09 SES 04 A, Characteristics and Development of Teacher Competence and Training
Teaching is widely recognized as a stressful occupation (Kyriacou, 2001; Betoret, 2009; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2016). Teacher stress has a number of serious consequences, such as job dissatisfaction and lack of commitment to the profession, and burnout, among others (Betoret, 2006; Klassen & Chiu, 2011; Ingesoll & May, 2012). Besides, teacher well-being impacts quality of instruction and student outcomes (Pas, Bradshaw & Hershfeldt, 2012).
Further, stressful working environment may result in teacher attrition, as well as challenges for recruiting new teachers (Ingersoll, Merrill & May, 2016). Considering that the shortage of qualified teachers is a growing concern across Europe as well as internationally, identifying causes of teacher stress becomes an important issue (European Commission, 2013; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2016).
Knowing which factors in the teachers’ working environment are associated with teacher stress could help develop stress-coping strategies for teachers, which, in turn, may prevent teacher dissatisfaction with the job, and a risk of attrition (Kyriacou, 2001). Identifying teacher stressors could also inform policy and school organizational features targeted at stress reduction (ibid., 2001). This, in turn, should contribute to improving both instructional quality and student outcomes (Ingersol, 2003; Pas, Bradshaw & Hershfeldt, 2012). With this implication in mind, this study aims to identify potential stressors in teachers’ working environment and investigate their possible association with teacher job satisfaction and student achievement. It also purports to investigate whether some of the teacher factors can reduce the effect of stressors.
Teacher stress has been defined as teachers’ experience of negative emotions as a result of certain working conditions (Kyriakou & Sutcliffe, 1977). Such working conditions are often referred to as occupational ‘stressors’ (Betoret, 2006; Maslach & Jackson, 1981). Some of the most common stressors identified in the literature are student discipline and motivation problems, excessive workload and limited resources, poor relationship with colleagues and administration , the lack of teacher autonomy and school student body composition (Ingersoll, 2003; Guarino, Santibanez & Daley, 2006; Borman & Dowling, 2008; Betoret, 2009; Klassen & Chiu, 2011; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2016).
Teacher stress has an adverse impact on phychological, physiological and behavioral aspects of teachers’ lives: e.g. job dissatisfaction, health problems and absenteeism (Betoret, 2009). This study focuses on job satisfaction, which is defined as “a state of mind determined by the extent to which the individual perceives her/his job- related needs to be met” (Evans, 1997, p. 833). Teacher job dissatisfaction has been linked to teachers’ intent to leave the profession and attrition (Borman & Dowling, 2008; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2011).
Coping resources are those factors that help teachers reduce the negative effects of stressors, and can be internal or external (Blase cited in Betoret, 2009). While internal resources are related to personal characteristics, external ones may be social (colleagues or family) or didactic (e.g. teaching materials) (Betoret, 2009).
Among the internal coping resources examined in this study are teacher age, gender, experience and education. This study also investigates social coping resources, such as collegial cooperation. According to Kyriakou (2001), a high level of social support within a school contributes to a healthy organizational atmosphere, which helps minimize stress for its members, i.e. teachers.
This study uses data from the Swedish participation in IEA TIMSS 2011 for students in grade 8 and their mathematics teachers. Teacher perceptions of potential stressors in the school environment, teacher assessment of their satisfaction with the job and collegial cooperation, were retrieved from the international TIMSS database. In addition, teacher background variables, such as age, gender, as well as variables on teacher mathematics education and experience, were used. The number of semesters of mathematics training, teacher perception of student discipline and problems among teachers were Swedish national adaptations of the teacher background questionnaire. In the first step we identified five potential stressors in the TIMSS questionnaire, i.e. school security, school student body composition, material resources, problems among teachers, and student behavior and motivation, as perceived by teachers. Teacher perceptions of school security were reflected in the question: “To which extent would you agree with the statement e.g. “This school’s security policies are sufficient”, “I feel safe in this school?” Student behavior and motivation was measured by the question: “To what degree is e.g. fights among students a problem among 8th grade students in your school?”, ”To what extent do unmotivated students limit your teaching?”. Material resources were assessed in the question: “How serious is a problem of e.g. limited working space for teachers, lack of instructional supplies?”. Problems among teachers were tapped by the question “To what degree is e.g. poor relations among colleagues, lack of engagement among teachers a problem among teachers in your school?”. A classroom mean of the variables ‘books at home’ was used as a proxy for student body’s socio-economic composition. In the second step, we formulated latent measurement models of the potential teacher stressors. Further, measurement models of teacher job satisfaction and collegial cooperation were formulated. Teacher job satisfaction was measured by the items: e.g. “I am content with the teacher profession”, “I am satisfied with being a teacher at this school”. Collegial cooperation was tapped by the question: “How often do you e.g. share your teaching experiences with your colleagues, collaborate in preparing instructional materials?”. We then modeled the relations of teacher stressors to job satisfaction. The analytical methods used in this study were confirmatory factor analysis and a structural equation modeling. The analyses focused on the teachers’ level. Analyses were carried out in Mplus 8 program. Model fit was evaluated using recommended fit indices: Chi2 to df ratio, RMSEA, CFI and SRMR.
