Counselor Training Models In Teacher Training Education And Digital Learning Environment


In this study, we examine the current state and prospects of counselor training in terms of digital learning environment in teacher training education in Russia. The article analyzes the regulatory framework and reveals the specifics of the professional standard for camp counselors in Russia. We employ the reflexive and activity-based approaches as a methodological basis for counselor training singling out the following principles: integrity, responsibility, problematicity, scientificity, social activity, creation of emotionally healthy classroom environment. The article describes the experience of leading Russian universities in the field of counselor training, specifically the model implemented in the Institute of Education of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad, Russia). The model includes the goal of training, principles, forms of implementation - the educational module “Basics of camp counseling” (18 ECTS credits) and the project “Camp counselor school” (4 ECTS credits) - the training course structure, the resources. The model was developed on the ground of the available monitoring data provided by 525 young people in the Kaliningrad region (Russia). The conclusion is made about the need for timely response to the requirements of modernity, constant adjustment and revision of the system of counselor training, as well as improvement of existing models developed on the basis of large-scale youth monitoring. We assume that the proposed model can be extrapolated into the counselor training system in other educational organizations if it includes such elements as conditioning information technology and information security competences.

Keywords: Counselor trainingdigital learning environmentmodel


Globalization which initially emerged as an economic phenomenon now interferes into various aspects of education. The Bologna Declaration served as a catalyst for the reform of national education systems. These processes are accompanied by aggravation of problems leading to a crucial alteration in this area through the emergence of a new educational system. The revolutionary transformations are actively penetrating in the field of education resulting in shaping new delivery modes, individualization of educational paths and an increase in the authenticity of educational experience.

One of the modern transfigurations in the system of education is digitization of higher education which requires the creation of a unified environment where one can “learn how to learn”, be ready for constant changes and shifts, for work with complex projects, for borrowing new advanced practices and experiences, including those of foreign origin, for expanding the boundaries of professional activities, for monitoring the trends in other fields of study and professions. Digital environment should ensure the organization of a proper individual set of competencies, the determination of the discretization mode, with an emphasis on the “joint activity” of all the subjects of the educational process within it.

A presidential decree On the national goals and strategic objectives of the development of the Russian Federation for the period until 2024 (2018), issued in Russia in 2018 highlighted the necessity to ensure the global competitiveness of the Russian education as well as to increase the quality of education in our country.

Approval of the professional standard “Specialist involved in arranging children’s activities at a camp (camp counselor )” (Order of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation, 2018) in December 2018 by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Russian Federation is considered to respond to the actual educational needs of society in the context of the new educational system. Professional standard is a document that contains the requirements for an employee qualification and specifications for carrying out corresponding professional activities. It is worth noting that professional standards are developed not for a specific position or profession, but for the type of professional activity, as they reflect certain labor functions.

Problem Statement

The problem of research relates to conditioning the substantiation of methodological, theoretical, technological approaches to the concept of counseling in the teacher's professional education.

The need to develop the concept of counseling has identified a number of contradictions between: 1) the proclaimed ideas of the national youth policy and the lack of an integrated system of counseling in professional education, its organization and methodological support; 2) the spread of counseling practices in educational institutions and the lack of scientific understanding of the socio-pedagogical potential of this phenomenon; 3) the practice-oriented training and the prevailing event-based approach to the organization of professional education.

Research Questions

The study is aimed at:

1. identifying the regulatory framework and the state of the problem of counselor training models in Russia;

2. justifying the essence of the reflexive approach to counselor training for teacher trainers and identifying the principles that ensure its implementation;

5. conditioning a didactic model of counselor training for teacher trainers;

6 evaluating the effectiveness of the experimental work on monitoring counselor training models for teacher trainers in Russia.

Assistance in organizing children’s holiday and health camps has been singled out as a generalized work function of a counselor in order to support the children’s activities in children's leisure and health improvement organizations, as well as in educational organizations,. Higher education is not essential for fulfilling the above mentioned function.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of study is theoretical and methodological substantiation and concept development of counselor training models for teacher trainers in Russia.

A counselor should be able to support the activities in children's leisure and health improvement organizations, as well as educational institutions, and provide organizational support for children in holiday and health camps. In accordance with the professional standard, all types of professional activities are carried out strictly under the guidance of a qualified pedagogical support.

The main labor activities implemented by a camp counselor are as follows: informing children about the possibility of creating a temporary children's community and participating in it, planning and supporting their activities in accordance with the approved schedule, under the guidance of a teacher conducting various activities aimed at forming a community or interest group, its development, maintaining comfortable environment, increasing the children’s motivation, creativity and team-building. To perform the above mentioned functions at a high professional level, a counselor needs to know national and international regulations in the field of protection of children rights, organization of children's leisure and health improvement, functioning of children's and youth public organizations, to be familiar with the basics of activity planning procedures and technologies implementation and support for various events and activities for children. Knowledge in the field of developmental psychology is also vital for a counselor (Professional standard “Specialist participating in organizing the activities of a children's team (leader)”, 2018). All provisions of the developed professional standard constitute the basis of a new model of camp counselor training at the Institute of Education of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad, Russia).

