14 SES 03 A, Immigrant Parents, Refugees and the Burden on Teachers: Contributions from Austria, Canada, Spain
The aim of this research project is to draw attention to the occupational burden on teachers and to provide evidence to various stakeholders and decision makers, especially in teacher training and education policy, in order to minimize teachers' professional performance problems. Various studies on teacher stress repeatedly show a very high occupational load (Barth, 1992; Hofinger, 2015). Teachers complain about the daily burden in their profession, which often cause serious health problems. These experiences are often in contrast to public or published opinion, which does not tend to give teachers good marks, but rather portrays them as privileged, “lazy” or “part-time workers” with three months of vacation (see Spenger, 2008; Rothland, 2016). This image also puts pressure on teachers and contributes to a degree of dissatisfaction, although serious studies certainly certify that teachers are perceived positively by the public. Many system constraints and prescriptions also make teachers sometimes despair and become resigned. In any case, the optimism and motivation that most people still have when they start their careers disappear relatively quickly and are replaced by frustration and demotivation. Many stressors, but also the lack of support systems and staff for teachers are likely to play a role here, though this is relativized by the powers that be (BIFIE, 2008; BIFIE, 2015).
Although there are already a number of even large-scale studies dealing with the subject, most are often only valid for other countries (Schaarschmidt, 2005; Schaarschmidt & Kieschke, 2007b; Skaalvik, 2009), or in their question and target group very limited, such as a study in the field of vocational teachers, or compulsory school teachers in Austria (Hotter, 2016).
It is also noticeable that in many studies the specific stress factors are only examined very generally and hardly specifically. This work should close this gap. The research project is very broad as a kind of screening procedure and should provide results as representative as possible, firstly for the province of Lower Austria. Following this, an Austria-wide survey is planned.
As part of this research project, humour has been given special attention as a stress and strain relief strategy because humour can be defined as a coping mechanism that allows a person to perceive as ironic aspects of a situation and allow for better coping with emotional conflicts or stressors.
In summary, the present project pursues the following goals:
• Survey of an actual status with regard to the workload of teachers
• Analysis of stress factors with regard to different variables
• Development of priority proposals for support and health promotion
• Provision of data for targeted teacher training
• Provision of empirical evidence as the basis for evidence-based, strategic, education-policy decisions and resource management
The present work is based on the following central research question: What occupational burdens are teachers of different types of schools exposed to, how do they deal with them and what measures would they consider relieving or supporting? Sub-research questions are specifically considered.
The following methodical procedure was chosen: First, a hermeneutic secondary analysis of relevant literature was carried out in order to obtain an overview of the previous research and data. It showed that a detailed survey of possible stressors, especially for the Austrian school environment, was not available in the desired form and in detail. For this reason, it was decided to create a (very precise) questionnaire for exactly these factors. Subsequently, a series of qualitative-empirical guided intensive interviews were conducted with selected teachers of different types of schools (N = 15) to gain deeper insight into the stress experienced by teachers and to provide a good basis for the quantitative questionnaire to be compiled. The qualitative interviews were evaluated by content analysis. Subsequently, the quantitative-empirical questionnaire was developed, which was based on literature, but also on other studies and the results of the intensive interviews. The questionnaire consisted of a total of 330 items. Special attention was paid to the following areas: mental and physical stress, working time and other workloads, administrative burden, legal requirements, school environment and working conditions, resources and support systems, student behaviour, school partnership, management style of supervisors, team problems, school climate and social prestige of the teaching profession. For the development of the humour-specific questions within the research project, tried and tested measuring instruments (Katschnig, 2004; Ruch, 1998; Humor Immersion Training, 1998; Ruch & Heintz, 2016) were subsequently modified and coordinated with the questions surrounding the stress experience of the teachers. The next step was a series of group discussions in seminars at the Pedagogical University of Lower Austria. This also resulted in some adaptations. Subsequently, the questionnaire was submitted to a panel of experts. After further revision of the test instrument, it was submitted in January and February 2018 to 250 teachers from all types of schools as a paper-pencil test for pre-testing. This was followed by the main electronic testing of teachers from all types of schools and grades with a focus on teachers from the federal state of Lower Austria. In total, 4,562 teachers completed the questionnaire in the Lime Survey system. The evaluation was based on classical statistical procedures (descriptive and inference statistical methods). In advance, Prior approval of the Provincial School Council for Lower Austria of course was obtained for questioning.
As this is evaluative basic research in practice for practice (hence also applied research), this study gives answers to the following questions 1. What is the burden on teachers in relation to their profession and to what extent? 2. Does the level of stress differ depending on various variables, such as gender, relationship status, age, seniority, school type, school location, school size, extent of teaching commitment per week, service law? 3. How do teachers deal with stress or strain and which coping strategies do they have? 4. What expectations do teachers have of the "school system" in terms of reducing their workload? 5. What role does humour play as a relief strategy for stress and strain in the teaching profession? The results are partly surprising, but also confirm relevant empirical findings in many areas. Firstly, the results should give those affected (teachers) the opportunity to articulate their sensitivities and needs. In addition, the data obtained should contribute to improving the situation and thus also the performance of teachers and students insofar as the results are made available to decision makers in the school system for implementing evidence-based support measures. The results of this study will be connected with the results of international studies in this area.
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