Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

Sub-Department

School Psychology

First Advisor

Scott Huebner

Second Advisor

Frederic J. Medway

Abstract

Background. Stress has been found to affect workers in various occupations, and teaching appears particularly stressful. Work-Related Stress (WRS) affects teachers and people with whom they interact. Previous research suggests WRS may be related to characteristics including teaching experience, feelings, and coping strategy. Objective. The purpose of this study was to investigate further the relationship of teacher stress, while expanding the investigation in several areas: utilizing a different geographic population, broadening the focus to generic WRS, and including teachers with less experience. Current model builds on Kyriacou and Sutcliffe's (1978) and Tolbert's (2007) teacher stress models. This study examined relationships between Individual Teacher Characteristics (Years of Teaching Experience, Hope, Locus of Control (LOC), and Non-Teaching Stress) and teacher's Perception/Appraisal of WRS and Experience of Negative/Positive Feelings of Stress and selection of Coping Strategy. Coping Strategy was examined in relation to outcome measures: Depression, Absences from Work, and Commitment to Teaching. It was hypothesized that teachers with less experience, and experiencing low levels of Hope, feelings of an external LOC, and more personal stress, would be more stressed and choose Unconstructive Coping Strategies. Increased WRS was hypothesized to predict Negative Feelings; while higher WRS and Negative Feelings should predict Unconstructive Coping Strategies. Constructive Coping Strategy choice was hypothesized to predict fewer Depression symptoms, fewer Absences, and increased Commitment. Less Depression and fewer Absences should predict increased Commitment; less Depression predicts fewer Absences. Methods. Participants were 140 elementary-level teachers, from 25 South Carolina schools. Teachers anonymously completed self-report questionnaires. Regression equations were calculated to analyze relationships. Results. Results revealed significant relationships: WRS predicted Feelings (R2=.26, p<.0001); Feelings predicted Coping Strategy (R2=.10, p<.001); Hope and Non-Teaching Stress predicted Coping Strategy (R2=.12, p<.01); Coping Strategy predicted Depression (R2=.21, p<.0001.); Depression predicted Absences (R2=.15, p<.0001); Absences predicted Commitment (R2=.05, p<.05). Discussion. Findings suggest teachers felt most stress is related to their occupation, not personal lives. Interventions to increase teacher well-being include: lowering perceived occupational stress, increasing positive feelings from stress, choosing positive coping strategies, and encouraging characteristics such as Hope. These changes may positively impact teachers, as well as their peers, students and family.

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