A CASE STUDY ON SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS RELUCTANCE IN SEEKING COUNSELLING. Mohd Aizat Omar Mohd Shukri Hussin Izzah Farhani Md Khalid ABSTRACT

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1 A CASE STUDY ON SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS RELUCTANCE IN SEEKING COUNSELLING by Mohd Aizat Omar Mohd Shukri Hussin Izzah Farhani Md Khalid ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to investigate secondary school students willingness and reluctance to seek in school. Specifically, the study aimed to determine some of the reasons behind their willingness or reluctance to seek. The study also sought to determine the sources of help that students turn to when solving their problems. The sample for this study consisted of 52 students from two secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur. For this study, a survey questionnaire adapted from a previous study and an interview schedule were used to collect data. The study found that the major reasons why students are willing to seek are because of the ample information they have about their counsellor, their positive perception of the counsellor and their positive attitude towards. The reasons why students are reluctant to seek are because they feel that they are not ready to seek, they prefer to seek help from others and they have little information about the counsellor. The study also found that students tend to turn to their mothers, fathers and close friends when they are faced with problems rather than to the counsellor. INTRODUCTION Today, in the pace and race of becoming a developed nation by the year 2020, Malaysia does not only need intellectuals or technocrats to fulfil the dream, but also wholesome individuals from all aspects of life, be it from the spiritual, emotional, physical or intellectual aspect. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the nation places emphasis on the development of human capital and productivity (Ministry of Education, 2006). In this direction, young Malaysians must be moulded so as to prevent them from being misfits in society. To achieve this, the nation must turn to education as it is the key to the building of a strong nation (Ministry of Education, 2006). In educational institutions such as schools, various programmes have been put in place to ensure that Malaysians will be wholesome from all perspectives as aspired for in the National Education Philosophy. One of the programmes is. The role-statement that describes the role of a school counsellor in Malaysia is noted in Educational Planning & Research Division (2001, p. 50). Counselling is considered a part of school education as it takes place within a school s context (Belkin, 1976, as cited in Taiwo, 1998). Being an integral part of the school environment, provides guidance for students both academically and in their overall development. Academically, can help students to achieve their maximum potentials. In overall development, can play an important role in producing healthy minds and harmonious members of society. According to Taiwo (1998, p.2), school can help to develop young people into integrated and well-adjusted adults later in life. This includes 21

2 dimensions such as dealing with life crisis, academic problems, development and career problems. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM In Malaysia, is also expected to play its role as mentioned above. For the present, emphasis is given to secondary schools. This is not surprising as secondary school students are in their adolescence and as such undergo tremendous stress from academic pressure, cocurricular emphasis and social problems to name but a few. There is thus a need to provide avenues for students to address their problems. One obvious way is through. However, it is generally believed that Malaysian students are reluctant to seek the help of counsellors. Is this the case? And if they are willing to do so, what is their perception of the benefits to be gained from it? If indeed Malaysian students are reluctant to seek, what are the possible reasons for such an attitude? These are issues that were addressed in this study. RESEARCH QUESTIONS This study hopes to answer the following questions: 1. What are some of the reasons of secondary school students willingness to seek? 2. What are some of the reasons of secondary school students reluctance to seek? 3. Whom do secondary school students turn to when seeking help in solving their problems? SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY Mentally healthy students are essential for the success of an educational institution. As these students are to be the citizens of tomorrow, their mental health is also important for the success of the nation. In this respect, findings from the study are significant as they provide valuable information regarding the reasons why students are reluctant or willing to seek. Armed with this knowledge counsellors can amongst others, design strategies to encourage students to seek their help in solving the students problems. In this way, the effectiveness of can be improved and with that it is hoped that Malaysian secondary school students will develop into more wholesome individuals. 22

