The return rate for the tutors questionnaire was 93% while that of the counsellors was 100%. Data Analysis Data were summarised using descriptive statistics from the Statistical Package for Service Solution (SPSS). Frequency and percentage tables were used to organise the data from the questionnaire. The means of the percentages of the responses were computed and used to determine the extent to which the information and consultation services were being provided. To be able to determine the extent to which the information and consultation services were being provided in the colleges, the mean scores of the percentage of responses for Yes, No and Unsure were computed. The following scale was used to interpret the responses that were Yes : a range of 70% - 100% mean indicated that the service was being provided to a large extent, 40% % mean suggested that the service was being provided to some extent and 39.9% and below showed that the service was being provided to a lesser extent.

4 Sedofia and Ocansey 677 Table 1. Students Views on the Information Service The counsellor makes information on educational opportunities available to students. institutions of higher learning. other job opportunities opened to teachers. The counsellor gives information to students on entry requirements into occupations. The counsellor invites professionals to talk to students on different occupations. healthy boy/girlfriend relationships. healthy family relationships Table 2. Tutors Views on the Information Service The counsellor makes information on educational opportunities available to students. institutions of higher learning. job opportunities opened to teachers. The counsellor gives information to students on entry requirements into occupations. The counsellor invites professionals to talk to students on different occupations. healthy boy/girlfriend relationships. healthy family relationships RESULTS Research question one How well is the information service being provided in the colleges? Table 1 gives the opinion of students on the information service. In Table 1, the mean score of the responses for Yes was 23.7% while the mean score of the responses for No was 69.9%. Table 2 shows how tutors saw the information service. Table 2 displays the responses of tutors on the information service. The data gathered from the tutors show that the mean score of the responses for Yes was 39.4% while the mean score of the responses for No was 24.9%. Table 3 displays the counsellors opinion on the information service.

5 678 Educ. Res. Table 3. Counsellors Views on the Information Service The counsellor makes information on educational opportunities available to students. institutions of higher learning. job opportunities opened to teachers. The counsellor gives information to students on entry requirements into occupations. The counsellor invites professionals to talk to students on different occupations. healthy boy/girlfriend relationships. healthy family relationships Table 4. Students Views on the Consultation Service The counsellor meets students parents to discuss issues of concern to students. The counsellor coordinates conferences between students parents and college staff. The counsellor meets college administration to discuss how to improve guidance programme. The counsellor meets college tutors to discuss issues of concern to students. Parents meet the counsellor to discuss Class advisors meet counsellor to discuss Students meet guidance committee to discuss issues of concern to them The data in Table 3 represents the views of counsellors on the information service. The data from the counsellors show that the mean score of the responses for Yes was 95.2%. Research question two To what extent is the consultation service being provided in the colleges of education? Table 4 shows how students saw the consultation service. The results in Table 4 indicate that the mean score of the responses that were Yes was 8.1% while that of No was Table 5 catalogues the views of tutors on the consultation service. The data in Table 5 shows that the mean score of the responses that were Yes was 27.8%, an indication that the consultation was provided to a lesser extent. The majority of the tutors (Mean= 39.4%) however said that they were unsure if consultation took place. Table 6 represents the counsellors perspective on the consultation service. Table 6 shows that most of the counsellors (Mean=85.7%) answered Yes to the questionnaire items. None of them reported that they were unsure.

6 Sedofia and Ocansey 679 Table 5. Views of Tutors on the Consultation Service The counsellor meets students parents to discuss issues of concern to students. The counsellor coordinates conferences between students parents and college staff. The counsellor meets college administration to discuss how to improve guidance programme. The counsellor meets college tutors to discuss issues of concern to students. Parents meet the counsellor to discuss Class advisors meet counsellor to discuss Students meet guidance committee to discuss issues of concern to them Table 6. Views of Counsellors on the Consultation Service The counsellor meets students parents to discuss issues of concern to students. The counsellor coordinates conferences between students parents and college staff. The counsellor meets college administration to discuss how to improve guidance programme. The counsellor meets college tutors to discuss issues of concern to students Parents meet the counsellor to discuss Class advisors meet counsellor to discuss Students meet guidance committee to discuss issues of concern to them DISCUSSION The Information Service In the present study, it was found that the information service was provided to a lesser extent in the Colleges surveyed. For instance, only 32.2% of the students said that information on healthy boyfriend/girlfriend relationships was provided. Similarly, just 28% of the students said that the students were given information on institutions of higher learning. On whether or not counsellors invited professionals from different backgrounds to talk to students on different occupations, only 10.3% of the students answered Yes. Table one therefore shows that the information service was provided to a lesser extent. The data in Table 2 shows that like the students, the tutors believed that the information service was provided only to a lesser extent. That is, it was not adequately provided. This means that the accurate and reliable information that students require on career, educational, and social-personal aspects of their lives that Ekwe (1991) espoused was not disseminated to students. These findings corroborate those of Boafo (2010) and