Research Methods

To solve the set tasks and test the theoretical, empirical and experimental research methods and statistical methods for processing the results were used. Theoretical methods: interdisciplinary analysis and synthesis of methodological, economic, sociological, psychological and pedagogical literature, regulatory and legislative documents of the Russian Federation, national educational standards of higher education; theoretical generalization of research results. Empirical methods: modeling of organizational and pedagogical processes and forecasting development trends, individual and group disputes, diagnostic methods.


The system of holiday and health camps for children has undergone significant changes lately being transformed into a social institution in the context of the educational system, which provides the conditions for achieving educational results (Kharchenko, 2018). In this regard, the issue of improving the quality of camp counselor training is being reconsidered and updated. To determine unified requirements for counselor competences a professional standard for camp counselors was developed in Russia. There was also a need for a mechanism of interaction between the executive authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation specializing in education management, universities implementing teacher training education and schools. For the purpose, a number of Coordination centres for training and support of camp counselors at the federal and regional levels have been introduced. The main tasks of the centers include the development of conceptual approaches and a theoretical model of functioning of pedagogical unions, the improvement of the regulatory and legislative framework for organizing camp counselor training, providing methodological support and coordination of camp counselor internship in universities of the Russian Federation (Regulations on the Federal Coordination Center for training and maintenance of camp leaders, 2018) . On the basis of Federal Coordination Centre recommendations universities developed their own models of counselor training.

Moscow State Pedagogical University presented the model which included five components: fixation of a request for training a counselor, goal-setting and structuring the goals and objectives of the educational program, developing a technology for training counselors in a pedagogical union, implementing theoretical and practical training for counselors, evaluating the result and reflection of theoretical training and the ability to independently solve professional tasks.

The experience of Volgograd State Social-Pedagogical University is of great interest: the counselor training model consists of two constituents: organizational (workshops on theoretical and practical training) and regulatory (an optional course, extra-curriculum practice-oriented training, and implementing projects on camp counseling).

National children’s centres can also bring forward a social order on counselor training. Hence, close networking cooperation emerges as a peculiarity of such counselor training models aiming at the cumulative educational result (Kaitov, L'vova, Lyubchenko, Trukhanovskaya, & Savenkov, 2016).

At the Institute of Education of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (IKBFU), training of counselors is implemented in two main forms:

1. The introduction of the educational module "Basics of Camp Counseling" in the educational programs of teacher training.

2. Functioning of the “Camp Counselor School” - a joint project of the Agency for Youth Affairs of the Kaliningrad Region, the Kaliningrad Regional Branch of the Russian Public Organization “Russian Student Unions” and the Institute of Education of the IKBFU being implemented since 2008. This model of counselor training is relevant for students enrolled in "non-pedagogical" educational programs.

However, new realities in the system of counselor training also demanded a review of the content of the module “Basics of Camp Counseling” in the educational programs of teacher training. To clarify the content of the module under consideration the authors organized a youth policy monitoring, initiated by the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation in 2018. The study involved 525 young people under the age of 25 living on the territory of the Kaliningrad region.

The monitoring identified the following parameters for assessment: enrollment of young people in sections and clubs; involvement of young people in youth policy activities; types of leisure activities; youth satisfaction with life.

The monitoring revealed that only 34% of respondents took part in youth policy events on a regular basis, which indicates a low level of social activity among young people. The solution to this problem, in our opinion, can be applying the principle of social activity in camp counselor training. In addition, relatively small indicators were unveiled in terms of young people enrollment in sections and clubs (only 23% of respondents), which means that young people spend most of their leisure time outside social institutions. Today, we have to admit that the majority of the youth devotes a considerable part of their free time to chatting in social networks or instant messengers (54.7%) and watching videos on the Internet (49.1%). Thus, the Internet becomes the medium of socialization of the modern child. We have to envisage the developing of information technology and information security competences in the counselor.

Changes in the legislative field and the system of interaction of educational organizations in the aspect of counselor training, as well as the results of the conducted monitoring led to the introduction of new forms of teaching and revision of a counselor training model in terms of digital learning environment in the Institute of Education of the IKBFU.

The methodological basis for counselor training model in the context of our research is a reflexive and activity-based approach.

