Exploring the Individual Contributory Personality Factors of Stress: A Survey of Wahington State Elementary Teachers
Dean, Effie Jane
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EXPLORING THE INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTORY PERSONALITY FACTORS OF STRESS: A SURVEY OF WASHINGTON STATE ELEMENTARY TEACHERS Abstract by Effie J. Dean, Ed. D. Washington State University December 2010 Chair: Gordon Gates Prolonged stress is shown to lead to low productivity, which is one of the leading causes of poor performance, and high absenteeism/turnover in occupational fields (Norton, 2002). The field of education is a prime example of low productivity resulting from prolonged stress (Norton, 2002). Currently, there are many existing studies on environmental stress factors that lead to teacher stress, while few studies have examined the link between stress and individual personality factors. Even harder to find is data on the connection of stress specific to teachers' personalities. Research is needed to investigate the strength of the correlation between the individual factors of personality and perceived stress in teachers. This study was guided by three purposes. First, the study reported measures of occupational commitment, locus of control, and perceived stress for a random sample of elementary teachers selected from schools in Washington State. Other descriptive variables including teacher demographic information (i.e. gender and years of service) as well as measurements on their schools (i.e. student passing rates on the Fourth grade Reading, Writing, Math Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), average number of students per classroom, percentage of students per race, percent of students in special programs, and percentage of students qualified for free and reduced price meals), were also examined and presented as well. The second purpose of the study was to examine the bivariate correlations between the various variables of interest as identified in the review of literature. Finally, the study sought to determine which set of personality variables best predicted reported levels of teacher stress using regression analysis to assess the unique contribution of each of the independent variables entered into the model with the dependent measure of teacher stress. Three hundred and eighty randomly selected Washington State Elementary Teachers were invited to complete a survey consisting of the Perceived Stress Survey (PSS), Teachers' Occupational Commitment Scale (TOCS), and Work Locus of Control Scale (WLOCS). Results indicated that there were significant correlations between low stress and high levels of occupational commitment and locus of control in teachers. A strong correlation between occupational commitment and locus of control was found to exist as well. Both of these traits, as well as the male gender, were all found to be significant predictors of low stress. Replications of this study are recommended to verify its findings.