Advisor

Ellen Skinner

Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology

Department

Psychology

Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 187 p.) : col. ill.

Subjects

Teachers -- Job stress, Stress management, Stress (Psychology) -- Prevention

DOI

10.15760/etd.809

Abstract

Teaching is stressful. The demands placed on teachers can result in emotional exhaustion and burnout, causing many to leave the profession. Teachers early in their careers seem to be at special risk, with desistence rates estimated as high as 40% in the first five years. This study was based on the notion that constructive coping can be a resource for teachers, and that teachers later in their professional lives may provide a model for adaptive ways of dealing with professional demands. The goal of the study was to examine whether the coping process utilized by teachers (including reported demands, appraisals, ways of coping, resolutions, and post-coping assessment) differed at different stages of their career. Participants (n = 57) were teachers (90% female) ranging in age from 28-63, teaching in grades 4 to 12. The current study utilized a portion of the baseline open-ended interview of a randomized waitlist control study conducted to explore the effects of a mindfulness-based program. After coding the interview data for each step of the coping process, frequency analyses revealed that: (1) as in previous studies, the most frequently reported demands were problems with students (40%), followed by workload (18%) and parents (15%); (2) the most frequently reported appraisal was extreme negative emotion (44%); (3) the most frequently reported ways of coping were adaptive, including problem-solving (65%), support seeking (35%), and self regulation (22%); (4) the most frequently reported resolution of the stressful episode was successful (51%); and (5) with regards to post coping assessment, teachers most frequently reported that they would do something differently in future episodes if they could (54%). A series of Chi-square analyses to explore whether there is an association between how the teachers responded to questions corresponding to each step revealed that (1) teachers who reported parents as a demand in teaching were more likely to report extreme negative emotion and the use of self-regulation, which was associated with a successful resolution; (2) teachers who reported the administration as a demand were also more likely to use support seeking as a way of coping; and (3) teachers who reported using more maladaptive ways of coping were also more likely to report an unsuccessful resolution. Finally, pairwise comparisons to determine which groups of teachers differed from each other showed that, in keeping with expectations, early career teachers reported "no negative emotion" less and "extreme negative emotion" more than other groups, while late career teachers mentioned "no negative emotion" more. In terms of demands, early career teachers mentioned the environment less whereas late career teachers mentioned parents less and students more often. In terms of coping, late career teachers reported using self-regulation less and cognitive accommodation more than the other groups. Finally, early career teachers were more likely to say that they would try different effective strategies in future coping episodes while late career teachers were less likely to report that they would do so. Applications of these findings are discussed for process-oriented theories of teacher stress and coping, for future studies examining how coping develops over the course of a professional career, and for preservice training and school-based interventions designed to promote adaptive coping for teachers at every phase of their profession.

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/8503

Share

COinS