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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Retention Review Policy-Counselor Education

In agreement with the Ethical Guidelines of the American Counseling Association, the UNI Counselor Education Program has developed the following student evaluation and retention procedures. The faculty considers not only academic abilities and skill performance when making retention decisions about students, but also such aspects as whether the student has appropriate levels of maturity, judgment, emotional stability, professionalism, sensitivity to others, self-awareness, good interpersonal relationship skills, and ethical behavior.

The following procedures apply in instances where there are concerns about retaining students in the counselor education School or Mental Health Counseling programs. This retention review process is initiated when the faculty has questions about a student's progress or performance in the program after the 1st Semester Requirements for Advancement and is not the same as a student grievance which is initiated by a student who feels aggrieved because of something that an instructor has or has not done. Copies of the grievance procedure guidelines and grievance forms are available in the Office of the Graduate College.

The Retention Review Process

Every effort is made to handle faculty concerns about student performance and progress in the program on an informal basis and to work together to resolve these concerns. There are two levels to the process: informal and formal review.

I. The Informal Review Procedure

(A) A counselor education faculty member meets with a student and expresses his/her concerns about performance and status in the program. During this meeting, the student is given time to respond to the concerns, and together the faculty member and the student establish a plan to remedy the situation. At this time, the faculty member informs the student that she/he will discuss the concern and plan of action with the counselor education faculty. Following this meeting with the faculty, the faculty member who initiated the discussion with the student will again meet with the student to share any additional pertinent information or additions to the action plan. Following student-faculty discussion, the plan is finalized and a written copy is sent by the initiating faculty member to the student and all members of the counselor education faculty. The plan should include specific steps to enhance performance and will include a timeline which the faculty member will monitor.


(B) In some circumstances, a faculty member may raise a question or concern about a student's progress or competence in a faculty meeting. As a group, faculty share perceptions and suggest alternatives for remediation. Following this meeting, the student's advisor, program coordinator, or initiating faculty member will meet with the student to share the concerns and suggested plan for remediation. The student has the opportunity at this time to respond to the concerns and give input on the plan, or may request a meeting with the faculty to clarify the issues and develop a plan of action. After agreement on the plan, it will be put in writing by the advisor, coordinator, or initiating faculty member with copies to the student and other faculty members. The advisor will monitor progress according to the agreed-upon timeline.

The intent in (a) and (b) is to develop a specific plan of action to remediate a concern at an informal level. Suggestions for remediation may include individual or group counseling, focused reading in a particular area, attending a course for a second time, receiving more specific feedback and assistance from a particular faculty member, developing tapes and practicing clinical skills, doing volunteer work to gain experience, or receiving personal counseling.

At the end of the agreed upon timeline, the advisor, program coordinator, or initiating faculty member meets with the student to discuss goal attainment. Following this meeting, the inititating faculty member meets with the counselor education faculty to discuss attainment of the specific goals. If the faculty agrees that satisfactory progress has been made, this information is shared in writing with the student by the advisor, program coordinator, or initiating faculty member, with a copy to the faculty. If the faculty think that satisfactory progress has not been made, the formal retention review process is initiated.

II. The Formal Review Process and Retention Review Meeting

If it is determined that the plan of action outlined in the informal review process has not been satisfactorily achieved, the student is invited to meet with the faculty. During this retention review meeting, the student is first given the opportunity to share pertinent information about the plan of action. The faculty also share perceptions at this time with the student.

After the student has had adequate time to be heard, she or he is excused from the meeting and the counselor education faculty engages in further discussion and review as necessary in order to make a decision which consists of three options:

  1. The student will be allowed to continue in the program without restrictions because the concerns do not warrant further action, as determined by the information provided by the student in the retention review meeting.
  2. The student may be placed on "professional probation" with specific outcomes and criteria specified for remediation. These procedures will be placed in writing, with copies to the student, faculty, Department Head and Graduate Dean. During this probationary period, the student is not usually allowed to enroll in practicum or internship. The probationary plan will be monitored by the student's advisor. At the end of the time period specified for remediation, the faculty will meet to discuss whether to remove the student from probation, continue probation with a new set of recommendations and timeframe, or suspend from the program.
  3. If the student is suspended from the program, he/she may not enroll in further coursework in counseling. After this decision is made, it will be communicated in person to the student by the Coordinator of Counseling and in writing to the student, faculty, Department Head and Graduate Dean.

The student may appeal to the Department Head within 10 days after being notified of the decision. This appeal procedure is outlined in the Student Policies and Regulations Affecting Students document available in the Vice President's office, Student Services Center.

The UNI Program of Counselor Education believes that the stated procedures are in accord with accepted educational practices and the following guidelines of the American Counseling Association:

Members, through continual student evaluation and appraisal, must be aware of the personal limitations of the learner that might impede future performance. The instructor must not only assist the learner in securing remedial assistance but also screen fromthe program those individuals who are unable to provide competent services.

Retention in Practicum or Internship

Occasionally during practicum or internship the instructor or site supervisor(s) may have significant concerns about an individual's skill levels or professional deportment that are sufficient enough to remove the student from the clinical setting. In this case, concerns are expressed verbally and in writing to the student and a remedial plan is developed. This plan may include one or more of the following: attending a skills course for a second time, practicing skills with peers and reviewing tapes with faculty members, doing further reading, or getting personal counseling. The decision to remove a student from this clinical setting is made by the instructor, with input from site supervisors and consultation with the area coordinator. Ordinarily if a student is removed from practicum or internship and agrees to follow the remedial plan, he or she is allowed to re-take the course after it has been determined that sufficient progress has been made and that the student is ready to work with actual clients. If the student does not agree to the remedial plan, the program retention review is initiated because in accordance with ACA and ACES ethical guidelines, we cannot jeopardize clients' welfare by allowing students to counsel them if their skill level or professional deportment is inadequate.