Empathy Map:Understanding the Needs of School Counselors

My problem of practice is how can I develop and/or enhance the skills that will enable practicing school counselors to follow a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program?

I would like to increase the number of school counseling programs in Michigan that are accredited as a data-driven RAMP school.  Currently, Michigan has 4 schools that are RAMP accredited.

Kevin Wilkerson, Rachelle Perusse, and Ashley Hughes (2013) notes, “practicing professionals need to consider how they might develop and/or enhance the skills that will enable them to carry out this type of work.” [data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program]

Julie Hartline and Debra Cobia (2012) also concludes that, “the need exists for training and opportunities for professional development for practicing school counselors in the understanding and implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program based on the ASCA National Model.  Unfortunately, such opportunities still are not widely available.”

Anita Young and Carol Kaffenberger (2011) state, “what is unclear is how to help school counselors repeatedly use data to develop and improve their school counseling programs.”

My idea is to create an online professional development course that will support practicing school counselors in implementing a program.

Through my research, I also would like to make a proposal to the state of Michigan to support a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program through implementing a state program such as Indiana’s Gold Star program.

In my empathy research, I wanted to gather the RAMP recipient’s story of how they achieved RAMP.  I reached out to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to get the RAMP recipient contact information.  I developed an email for the RAMP recipients.  I also did what I was asking the RAMP recipients to do…..I told our story.  I realized this took time and school counselors have limited time.  So I created an 11 question survey using Google Forms.

I wasn’t sure if I would be getting the contact information so I also found stories through video, audio, and research articles.

The first was a podcast done by ASCA.  This was an interview with a past RAMP recipient, Christy Clapper. (2013)

The second story was, Marissa Rex, an elementary school counselor’s video podcast, “A Day in the Life of a School Counselor.” (2013) She also helps others through her website http://www.elementaryschoolcounseling.org.

The third story was a video crew who followed an elementary school counselor, Andrea Rose, through her day as a school counselor. This video was produced by Portland Community College in Oregon for career exploration. (2011)

I also read the journal articles, “Comprehensive School Counseling Programs and Student Achievement Outcomes: A Comparative Analysis of RAMP vs Non-RAMP Schools.” (Wilkerson, Perusse, and Hughes, 2013)

“Successful Implementation of a Federally Funded Violence Prevention Elementary School Counseling Program.” (Duarte and Hatch, 2014-15)

“School Counselors: Closing Achievement Gaps and Writing Results Reports.” (Hartline and Cobia, 2012)

“The Beliefs and Practices of School Counselors Who Use Data to Implement Comprehensive School Counseling Programs.” (Young and Kaffenberger, 2011)

Using these stories and the research I created an Empathy Map from the Stanford Design Model:

Empathy Map2

What really stood out was when a counselor said she felt alone.  This gave me insight that a support system was needed for school counselors.  I also found that the state with the most RAMP schools, Indiana, had a program in place.  The state uses a Gold Star Program that aligns with RAMP and has other state-wide initiatives. (Wilkerson et al., 2013)  Georgia, the second highest state, has a strong Department of Education that offers webinars and lesson plans.  It also has a program, Georgia Keys, which provides a framework for Georgia schools to make improvements. (Hartline and Cobia, 2012) So a theme started to emerge showing that a system of supports needed to be in place for RAMP schools.

Also, on my whiteboard of sticky notes I created a RAMP section.  This was common traits that RAMP schools had in their program.  Certain traits emerged that school counselors would need to be successful.

RAMP notes


After my initial research, I was given the contact information for past RAMP recipients.  This will take time to collect their data but I hope it will further add to my understanding of what school counselors need to apply for RAMP.  I will add to my Empathy Map as I collect this data.

Lastly, after focusing on success stories, I found that I might get more out of the school counselors that did not apply for RAMP.  I was able to add to my empathy map the traits that hindered school counselors from implementing a data-driven, comprehensive school counseling program.  This gave be better insight into what needed to be covered in an online course.

I hope to continue my research so I can develop a successful online school counseling course.


One thought on “Empathy Map:Understanding the Needs of School Counselors

  1. Pingback: RAMP Recipients: Understanding the Needs of School Counselors | cmlindberg

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