23 SES 14 A, Education Reforms and Teachers' Work Experiences
This study examines, to what extent nationwide school reforms (i.e. educational standards) influence teachers’ stress experience. In particular, it is investigated whether different elements of a reform (changes in teaching styles, external testing, data feedback, etc.) are associated with different levels of stress, psychosomatic disorders and coping styles.
The phenomenon of teachers’ pressure of work has received increasing attention in the past few years. Lots of studies identified teachers as a risk group, characterized by high levels of work pressure (de Heus & Diekstra, 1999; Schaarschmidt & Fischer, 1997). Previous studies attributed these high stress levels primarily to teaching activities (e.g. motivation of students, maintaining discipline in classrooms; Pithers & Soden, 1998; Travers & Cooper, 1996). However, recent data indicate that high levels of stress are mainly driven by frequent changes in the school system (McCormick, Ayres & Beechey, 2006).
According to the theoretical framework of Kyriacou and Sutcliffe, 1978 (see also Rudow, 1990) teachers stress experience is influenced by two different types of stressors, private and occupational stressors. Thereby stressors can result in both, positive outcome (motivation) as well as hindrance/stress. Depending on the subjective classification of hindrance or motivation of the stress (which can be predicted by biography, personality, values, and attitudes), different coping mechanisms are applied, accordingly. Finally, after stress evaluation and coping, consequences are observable in psychological and physiological reactions. Until recently, most empirical attention has been payed to the investigation of teaching-related stressors, teachers’ psychosomatic diseases and protective factors. Thereby, only high self-efficacy and realistic expectations at career beginning have been identified as key protectors avoiding psychosomatic symptoms (primarily headache and back pain; Abele & Candova, 2007).
However, to date there is only little knowledge, on effects of frequent changes in the educational system (i.e. reforms) on teachers’ mental health and on the coping mechanisms. First studies indicate, that introducing a reform causes additional stress, which, however, decreases in the course of the reform. Depending on teachers’ age, reforms are evaluated much more stressful by younger teachers as compared to more experienced teachers. These differences are mainly driven by different perceptions of performance pressure (Maué, Maag Merki & Oerke, 2012).
The introduction of new evidence-based policy in almost all European countries led to several educational reforms, i.e. school-inspections and educational standard policies in European countries. These changes give an opportunity to investigate teachers’ stress experience and the consequences of these experiences when educational reforms are implemented.
Abele, A.E., & Candova, A. (2007). Predicting Teachers' Stress Experience: Findings from a 4-Year Longitudinal Study, Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 21 (2), 107–118. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215. Borkenau, P. & Ostendorf, F. (1993). NEO-Fünf-Faktoren-Inventar (NEO-FFI) nach Costa und McCrae (S. 5–10, 27–28). Hogrefe. de Heus, P., Diekstra, René F. W. (1999). Do teachers burn out more easily? A comparison of teachers with other social professions on work stress and burnout symptoms. In R. Vandenberghe and M.A. Huberman (1999). Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A sourcebook of international research and practice (pp. 269-284). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press Kyracou, C., Sutcliffe, J. (1978). Teacher stress: Prevalence, sources and symptoms. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 48, 156-167. Lepine, J.A., Podsakoff, N.P., Lepine, M.A. (2005). A Meta-Analytic Test of the Challenge Stressor-Hindrance Stressor Framework: An Explanation for Inconsistent Relationships among Stressors and Performance. The Academy of Management Journal, 48, 764-775. Maué, E., Maag Merki, K. & Oerke, B. (2012). Emotionales Erleben des Zentralabiturs von Lehrpersonen in Bremen Längerfristige Effekte der Implementation zentraler Abiturprüfungen. In S. Hornberg & M. Parreira do Amaral (Hrsg.), Deregulierung im Bildungswesen (S. 109-130). Münster: Waxmann. McCormick, J., Ayres, P., & Beechey, B. (2006). Teaching self‐efficacy, stress and coping in a major curriculum reform: Applying theory to context", Journal of Educational Administration, 44, 53 – 70. Rudow, B. (1990). Konzepte zur Belastung und Beanspruchungsanalyse im Lehrerberuf. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 4, 1-12. Schaarschmidt, U. & Fischer, A. W. (1997). AVEM – ein diagnostisches Instrument zur Differenzierung von Typen gesundheitsrelevanten Verhaltens und Erlebens gegenüber der Arbeit. Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 18 (3), 151–163. Pithers, S., & Soden, R. (1998). Scottish and Australian teacher stress and strain: a comparative study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 68,269-279.
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