Much attention to the problems of camp counselor training relying on various approaches is paid in the works of both Russian (Chagina, 2008; Kharchenko, 2018; Zelko, 2018) and foreign authors (Wahl-Alexander, Richards, Andrew, & Howell, 2018; Okech & Rubel, 2019; Merlin, 2016; Epley, Ferrari, & Cochran, 2017; Hannah, Williams, Feldhues, & Hall, 2018; Hale, 2012; Mainieri & Anderson, 2015). The reflexive approach is implemented through a specially organized reflexive evaluation procedure aiming at examining the subject under consideration in the context of various paradigm areas. This kind of reflection must meet the following requirements: 1) openness of the subjects’ consciousness, their psychological readiness to expand the informational boundaries of the professional reality; 2) acceptance of the veracity of information without estimating it as it is based on credibility to the authoritative description of paradigm variants of interpretation of the process (phenomenon) under consideration; 3) the correlation of the multiplicity of the process (phenomenon) description with its paradigm belonging; 4) paradigmatic removal of the observer as a subject of reflection, which means that the observer first moves himself out of the familiar paradigmatic area and then returns to it at a qualitatively different level of understanding the process (phenomenon) under consideration (Parakhina, 2016).

Implementing the reflexive approach in camp counselor training we take into account the following terms: 1) organizing the training through solving a interconnected set of problem-oriented contextual tasks and situations; 2) applying real situations that can presumably happen in a professional activity as a ground for problem-oriented contextual tasks; 3) introducing of additional factors in the description of a problem-oriented contextual tasks and situations which, at first sight, do not have any direct relations to it; 4) problem-oriented contextual tasks and situations may not have an unambiguously correct solution, but suggest several solutions each of which has a varying degree of closeness to the optimal one. Such multivariation has a strong learning effect, since the future camp counselor must learn to independently develop an adequate algorithm for solving problem-oriented contextual tasks, relying on rational ways of analyzing and solving the problem.

The main objective of the activity-based approach is to arouse interest of a student to the educational process as a whole, as well as to develop their skills of self-education (Budarina & Zelko, 2018). The activity itself is considered as a system in this approach, that is, it meets the following criteria: integrity, hierarchy, structuredness, possession of new quality, which cannot be reduced to the qualities of individual elements of the system (holism, synergism, emergence). The activity-based approach is well-researched in the works of Batdi (2014), Rubinstein (2002), Shumeiko (2016), Iqbal and Tayyab (2014) and others. In the framework of the activity-based approach, the student is an active subject of educational activities, the internal content of which depends on the personal needs of a student, their motives, goals and operations. As a result, we should gain a person with a proactive approach to life.

Having considered the specific aspects of integral reflexive and activity-based approach we can identify the following principles of counselor training:

- social activity - orientation of education on shaping an active social position of students, adjusting their individual attitudes in accordance with social norms, values, social programs (Chagina, 2008). Training should be activity-oriented and expressed in the external and internal activity of the subject of the educational process. The main sources of social activity are motives, personal and professional interest which should be stimulated by the teacher through the inclusion of project work and problem-oriented contextual tasks of social orientation, peer teaching technologies, immersion in the "production laboratory" in the course of educational process (Parakhina, 2016);

- integrity - a scientifically based combination of subject knowledge and skills into technological blocks (components) that meet the goals and objectives of professional training;

- creating emotionally healthy classroom environment – a special organization of the educational process, which, taking into account the individual characteristics of future camp counselors, creates optimal conditions for the disclosure of the individual's internal resources and the realization of everyone’s potential both personal and in terms of professional activity;

- responsibility - designing and implementing the educational process taking into account the necessity to develop complete understanding the importance of mastering the educational program in connection with further professional activities - working with children;

- scientificity – the correspondence of the educational content of counselor training to the level of development of modern pedagogical science;

- problematicity – orientation on presenting knowledge to students not in a deterministic, ready-made form but on combining teaching methods based on logical-cognitive contradictions of the learning process, including cognitive-research communicative tasks, representing a system of interrelated professional problems, characterized by an increase in intellectual and communicative difficulties.

The implementation of the process of counselor training in terms of digital learning environment takes into account: the restructuring of the system for designing and developing educational programs of higher education; shift in the orientation of students' activities from simple acquiring knowledge to research or project work which ensures the abilities of self-control, self-analysis, self-assessment and mutual evaluation shaping. It also helps to build a new system of interaction between all participants of the educational process on the basis of adopting common goals, harmonizing interests and creating an atmosphere of constant “immersion” in the process of productive activity. To implement the process of building an individual learning trajectory, a comprehensive information support is formed, allowing to determine the personality characteristics of the learner, the degree of skills, abilities to learn, cognitive processes and cognitive activity development. Expanding the boundaries of interaction (including employers, teachers in other fields of knowledge, experts) leads to the situation of finding a learner in the "professional community" in which he/she discusses and makes joint decisions. It provides the student with the opportunity to realize their social role and the possibility of its realization in the professional sphere.

