The development of the self concept in adolescents undergoing a peer counsellor training programme.
The main focus of this research study was to assess changes that occurred in the self concept of female adolescents undergoing an interpersonal skills training course that was incorporated into a peer counselling pre-selection training programme. Secondary aims were formulated, on the basis that the course would form an integral part of the existing peer counselling programme, to increase the effectiveness of the existing programme and improve perceptions of counselling and guidance in the school environment. A careful investigation was made of various measures of the self concept, and their usage within the South African context. It was decided to use the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS). Use was also made of a questionnaire, consisting of both closed-ended and open-ended questions to substantiate and augment findings established by the TSCS. The actual programme, which formed the basis of this research, took place during the second school term, after school hours. The setting of the research in the school environment, as part of an existing school programme was seen as being advantageous. Problems attached to sustaining such a programme in a natural setting were carefully assessed and considered. A comparison group was established at a similar school in a neighbouring city, to try to establish levels of validity. Because an important aspect of this programme was the active involvement of learners in the school environment, learners who were already peer counsellors were involved in the running of the course. The actual programme was based on the concepts established by Rogers and developed by researchers such as Purkey and Novak. Consideration was given to theoretical aspects applicable to adolescents in the study of the self concept. The results of the TSCS and the questionnaire were analysed and changes to the self concept of the experimental and comparison groups were considered. Positive gains in the self concept of the experimental group were noted. However, caution was expressed in the interpretation of this information due to the difficulties inherent in defining the self concept and in controlling other variables which may have be influential. An important aspect of this study is the democratic nature inherent to the peer counselling model. This aspect resulted in specific consideration being given to the role of the educator in organising a peer counselling programme. The researcher considered this of significance in the light of education in an emergent democracy, such as that of South Africa.