Research questions, objectives and theoretical framework (600)

Teaching is
internationally recognized as one of the most stressful occupations (Montgomery
& Rupp, 2005). Teacher stress can result in a number of negative outcomes,
such as job dissatisfaction, reduced professional commitment, and increased
burnout levels, among others (Betoret, 2006). Further, the above factors may
lead to teachers’ intention to leave the profession and result in teacher
attrition (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2016). The notion of the teaching occupation
as a stressful one also effects its prestige and prevents new teachers from
entering the profession. Given that the shortage of qualified teachers is an
issue of utmost importance (Ingersoll, 2001) across Europe as well as internationally,
identifying causes of teacher stress becomes a crucial question.

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Knowing which factors
in the teachers’ working environment are associated with teacher stress, may
help develop strategies to help teachers cope with those factors, which, in
turn, may help prevent serious consequences such as teacher burnout and
consequent attrition.  With this implication
in mind, this study aims to identify potential stressors in a teachers’ working
environment and investigate their possible association with teacher burnout and
job satisfaction.

 

 

 

 

Theoretical framework

Teacher stress has been conceptualized as teachers’
experience of negative emotions as a result of certain working conditions (Liu
& Onwuegbuzie, 2012). Such working conditions have been termed as
‘stressors’ (Betoret, 2006). 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 lack of
support from the school administration (Friedman, 1995; Betoret, 2009; Klassen
& Chiu, 2011; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010). There are different
approaches to measure teacher stress in quantitative research (Skaalvik &
Skaalvik, 2011). One way is to ask teachers about perceived stressors/their amount
directly, while another way is identify which classroom/school factors may be
potential stressors for teachers and then ask teachers to what extent they
perceive these factors as problematic. The latter approach allows to further
statistically test to what extent each of the potential stressors is linked to
outcomes like teacher burnout, job satisfaction, etc. (Skaalvik & Skaalvik,
2011).

 

Burnout has been conceptualized as the feeling of emotional
exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment (Maslach
& Jackson, 1981; Maslach et al., 1996). Emotional exhaustion in teachers is
characterized by fatigue and low emotional energy. Emotional exhaustion leads
to teachers’ inability to dedicate themselves to the job the same way they used
to (Maslach et al., 1996). Depersonalization is characterized by negative
feelings and attitudes towards the students and colleagues (Skaalvik &
Skaalvik, 2010). Reduced personal accomplishment entails negative
self-evaluation of one’s job achievements (Maslach et al., 1996).

 

Teacher background
characteristics are important to consider when studying aspects of teacher
burnout. Previous research examined how gender, for example, was related to the
three aspects of burnout. It was found that men reported higher levels of
depersonalization, while women reported higher levels of emotional exhaustion
and reduced levels of personal accomplishment (Schwab et al., 1986). When it
comes to teacher’s age, younger teachers reported higher levels of emotional
exhaustion than did older teachers (Maslach et al., 1996). Results on the links
between years of teaching experience and aspects of burnout are mixed (Skaalvik
& Skaalvik, 2011), and further investigation of this area is needed.