7 680 Educ. Res. Braimah (2010) which concluded that the information service in general was among the guidance services that were inadequately provided. It further gives credence to the conclusion by Amenyedzi (1997) that the information service needed considerable improvement. The reports by the students and the tutors, however, fail to confirm what was found by Yuksel-Sahin (2009) that the information service was among the top three guidance services that were provided and utilised. Even though the students and tutors believed that even if information was disseminated it was not very effectively done, the counsellors said overwhelmingly (Table 3) that they did their work in the information service excellently. Thus the counsellors claim corroborates Yuksel-Sahin s (2009) conclusion but fails to support that of Boafo (2010) and Braimah (2010). It can be argued that information dissemination activities unlike counselling are usually not done in confidence. It should therefore be possible for tutors to see this being done by the counsellors. But the report by the tutors shows that it was not being done well. This therefore leads to the conclusion that maybe the counsellors did not want to be seen to be ineffective in carrying out their information service duties. It is doubtless that, the complex nature of today s world has rendered decision-making an ever difficult task (Ocansey et al., 2005), but with the right information, decision making can be a much easier task. This fact makes it imperative for counsellors to make the information service even more vibrant in schools. This way, vital, usable and sometimes difficult-to-get information would be made available to students. The Consultation Service The data in Tables 4 and 5 show that in the eyes of the students and tutors, consultation as a guidance service was provided to a lesser extent. That is, the consultation service did not go on very well in the colleges. One striking revelation about the consultation service is that as high as 98.1% of the students reported that their counsellors did not consult parents to discuss any issue of concern to them (students). This finding was supported by 32.4% of the tutors and 33.3% of the counsellors. Also, 36.5% of the tutors reported that the counsellor never met college tutors to discuss issues of concern to students, albeit a majority of the counsellors reported that they carried out their consultation duties. Thus generally, the consultation service of the guidance programme can be said to be ineffective in the colleges surveyed. The results of this study therefore agree with the findings made by Anyimah (1983), Essuman (2007), Braimah (2010), and Ndego (2010). These studies found that the consultation service was not functioning well in the schools studied. Consultation is tripartite in nature and parents form an important part of it (Gibson and Mitchell, 1990; Schmidt, 1999). It is therefore important that the consultation service is strengthened. Gibson and Mitchell (1995) argued that consultation provides students with an opportunity to think through problems and concerns, acquire more knowledge and skill, and become more objective and self-confident. The low level of provision of consultation in the Colleges of Education therefore implies that teacher trainees would most likely miss out on this very important function of consultation suggested by Gibson and Mitchell. CONCLUSION Based on the findings of the study and the discussion that followed, it can be concluded that: 1. Both the information and consultation services were provided to a lesser extent in the colleges surveyed. What this means is that the two services were not very well rendered to the benefit of students. 2. The personnel who work as counsellors in the colleges surveyed are not professionally trained and qualified. Implications for Guidance and Counselling 1. Since the study found that both the information and consultation services were not rendered very well in the colleges, it is recommended that counsellors should publicise the guidance programme very well so that students would constantly be reminded that such services exist in the colleges. In addition, counsellors should explore and employ all strategies including the skill of persuasive invitation to get students to access all guidance services. 2. Based on the finding that the guidance personnel in the colleges were not professionally trained, urgent steps should be taken by the Ministry of Education to ensure that trained and qualified counsellors are posted to the colleges within the shortest possible time. College managements, on their part, should ensure that qualified counsellors are engaged. REFERENCES Ackom PE (1992). Secondary school students perception of guidance coordinators: A study in the Western Region of Ghana. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Cape Coast, Cape Amenyedzi FWK (1997). An evaluation of the guidance programme of senior secondary schools in the Ketu and Keta districts. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Cape Coast, Cape Anyimah TK (1983). An investigation into the guidance programmes in second cycle institutions in Sefwi District. Unpublished undergraduate research project, University of Cape Coast, Cape Boafo JK (2010). Evaluation of guidance and counselling services in senior high schools in Nkwanta South district of the Volta Region.