3 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY This study was limited to two selected secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur. As such, the findings from this study may not be generalised to all secondary school students in Malaysia. DEFINITION OF TERMS Conceptual Definition Willingness: Willingness refers to voluntariness. In this study, students who are willing to seek come under four categories. They are: a) Students who are clients and are willing to seek when they have problems. b) Students referred for by a third party and show willingness. c) Students who are in the process of and have not presented some degree of resistance to. d) Students who use facilities. Reluctance: Reluctance refers to involuntariness. In this study, students who are reluctant to seek are students who do not want to be clients and who are reluctant to seek when they have problems. They are not self-referred and do not want to use facilities when they have problems. Operational Definition Students readiness for was determined through items (a) to (d) in Section A of the instrument as suggested by Tan (1989). If a student chose either statement (a) I have been to see the counsellor and is beneficial to me or (c) I have never been to see the counsellor but think is beneficial to me, the student was considered willing to seek. On the other hand, a student was considered reluctant to seek if he or she chose either statement (b) I have been to see the counsellor but is not beneficial to me or (d) I have never been to see the counsellor and think is not beneficial to me. After having categorized each student as being willing or reluctant, the reasons for the students willingness or reluctance in seeking were then measured by using a yes-no scale. There were 48 items that measured six main factors for students willingness or reluctance in seeking (see Table 1). Each factor was measured by four items (see Table 2). If a student responded yes to at least two items for item numbers 1 to 4, it was determined that the reason for the student s reluctance to seek was his or her attitude towards. On the other hand, if a student responded yes to at least two items for item 23

4 numbers 5 to 8, it was determined that the reason for the student s willingness to seek was his or her attitude towards. Table 1: Factors for students willingness or reluctance in seeking Factor A B C D E F Description of factor Attitude towards school service Amount of information about the school service Student s perception of the counsellor Amount of information about the counsellor Counselling readiness Preference to seek help from others Table 2: Item numbers that evaluate why students seek or do not seek Factor Item numbers that evaluate why students do not seek Item numbers that evaluate why students are willing to seek A 1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7, 8 B 9,10,11,12 13, 14, 15, 16 C 17, 18, 19, 20 21, 22, 23, 24 D 25, 26, 27, 28 29, 30, 31, 32 E 33, 34, 35, 36 37, 38, 39, 40 F 41, 42, 43, 44 45, 46, 47, 48 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Sample The questionnaire was distributed to 52 students from two secondary schools located in Kuala Lumpur. The students from both schools were randomly selected to be the sample of the study from a population of 600 and 950 students respectively. The composition of the sample is as shown in Table 3. 24

5 Table 3: Demographic data of the sample Demographic variable of the sample Percentage (%) Gender Male Female Age % 44.3% 75% 25% Instrument A survey questionnaire adapted from Tan (1989) was used for this study. The questionnaire was validated by a lecturer to ensure that the instrument was appropriate for the purpose of the study. Data Collection Procedures The questionnaire was piloted on a student before it was distributed to the sample. The pilot study indicated that no items needed correction. After the pilot study, the questionnaire was administered to the sample. The responses were then analyzed. Based on the analysis, interview questions were constructed to elicit further information from the sample. Six students from the sample were selected to be interviewed. The interview outcomes were used to explain the findings of the survey. DATA ANALYSIS Distribution of Secondary School Students who Have Sought Counselling Services in School Table 4 and Figure 1 show the distribution of secondary school students who have sought in school. As can be seen from the table and pie chart below, there were 40 students who have sought whereas the rest of the students in the sample have not sought. The results indicate that while 76.9% of the students have sought in school, another 23.1% of them seemed reluctant to seek. Table 4: Distribution of secondary school students who have sought and who have not sought in school Category of students Percentage Students who have sought % Students who have never sought % 25

