ERIC Identifier: ED372348
Publication Date: 1994-04-00
Author: Harris, Morag B. Colvin
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse
on Counseling and Student Services Greensboro NC.
Supervisory Evaluation and Feedback. ERIC Digest.
Counselor educators and field supervisors often feel uncomfortable about
assessing trainee skills and struggle to find an appropriate vehicle for
delivering essential constructive feedback regarding performance. Most have
received little or no training in evaluation or assessment practices. However,
current and proposed accreditation, certification, and licensure regulations
place an increasing emphasis on the evaluation and assessment of counselor
performance. Clearly, evaluation practices will need to be augmented by
theoretical and conceptual knowledge, as well as programmatic research.
The purpose of this digest is to suggest that there exist some fairly basic
premises from educational psychology (Gage & Berliner, 1984), educational
evaluation (Isaacs & Michaels, 1981), and counselor supervision literature
(Bernard & Goodyear, 1992) that can improve supervision evaluation
practices, and thus reduce the ambiguity and uncertainty about evaluation in
supervision. Although this digest does not specifically address program
evaluation, it should be clear that this is also an important component of any
comprehensive evaluation endeavor.
Professional competence evaluation is
made in a series of formal and informal measurements that result in a judgment
that an "individual is fit to practice a profession autonomously" (McGaghie,
1991). Summative evaluation describes "how effective or ineffective, how
adequate or inadequate, how good or bad, how valuable or invaluable, and how
appropriate or inappropriate" the trainee is "in terms of the perceptions of the
individual who makes use of the information provided by the evaluator" (Isaac
& Mitchell, 1981, p. 2). Counselor supervisors are responsible for summative
evaluations and assessments of supervisee competence to university departments,
state licensing boards, and agency administrators. Summative evaluation is
described by Bernard and Goodyear (1992) as "the moment of truth when the
supervisor steps back, takes stock, and decides how the trainee measures up" (p.
105). Effective summative evaluation requires clearly delineated performance
objectives that can be assessed in both quantitative and qualitative terms and
that have been made explicit to the trainee during initial supervision contacts.
The heart of counselor evaluation, however, is an on-going formative process
which uses feedback and leads to trainee skills improvement and positive client
outcome. In this case the trainee is the person using the information. Bernard
and Goodyear (1992) refer to this kind of evaluation as "a constant variable in
supervision." As a result, every supervision session will contain either an
overt or covert formative evaluation component.
EVALUATION PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES
measure behavioral therapeutic skills they find several difficult areas. First,
they find that measurement and subsequent evaluation of therapeutic skill is a
complex process in a field where many skills inventories and behavioral
checklists abound, and research findings suggest that these may lack adequate
reliability and validity. Second, university supervisors recognize the tension
between providing a supportive facilitative environment within which
counselors-in-training can feel free to stretch and learn counseling skills and
the anxiety that results from academic grades. Third, lacking a theory of
supervision, supervisors are unable to articulate desired outcomes for their
supervisees and may revert to the evaluation of administrative detail and case
management. As a result of these difficulties, numerous areas of competency may
be neglected, anxiety may persist, and supervisors may resort to summative
evaluation practices in global and poorly measured terms.
There are resources which outline requisite skills and knowledge for
effective evaluation practices. The Curriculum Guide for Training Counselor
Supervisors (Borders et al., 1991) provides specific learning objectives for
supervisors-in-training. Other current publications (Bernard & Goodyear,
1992; Borders & Leddick, 1987; McGaghie, 1991; Stoltenberg & Delworth,
1987) further develop the Guide's "three curriculum threads" (p.60) of self
awareness, theoretical and conceptual knowledge, and skills and techniques. The
guidelines and suggestions from these resources are summarized in the following
list of effective evaluation practices:
Clearly communicate evaluation criteria to supervisees and develop a mutually
agreed upon written contract reflecting these criteria.
Identify and communicate supervisee strengths and weaknesses. The Ethical
Guidelines for Counselor Supervisors (ACES, 1993) recommend that supervisors
"provide supervisees with ongoing feedback on their performance." This
performance feedback establishes for supervisees a clear sense of what they do
well and which skills need to be developed. Supervisee strengths and weaknesses
can be evaluated in terms of process, conceptual, personal, and professional
skills (Bernard & Goodyear, 1992, p. 42).