8 Sedofia and Ocansey 681 Unpublished undergraduate research project, University of Education, Winneba: Ghana. Braimah M (2010). Assessment of guidance and counselling services in senior high schools in Tamale metropolis. Unpublished undergraduate research project, University of Education, Winneba: Ghana. Creswell JW (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating qualitative research. London: Pearson Education Ltd. Essuman JK (2001). A review of educational studies ( ) in guidance and counselling in schools in Ghana. Ghana J. Psychol., 1(1): Essuman JK (2007). Guidance and counselling in contemporary Ghanaian society. J. Couns. Educ. Psychol., 1(2): Ekwe AO (1991). The informational services. In Unachukwu, G. C. and Igborgbor, G. C. (Eds.). Guidance and counselling: A realistic approach (pp ). Oweri: International Universities Press. Evangelical Presbyterian College of Education (AMECO) (2010). Tutor and student registers for the 2010/2011 academic year. AMECO, Amedzofe: Author. Faust V (1968b). The counsellor-consultant in the elementary school. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Fia SD (2008). An evaluation of counselling services as an intervention for school indiscipline in Ho Municipality. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Education, Winneba: Ghana. Ghana Education Service (GES) (2003). Draft national guidance and counselling policy. GES, Accra: Author. Gibson RL, Mitchell MH (1990). Introduction to counselling and guidance. (3 rd ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Gibson RL, Mitchell MH (1995). Introduction to counselling and guidance. (4 th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. Keteku EK (1989). Evaluation of guidance and counselling services in some secondary schools in the Cape Coast and Winneba Districts. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Cape Coast, Cape Leedy DL, Ormrod JE (2005). Practical research: Planning and design. (8 th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Merrill/Prentice Hall. Mensah AE (2007). The place of guidance and counselling in teacher training colleges in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. Myrick R (1987). Developmental guidance and counselling: A practical approach. Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media. Ndego AJ (2010). The effectiveness of guidance and counselling in selected senior high schools in the Tano North District of the Brong Ahafo Region. Unpublished undergraduate research project, University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. Numale MK (2003). Evaluation of guidance and counselling services in the senior secondary schools in Upper West Region of Ghana. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Cape Coast, Cape Ocansey F, Forde LD, Awabil G, Otopa KO (2005). Principles of guidance and counselling. Unpublished document, University of Cape Coast, Cape O'Donoghue T, Punch K (2003). Qualitative educational research in action: Doing and reflecting. Routledge. Oladele JO (2000). Guidance and counselling: A functional approach. Lagos: Johns-Lad Publisher Ltd. Pecku NK (1991). Introduction to guidance for training colleges. (2 nd ed.). Accra: Ghana Universities Press. Peki College of Education (GOVCO) (2010). Tutor and student registers for the 2010/2011 academic year. GOVCO, Peki: Author. Rønning WM (1997). College quality programmes: Implementation and challenges for tertiary education: The World Bank Report. Int. Higher Educ. 28, 7-9. Sarantakos S (2005). Social research (3 rd ed.). Houndmils: Macmillan Press Ltd. Schmidt JJ (1999). Counselling in schools. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Shertzer B, Stone SC (1980). Fundamentals of counselling. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. St. Francis College of Education (FRANCO) (2010). Tutor and student registers for the 2010/2011 academic year. FRANCO, Hohoe: Author. Starr MF, Gysbers NC (1997). Missouri comprehensive guidance: A model for program development, implementation and evaluation (1997 Rev.). Jefferson City: Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Turner AN (1982). Consulting is more than giving advice. Harvard Business Review, 60(5): Weiten W (2001). Psychology: Themes and variations (5 th ed.). USA: Thomson Learning Inc. Yuksel-Sahin F (2009). The evaluation of counselling and guidance services based on teacher views and their prediction based on some variables. Int. J. Instr., 2(1): How to cite this article: Sedofia J and Ocansey F (2013). An evaluation of the information and consultation services in the colleges of education in the Volta region of Ghana. Educ. Res. 4(9):

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