6 Figure 1: Distribution of secondary school students who have sought and who have not sought in school 23.1% 76.9% Students who have sought Students who have never sought Relationship between Secondary School Students Gender and Readiness for Counselling Table 5 and Figure 2 show the distribution of secondary school students according to gender and readiness for. As can be seen from the table and graph, there were 22 male and 18 female students who were willing to seek. However, 7 male and 5 female students were reluctant to seek. Chi-Square analysis showed that the difference was not significant (X²= 0.04, df =1, p=0.84). The results indicate that the gender of the students does not affect their willingness or reluctance in seeking. This finding was supported by most interviewees who believe that when facing problems, both genders will naturally find someone to share their problems and in school, the most appropriate person would be the counsellor. Table 5: Distribution of secondary school students according to gender and readiness for Gender Readiness for Willing to seek Reluctant to seek Male 22 7 Female

7 Figure 2: Distribution of secondary school students according to gender and readiness for Willing to seek 7 Reluctant to seek 5 Male Female Readiness for Reasons for Secondary School Students Willingness in Seeking Counselling Services in School Table 6 and Figure 3 below show the reasons for secondary school students willingness in seeking. The table shows the summary of the responses in the survey questionnaire towards the six factors for students willingness in seeking in school. As can be seen from the table and graph, 92.3% of the students were willing to seek because of factor D which is information about the counsellor. This is followed by factor A, attitude towards school (86.5%), and factor C, which is students perception of the counsellor (84.6%). Table 6: Reasons for secondary school students willingness in seeking in school Reasons Percentage Rank order A: Attitude towards school % 2 B: Amount of information about the school % 4 C: Students perception of the counsellor % 3 D: Information about the counsellor % 1 E: Counselling readiness % 5 F: Preference to seek help from others % 6 27

8 Figure 3: Reasons for secondary school students willingness in seeking in school Percentage (%) Attitude towards school 67.3 Amount of information about the school 84.6 Students' perception of the counsellor 92.3 Information about the counsellor 44.2 Counselling readiness 38.5 Preference to seek help from others Subscale The results indicate that students are willing to seek because they have ample information about their counsellors. In addition, they also have positive attitudes towards their school counsellors and the school. The results above are supported by findings from the interviews. According to two of the three interviewees who were willing to seek, the counsellor can solve their problems because the counsellor is trained in the field of psychology. The other interviewee said that he believed that the counsellor is the best person to solve his problem. Most of the respondents claimed that they knew about the privacy ethics that counsellors uphold. They believe that the counsellor will keep whatever discussion confidential. The respondents also claimed that they knew their counsellors well enough to confide in them. In short, the findings above show that students willingness to confide in the counsellor comes from ample information they have and positive perceptions about their counsellors. Reasons for Secondary School Students Reluctance in Seeking Counselling Services in School Table 7 and Figure 4 below show the reasons for secondary school students reluctance in seeking in school. The table shows the summary of the responses in the survey questionnaire towards the six factors for students reluctance in seeking. As can be seen from the table and graph, 86.5% of the students were reluctant to seek because of factor E which is readiness. This was followed by factor F, preference to seek help from others (75%) and factor D which is lack of information about the counsellor (57.7%). 28

9 Table 7: Reasons for secondary school students reluctance in seeking in school Reasons Percentage Rank order A: Attitude towards school % 6 B: Amount of information about the school % 5 C: Students perception of the counsellor % 4 D: Information about the counsellor % 3 E: Counselling readiness % 1 F: Preference to seek help from others % 2 Figure 4: Reasons for secondary school students reluctance in seeking in school Percentage (%) Attitude towards school 21.2 Amount of information about the school 36.5 Students' perception of the counsellor 57.7 Information about the counsellor 86.5 Counselling readiness 75.0 Preference to seek help from others Subscale The results indicate that students are reluctant to seek mainly because they are not ready to seek. In addition, the students prefer to seek help from sources other than the counsellor. The students are also reluctant because of the lack of information about the counsellor. This result is consistent with that in the previous section. The results above are supported by findings from the interviews. One of the respondents said that she is reluctant to seek because she does not know how to identify her 29

