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School Environmental Preference Survey

The SEPS is a measure of work role socialization typically fostered in the school.

AUTHOR: Leonard V. Gordon (Ph.D., Ohio State University),
RANGE: Elementary, Junior and Senior High School Students (Grades 3 to 13).
FORM: One form.
TIME: Approximately 10 to 15 minutes.


The School Enviornment Preference Survey (SEPS) is a measure of work role socialization as it occurs in the traditional school. It assesses the individual’s level of commitment to the set of attitudes, values and behaviors that are preparatory for entry into many areas of the world of work and that are fostered and rewarded in most school settings. The scales measured are Structured Role Orientation, Self-Subordination, Traditionalism, Rule Conformity and Uncriticalness.


The SEPS has been found to be related to indices of school achievement and adjustment, both attitudinal and behavioral, and thus should be of value in a number of applications. It should help the teacher, counselor or school psychologist to obtain a better understanding of the student, particularly in those situations where the focus of the relationship are problems of an academic or disciplinary nature. The SEPS may prove to be useful in vocational counseling where the student's work-climate preference may be taken into account, and in classes in vocational education where organizational characteristics may be discussed in terms that are familiar to the student. Teachers may find the SEPS to be of value in planning instructional strategies for their classes, or as an aid in placement where alternate learning environments are available. The several aspects of work role socialization incorporated in the SEPS would serve as meaningful referents in values clarification exercises.

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Normative data were obtained from a sampling of students in schools in all major regions of the country. Students of varying socio-economic levels and racial composition were represented in the schools selected. The broadly representative norms presented in this Manual constitute only one interpretive frame of reference. In many situations, local school norms would be the more appropriate.


So - Structured Role Orientation: High scores typify students who are accepting of and acquiescent to authority, who seek the security of institutional and group identification, who would prefer to have specific rules and guidelines to follow, and who are disinclined to question expert judgment. Low scores are made by students who do not so characterize themselves.
S - Self-subordination (compliant acceptance of authority): High scoring students believe that teachers know what is best for their students, and that students should do what their teachers want them to do. 
T - Traditionalism (identification with the institutional subculture): High scoring students believe that students should always speak well of their school, and that they should conform to the peer group subculture of the school. 
R - Rule Conformity (close adherence to rules of conduct): High scoring students believe in the importance of following rules, of behaving properly and of not doing anything that might be considered wrong.
U - Uncriticalness (uncritical acceptance of expert judgment): High scoring students believe that teachers are able to answer any questions in their area of specialization, and that their statements should not be questioned.