Use constructive feedback techniques during evaluations. Supervisees are more
likely to "hear" corrective feedback messages when these are preceded by
positive feedback, focused on observable behaviors, and are delayed until a
positive relationship has been established.
Utilize specific, behavioral, observable feedback dealing with counseling skills
and techniques; avoid terms such as "understanding," "knowing and appreciating,"
and "being aware of." Successful evaluation practices should include
behaviorally-based learning objectives (Gage & Berliner, 1984).
Use Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) to raise supervisees' awareness about
their personal developmental issues. The unobtrusive and nonthreatening nature
of IPR is particularly helpful as supervisees retrospectively explore their
thoughts, feelings, and a variety of client stimuli during counseling sessions.
This process can assist supervisees in contributing to, and benefiting from,
Employ multiple measures of supervisee counseling skills. These can include a
variety of standardized rating scales including measures completed by both
supervisor and supervisee, client ratings, and behavioral scales (Stoltenberg
& Delworth, 1987). Additional measures such as work samples from
audio/videos, critiques of counseling sessions, and conceptual case studies
(both brief and detailed) can provide a comprehensive picture of a supervisee's
competency, expectations, needs and professional development, as well as an
understanding of the context within which both the counseling and the
supervision take place.
Maintain a series of work samples in a portfolio for summative evaluation. Since
the evaluation of only one session provides an inadequate assessment of
supervisee competency, and the selective nature of work samples may prove to be
an overly negative reflection of current competency level, the portfolio
provides both the supervisor and the supervisee with a more comprehensive and
useful basis for a summative evaluation.
Use a developmental approach which emphasizes both progressive growth toward
desired goals and the learning readiness of the trainee (Nance, 1990). The Nance
model emphasizes a learning readiness based on the supervisee's ability,
confidence, and willingness--the assessment of which directs the roles and
practices of the supervisor. As a result, supervisors can "match" their
supervisee's level and "move" them toward independent functioning one step at a
time. Although Nance does not specify evaluation practices, he clearly describes
effective supervisory styles, interventions, role, contracts, and agendas for
each developmental stage. These variables can guide the evaluation process
indirectly by enabling the supervisor to understand the characteristics and
appropriate expectations for supervisees at each developmental level.
A structured approach to supervisee assessment and
evaluation produces several beneficial outcomes. First, supervisors can reduce
their own, as well as their supervisee's, anxiety about the process. The
meanings associated with assessment can be altered to suggest a positive
experience from which both partners can grow and learn. Second, supervisors who
articulate their adopted "supervision theory" to their supervisees will also
clarify their evaluation criteria as well as their supervision practices. Third,
when evaluation is viewed as a process of formative and summative "assessment" of the skills, techniques, and developmental stage of the supervisee, both
supervisees and their clients benefit. Fourth, as supervisors deal successfully
with the process of supervisee evaluation, they also bring similar skills to the
evaluation of their training programs, an area in search of an appropriate
evaluation paradigm. Finally, just as training is most successful when multiple
methods (didactic, modeling, and experiential) of skills acquisition are
employed, so too the use of multiple methods for evaluation contributes to the
supervisee's sense of self-worth and success.
Association for Counselor Education and
Supervision. Ethical Guidelines for Counseling Supervisors (1993). ACES
Spectrum, 53(4), 5-8.
Bernard, J. M., & Goodyear, R. K. (1992). Fundamentals of clinical
supervision. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Borders, L. D., Bernard, J. M., Dye, H. A., Fong, M. L., Henderson, P., &
Nance, D. (1991). Curriculum guide for training counselor supervisors:
Rationale, development, and implementation. Counselor Education and Supervision,
Borders, L. D., & Leddick, G. R. (1987). Handbook of counseling
supervision. Alexandria, VA: Association for Counselor Education and
Gage, N. L., & Berliner, D. C. (1984). Educational psychology (3rd ed.).
Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Isaacs, S., & Michael, W. B. (1981). Handbook in research and evaluation
(2nd ed.). San Diego: EdITS.
McGaghie, W. C. (1991). Professional competence evaluation. Educational
Researcher, 20, 3-9.
Nance, D. W. (1990). ACES Workshop on Counselor Supervision. Workshop
presented at the annual convention of American Association for Counseling and
Development, Cincinnati, OH.
Stoltenberg, C. D., & Delworth, U. (1987). Supervising counselors and
therapists: A developmental approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.