Latent measurement models of the potential teacher stressors obtained a good fit to the data. Results of the structural equation modeling showed that all of the teacher stressors related to teacher job satisfaction, albeit to a different extent. Student behavior and motivation problems had the strongest association with teacher dissatisfaction with their job. Preliminary analyses indicate that more experienced teachers and teachers with a larger amount of subject-matter education tended to experience more job satisfaction then their counterparts. Results also suggest that teacher collegial cooperation may moderate effects of stressful working conditions on job satisfaction. A potential of social support, e.g. collegial cooperation, to mitigate the stressors’ negative effect, will be examined more thoroughly. Another important issue to consider is whether teacher stress and the resulting job dissatisfaction is associated with student outcomes, i.e. student achievement scores. In light of Sweden’s improved results between 2011-2015, a further step in our analysis will explore how the teacher factors relate to this achievement gain. As cross-sectional design the TIMSS study may not allow for causal inferences, an advantage of the planned trend analysis would include a longitudinal component at the country level (Gustafsson, 2013). Finally, despite the fact that TIMSS questionnaire included a number of potential stressors, some of those included in the vast body of literature in the field could not be considered.
Betoret, F. D. (2006). Stressors, self‐efficacy, coping resources, and burnout among secondary school teachers in Spain. Educational psychology, 26(4), 519-539. Betoret, F. D. (2009). Self‐efficacy, school resources, job stressors and burnout among Spanish primary and secondary school teachers: a structural equation approach. Educational Psychology, 29(1), 45-68. Borman, G. D., & Dowling, N. M. (2008). Teacher attrition and retention: A meta-analytic and narrative review of the research. Review of educational research, 78(3), 367-409. European Commission (2013). Study on policy measures to improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession in Europe. Luxembourg: Publication office of the European Union. Evans, L. (1997). Understanding teacher morale and job satisfaction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13(8), 831-845. Guarino, C. M., Santibanez, L., & Daley, G. A. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of educational research, 76(2), 173-208. Gustafsson, J. E. (2013). Causal inference in educational effectiveness research: A comparison of three methods to investigate effects of homework on student achievement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 24(3), 275-295. Ingersoll, R. M., & Smith, T. M. (2003). The wrong solution to the teacher shortage. Educational leadership, 60(8), 30-33. Ingersoll, R. M., & May, H. (2012). The magnitude, destinations, and determinants of mathematics and science teacher turnover. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(4), 435-464. Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & May, H. (2016). Do Accountability Policies Push Teachers Out?. Educational Leadership, 73(8), 44-49. Klassen, R. M., & Chiu, M. M. (2010). Effects on teachers' self-efficacy and job satisfaction: Teacher gender, years of experience, and job stress. Journal of educational Psychology, 102(3), 741. Kyriacou, C., & Sutcliffe, J. (1977). Teacher stress: A review. Educational review, 29(4), 299-306. Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher stress: Directions for future research. Educational review, 53(1), 27-35. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of organizational behavior, 2(2), 99-113. Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., & Hershfeldt, P. A. (2012). Teacher-and school-level predictors of teacher efficacy and burnout: Identifying potential areas for support. Journal of school Psychology, 50(1), 129-145. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2011). Teacher job satisfaction and motivation to leave the teaching profession: Relations with school context, feeling of belonging, and emotional exhaustion. Teaching and teacher education, 27(6), 1029-1038. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2016). Teacher stress and teacher self-efficacy as predictors of engagement, emotional exhaustion, and motivation to leave the teaching profession. Creative Education, 7(13), 1785-1799.
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