10 problems. Therefore, she thinks that she has no problem at all. She is not ready to seek service because she would not know where to start. In terms of help preference, a respondent said that he will only seek service as the last resort because he is more comfortable to share his problems with his close friends. In terms of information about the counsellor, another respondent claimed that he did not know the roles of a counsellor, and thus believed that is only for problematic students. Relationship between Secondary School Students Attitude towards School and Readiness for Counselling Table 8 and Figure 5 show the distribution of secondary school students according to their attitude towards school and readiness for. As can be seen from the table and graph, 38 students who like schooling and 2 students who dislike schooling were willing to seek. However, 12 students who like schooling were reluctant to seek in school. In terms of proportion, it can be seen that there is a higher proportion of students who disliked schooling and who were willing to seek compared to students who liked schooling. Table 8: Distribution of secondary school students according to attitude towards school and readiness for Attitude towards school Willing to seek Readiness for Reluctant to seek I like schooling I dislike schooling 2 0 Figure 5: Distribution of secondary school students according to attitude towards school and readiness for Seek Counselling 2 Do not Seek Counselling 0 I like schooling I dislike schooling Attitude towards School Chi-square analyses showed that the difference was not significant (X²=0.62, df =1, p=0.43). The results indicate that the students attitude towards schooling, whether they like or dislike schooling, does not affect the students readiness in seeking. This may be due to 30

11 the fact that most students who seek help from counsellors have problems related to other factors like conflicts with their parents and not their attitude towards schooling. Relationship between Secondary School Students Attitude towards Teachers and Readiness for Counselling Table 9 and Figure 6 show the distribution of secondary school students according to their attitude towards teachers and readiness for. As can be seen from the table and graph, 39 students who like their teachers and a student who dislikes his/her teachers were willing to seek whereas 12 students who like their teachers were reluctant to seek. In terms of proportion, it can be seen that there is a higher proportion of students who disliked their teachers and were willing to seek than students who liked their teachers. Table 9: Distribution of secondary school students according to attitude towards teachers and readiness for Attitude towards teachers Willing to seek Readiness for Reluctant to seek I like my teachers I dislike my teachers 1 0 Figure 6: Distribution of secondary school students according to attitude towards teachers and readiness for Seek Counselling 1 Do not Seek Counselling 0 I like my teachers I dislike my teachers Attitude towards Teachers Chi-square analysis showed that the difference was not significant (X²=0.31, df =1, p=0.58). The results indicate that the students attitude towards teachers, whether they like or dislike their teachers, does not affect the students readiness in seeking. This is probably due to the fact that if a student faces a problem with his/her teacher, the student will directly meet the teacher to solve the problem without the need to seek help from the counsellor. 31

12 Students Ranking of Helpers When Faced With Problems Related To Difficulties in Studies Table 10 and Figure 6 show the students preferences in seeking help when they have difficulty in their studies. Among the nine potential helpers ranked by the students, Mother received the highest rank in preference with a mean of Apart from mothers, the students also preferred to seek help from their close friends (6.17), fathers (5.63) and form teachers (5.63). It is pertinent to note that the counsellor was ranked seventh with a mean of The results indicate that students prefer to seek help from sources other than the school counsellor when faced with academic problems. Table 10: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to difficulties in studies Potential helpers Overall mean Rank order Mother Close friends Father Form Teacher Brother I kept it to myself Sister Counsellor Relatives Figure 6: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to difficulties in studies Mean Close Friends Counsellor Relatives Brother Sister Father Mother Form Teacher Kept it to myself Potential Helpers 32

13 Students Ranking of Helpers When Faced With Problems Related To Family Table 11 and Figure 7 show the students preferences in seeking help when they face problems related to family. Among the nine potential helpers ranked by the students, Mother received the highest rank in preference with a mean of I kept it to myself was ranked second with a mean of Third was Close Friends with a mean of As with the previous section, the counsellor was ranked seventh with a mean of This shows that students prefer to seek help from sources other than the school counsellor. Table 11: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to family Potential helpers Overall mean Rank order Mother I kept it to myself Close friends Father Brother Sister Counsellor Form Teacher Relatives Figure 7: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to family Mean Close Friends Counsellor Relatives Brother Sister Father Mother Form Teacher Kept it to myself Potential Helpers 33

