The use of professional support groups for the continuing professional development of school psychologists: A survey

Nancy A Schafer, Fordham University


While the need for continuing professional development activities for school psychologists is recognized, the few approaches available appear to be inadequate and of limited usefulness. The professional support group (PSG) is presented as a viable and potentially widely available supportive framework for continuing professional development. The PSG can be used to stimulate new ideas and information, provide practical help in skill development, improve professional functioning, renew energy and confidence, and decrease isolation. While there are indications that many school psychologists have participated in PSGs, there is little research in this area. The Professional Support Group Survey (PSGS) was developed for this study to gather factual and subjective information about school psychologists' experiences in PSGs. The areas covered by the PSGS include demographic information about survey respondents, descriptive information about the PSGs, critical components of the PSG, as identified in the literature, the extent of perceived success or failure of the PSG, and perceptions of the characteristics which contributed to its success or failure. The survey was mailed to a 5% stratified random sample of school psychologists from the directory of the National Association of School Psychologists (N = 470). There were 231 responses, yielding a return rate of 49%. Of these respondents, 29% had participated in a PSG, thereby yielding 68 surveys with completed PSG items. Results of the multiple regression analysis indicated that 47% of the variance in perceived success of the PSG is predicted by five of the research variables. The implication of the results is that PSG success can be fostered by planning for a high degree of diversity of learning activity; achieving a balance in meeting both professional and personal needs; and a membership characterized by heterogeneous types and years of work experience, and homogeneous professional goals and interests. The results of this study support the viability of the PSG as a means of continuing professional development. There is a high degree of interest in PSGs; the nature of the PSGs currently operating appears to be highly professional; and PSGs are generally successful in meeting members' professional development needs.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Schafer, Nancy A, "The use of professional support groups for the continuing professional development of school psychologists: A survey" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9034636.