Teacher inference during problem identification and the perception of the effectiveness of the consultant

Patricia Dolan Manning, Pace University


In Bergan's model of behavioral consultation, school psychologists deliver indirect services to children by working with teachers to develop interventions that are carried out by the teacher. Bergan identified four stages in the consultation process and, with Tombari, developed a system to classify the verbalizations in consultation. Following investigations into the acceptability of behavioral interventions, researchers examined the acceptability of the consultation process to teachers. Several types of verbalizations were shown to affect the acceptability of consultation. This study examined consultant and consultee preferences for the presence of teacher behavior inference emitters in the problem identification stage of consultation and for the type of consultant response to those emitters. It was hypothesized that teachers would perceive consultants as more effective when consultation transcripts included teacher inferences. It was anticipated that teachers would respond more favorably when the inference was incorporated into the problem identification by the consultant than when the inference was merely acknowledged. In addition, it was hypothesized that psychologists would rate consultants more favorably when teachers did not make inferences in this stage. The sample consisted of 49 school psychologists and 55 teachers. The psychologists were solicited through their school districts and through a mailing to school psychologists, and each was asked to solicit a teacher. Each participant read two of six vignettes and rated the effectiveness of the consultant on the Consultant Effectiveness Form (CEF). The results revealed no preferences in either professional group for a particular level of inference during the problem identification stage of consultation, nor were there significant differences between the groups in their responses. This suggests that individual characteristics rather than professional affiliation determine whether school personnel prefer problem identification interviews that include teacher inference. One implication of this study is the need for the school psychologist to consider his or her own preferences within the consultation process and to be sensitive to the preferences of the consultee. An examination of the demographic data revealed significant positive correlations for both professions for the length of time in present position and the perception of consultation as helpful, suggesting that long term professional relationships may enhance acceptability for both professions.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Manning, Patricia Dolan, "Teacher inference during problem identification and the perception of the effectiveness of the consultant" (2001). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3004070.



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