14 Students Ranking of Helpers When Facing With Problems Related To Uncertainties in Life Table 12 and Figure 8 show the students preferences in seeking help when they face uncertainties in life. Among the nine potential helpers ranked by the students, Mother received the highest rank in preference with a mean of Father was ranked second with a mean of Third was Close Friends with a mean of Once again the counsellor was ranked a lowly seventh with a mean of This shows that students prefer to seek help from other sources such as their parents and close friends than from the school counsellor. Table 12: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to uncertainties in life Potential helpers Overall mean Rank order Mother Father Close friends I kept it to myself Brother Sister Counsellor Relatives Form Teacher Figure 8: Students ranking of helpers when faced with problems related to uncertainties in life Mean Close Friends Counsellor Relatives Brother Sister Father Mother Form Teacher Kept it to myself Potential Helpers 34

15 It can be concluded from the results in this section that for difficulties in study, family problems and uncertainties in life, students prefer to seek their mother s help first, followed by their close friends before resorting to their father. For family problems, a number of students also prefer to keep the problems to themselves. This is not surprising as they cannot confide in their mothers or fathers as they are probably the parties involved. Also, sometimes they cannot relate the problems to their close friends as the problems may be embarrassing. The results from this section also show that the counsellor is one of the last people that students resort to when faced with problems. The results imply that and counsellors still need to work harder to make more useful for students. CONCLUSION In general, the findings of this study showed that a large number of students who were willing to undergo had actually sought the service. In response to research question one, the major reasons why students were willing to seek were because firstly, the students have ample information about their counsellors and their roles. Secondly, the students have a positive perception of the counsellor such as trustworthiness and credibility. Thirdly, they have a positive attitude towards the. With regard to research question two, students were reluctant to seek mainly because of three reasons. Firstly, a large number of them feel that they are not ready to seek. Secondly they prefer to seek help from others. Thirdly, most students feel reluctant to seek because they have little information about the counsellors and their roles. As for the third research question, the potential helpers that the students prefer when faced with problems are their mothers, fathers and close friends. IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS From the findings above, it can be concluded that there are three aspects that counsellors need to consider when offering their. They are readiness, students help preferences and the amount of information about the counsellor. These reasons were found to be the factors that cause the students reluctance in seeking service. First of all, in order to encourage readiness among students, school counsellors can conduct large scale guidance programmes to help students address their problems. With such a programme, students will be able to discover their problems which might encourage them to seek help from the counsellor. Secondly, to increase the students preference towards the counsellor, the counsellor may need to consider working with the people whom students mostly refer to when they have problems such as their parents and close friends. The importance of their roles is acknowledged by Schimdt (2003), who states that Recruiting and organizing parent help and support, especially within the school program, is invaluable (p. 173). The counsellor therefore needs to recruit these people as volunteers to promote service. In Malaysia, the Pembimbing Rakan Sebaya or peer helpers programme is a clear example of how this collaboration can successfully promote the among students in school. 35

16 Thirdly, students should be given adequate information about the counsellor. The counsellor for instance can provide students with ample information about the counsellor s roles and the functions of through brochures. This can be made more effective by emphasizing on the fact that a counsellor is trained in the field of psychology and is bound to the ethic of privacy in providing assistance and in. Given such information, students would be made aware of the roles and responsibilities of counsellors and how the can help them. Hopefully, the students would then seek help from the counsellors when faced with problems. REFERENCES Educational Planning & Research Division. (2001). Education in Malaysia: A journey to excellence. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Education Malaysia. Ministry of Education Malaysia. (2006). Pelan induk pembangunan pendidikan [Educational development master plan]. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Education Malaysia. Taiwo, H. A. (1998). School : The nature of man in Islam as its foundation. Kuala Lumpur: A. S. Noordeen. Tan, J. N. (1989). A case study of students reluctance in seeking. Unpublished master s thesis, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. 36

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