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Title: Stress in teaching : a Scottish perspective
Author: Mulholland, Rosemary
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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A series of questionnaire surveys were conducted during 2004-2007 to explore teacher perception of 'stress in teaching' within the Scottish context. Study 1 comprised Secondary Teachers (N=400); Study 2 comprised Student-Teachers (N=197) and Study 3 comprised Inductee Teachers (N= 16). The main aims of the surveys were to explore (I) the extent to which Teachers perceive the profession as stressful; to examine (ii) the relationship between perception of stress in teaching and well being and identify (iii) factors which impact on perception of teaching as stressful. 'Stress' was conceptualised as a 'psychological state' (Cox & Ferguson, 1991) that could manifest itself at a physiological, psychological and behavioural level. The study was underpinned by an interactional model of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). This model places the teacher, their appraisal of demands and their own personal and professional resources, at the centre of the stress process. Data was gathered by means of survey questionnaires which included a range of validated instruments such as the General Health Questionniare-30 (Goldberg, 1978); the Glasgow Symptom Checklist (Mahmood, 1999) and the Placement Concerns Questionnaire (Murray-Harvey, 1999). To place the concept of'stress in teaching' within the Scottish context an additional range of instruments were designed to measure stress in teaching (Stress in Teaching Scale), general student stress (Stress in Students) and coping with stress in teaching (Coping with Stress in Teaching). In addition, Postgraduate Students (N=22) participated in semi-structured interviews following their final placement experience (2006). This group were followed into the induction year and completed questionnaires and email interviews during the time of the induction. Overall findings indicated that 92 per cent of Teachers, 79 per cent of Student Teacher and 31 per cent of Inductee Teachers perceived the profession as 'quite' to 'very stressful. Teachers perceived the 'Teaching Learning Interface' and in particular 'indiscipline' as a significant source of stress. Student Teachers cited 'Performance Evaluation'; 'Managing Workload' and 'Class Management' as 'stressful'. In contrast to fully fledged teachers, Inductee Teachers did not find any aspect of teaching such as 'Work Overload'; 'Professional Ethos'; 'Teaching Learning Interface' or 'Perceived Support' as stressful. Perception of stress in teaching and perception of well being varied significantly in relation to current role, age, years of teaching experience and level of study within Initial Teacher Education. One out of every two Middle Managers and Postgraduate Students perceived teaching as 'very stressful'. Moreover, during the course of this study both groups reported changes in well being which would warrant therapeutic intervention. This was especially apparent in relation to feelings of "Personal ineffectiveness' such as 'being unable to make decisions'. In contrast, when the Postgraduate cohort made the transition into, and though, the induction year they perceived teaching as significantly less stressful, and reported significantly less changes in normal levels of well being. In the case of Middle Managers, Postgraduate Students and Inductee Teachers differences in perception of stress in teaching were explained by the interaction between the demands of teaching such as 'Work Overload' and the 'Teaching Learning Interface', and a range of additional factors. For Middle Manager the impact of 'change' and issues pertaining to 'Professional Ethos' and 'Perceived Support', played a key role in their perception of teaching as stressful. Issues of efficacy associated with status of the PGDE course and others' expectations impacted on the Postgraduate Students' perception of teaching as stressful. The Inductee Teachers' perception of teaching as 'not stressful' was attributed to being situated in an 'enabling' professional context in which their personal and professional growth was generally supported. However, it is interesting to note that as Inductee Teachers perceived the 'Teaching Learning Interface' as significantly less stressful they also perceived teaching, as significantly less stressful. Within education there are growing concerns regarding teacher retention and recruitment. Therefore, it is concerning that within this Scottish context a significant proportion of middle managers and postgraduate students perceived teaching as very stressful and in addition experienced significant changes in well being that would normally be associated with a clinical population.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available