The content part of a camp counselor training model includes forms of implementation and training course structure.

The training module includes 2 disciplines “Fundamentals of social design and volunteering” (2 ECTS credits), “Basics of Camp Counseling” (4 ECTS credits), practical training (6 ECTS credits), work experience internship (6 ECTS credits). The module is implemented within 4 semesters (1st and 2nd years) and its overall workload is 18 ECTS credits.

The discipline “Fundamentals of social design and volunteering” is socio-pedagogically oriented and takes on the task of developing the ability of future teachers to create conditions for the social development and social activity of children.

The discipline “Basics of Camp Counseling” is aimed at providing fundamental theoretical and practical training for students so that they are able to work as counselors implementing personal development of the younger generation and shaping a system of moral values, active citizenship and a responsible attitude towards the society. Based on the requirements of the professional standard for camp counselors the key sections of the discipline can be highlighted as follows: “History of counseling”, “Regulatory and legal foundations of counseling”, “Psychological and pedagogical bases of counseling”, “Technologies of counseling in educational institutions and children's camps”, “Theory and methods of education within a temporary children's group”, “Pedagogical communication in conditions of a summer camp”. Also, we took into account the results of the conducted monitoring and, thus, included 2 more content constituents: “Information security and implementing social networks” and “Information and media support for counseling”. It is important for a camp counselor to have a good command of modern techniques and digital technologies as they have penetrated into all spheres of human activity. In addition, information technologies can be one of the tools in counseling, for example, in presenting a camp unit, developing a project or a creative event like a farewell video of the unit. Counselors should be able to use information technologies for computer diagnostics, conducting psychological tests, developmental games, reflection, etc.

The educational module includes two types of practice. Practical training is implemented in the summer period in the first year (duration 4 weeks). Students are directed to camps organized at schools in the summer time for younger schoolchildren. As a practice task students should present 2 educational events with younger schoolchildren under the supervision of a teacher or a tutor, analyze the regulatory and legal framework for organizing children's activities, the action plan of a camp in terms of compliance with social, age and psycho-physiological features of children, including those with special educational needs.

Work experience internship at children's holiday and health camps is implemented in the summer period in the second year after mastering the discipline “Basics of Camp Counseling”. Students fill out an individual self-diagnosis card of their professional competence, compile a brief psychological and pedagogical characteristics of a children's group, develop an action plan, provide a 24-hour psychological and pedagogical support for children (Figure 01 ).

Figure 1: Camp counselor training model in teacher training education in Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Camp counselor training model in teacher training education in Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
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Considering all the above, we can draw the following conclusions:

- an important principle in counselor training is the principle of social activity which aims future teachers at focusing on social development of a child's personality. A common contextual base appears to be underpinned by the reflexive and activity-based approach to counselor training;

- the results of the conducted monitoring made it possible to timely adjust the goals and objectives of counselor training and make it relevant not only in the territory of the Kaliningrad region, but also abroad. We made conclusions about the necessity of formation of competencies in the field of information technology and information security among the leaders, which will make it possible to create a qualitatively new shift model subject to the safe use of Internet resources;

- in modern conditions it is required to develop the concept of counselor training in terms of teacher training education taking into account digital learning environment. It will not only contribute to the improvement of the quality of education but will also ensure the successful development of an individual learning path in higher education. The leading idea of counselor training in terms of teacher training education taking into account digital learning environment should be “student engagement as a form of self-development”. This idea is expressed in student’s defining the learning path, student engagement in organization and implementation of the educational process, revision, change, adjustment and decision-making in the field of future professional activities, student responsibility for the activities performed and decisions taken.

Through interaction with other subjects of the educational process in counselor training in terms of digital learning environment students get new opportunities in self-perception as active participants in building of their future in terms of professional activity, defining their social roles, in the awareness of "belonging" to the “common cause” in the chosen subject area of professional activity. Digital learning environment allows to “break away” from the existing templates and clichés of professional activity, expands the learner's capabilities in development (or self-development), creativity even during the professional training at university.

- the developed model of training counselors can be successfully extrapolated to other educational organizations in order to update their educational potential;

- despite the significant changes that have recently occurred in the regulatory framework in terms of training specialists involved in organizing the activities of the children's team, it is necessary to intensify a large-scale psychological and pedagogical scientific research aimed at building a scientifically based strategy for training counselors, defining forms and conditions just modernizing, and creating a qualitatively new model on new, theoretically meaningful grounds that meet modern requirements and levels of development in the society.


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30 September 2019

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Budarina*, A. O., Parakhina, O. V., Polupan, K. L., & Zelko, A. S. (2019). Counselor Training Models In Teacher Training Education And Digital Learning Environment. In S. K. Lo (Ed.), Education Environment for the Information Age, vol 69. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 216-226). Future Academy.