Quantitative Article-Reducing Teacher Stress
Bertoch, M. R., Mielsen, E. C., Curley, J. R., and Borg, W. R. (1988). Reducing Teacher Stress. Journal of Experimental Education, 57(1), 117–128.
Provide a general statement of the problem that includes the variables and the relationships between them.
|This experiment was to test a prototype treatment developed to significantly reduce symptoms of stress among in service teachers. Participants were assessed on environmental, personality and emotional variables.
This experimental treatment was holistic, incorporating all processes previously found to be related to reducing teacher stress by using self-report and expect-judge measures, at both pre- and post treatment.
State the importance of the study.
|This study reflects the author’s concern with the serious threat to teacher mental health caused by occupational stress. There were substantial amount of descriptive and correlation research regarding teacher stress revealed by ERIC database but no report of projects that used experimental design to evaluate the validity of stress reduction treatments by demonstrating reductions in stress symptomatology.
Also these studies are frequently restricted because of research design characteristics and theoretical limitations.
Thus this study is important to holistically develop and evaluate a prototype treatment focused on the apparent causal factors of stress, utilizing the most promising treatment strategies that have emerged from previous research to effectively reduce teacher stress.
Review of the Literature
List the major issues identified in the review.
|One of the major issue identified in this review was many of the variables were identified by previous research that have stress-inducing potential.
Selye’s (1956) establishment of a final common pathway of physiologic responses evoked by stressful events has provided an anchor for a body of theory and research directed toward identifying unique “evocative agents” that result in stress.
However, a critical mass of knowledge seems to have been achieved in recent years. This knowledge has allowed several integrative paradigms to emerge. (Derogatis, 1987; Lazarus, 1966, 1981; Osipow & Spokane 1983, Pettegrew & Wolf, 1982). These paradigms related many of the variables identified by previous research that have stress-inducing potential.
The other major issue identified in this review was the exact nature of the relationships among the interaction among the stress events taking place in the environment, the nature and intensity of resulting emotional responses, and personality characteristics of the individual is incompletely known.
The third issue identified was the emerging views of the concept of stress and the identification of stressors from many aspects of the teaching profession suggest the futility of trying to remediate teacher stress with a univariate intervention. Stress operates in many dimensions, and it is not always predictable.
Thus the author wanted to design and develop a prototype treatment program to significantly reduce symptoms of stress among in service teachers whose pretreatment assessment indicated high levels of stress.
The author believes that stress management must be conceived and implemented from a holistic perspective with consideration of many research- and theory-based sources of stressors. Similarly, the authors believe that interventions would be enhanced by incorporation of all processes previously found to be effective in reducing teacher stress.
State the specific hypothesis or hypotheses being investigated.
(a) there will be no difference between the stress level of teachers who complete the experimental treatment and comparable control group teachers
(b) there will be no difference between the pre- and post treatment stress level of teachers who complete the experimental treatment.
Identify the population and sample.
|The population in this experiment was 30 public school teachers from middle and high schools in northern Utah.
The 30 teachers who scored in the top 30 on a screening measure indicating stress level were elected as samples and they were randomly assigned to treatment group (n=15) who are exposed to the treatment and control group (n=15) who do not receive any treatment.
Describe the sampling and/or assignment procedures.
|The sampling procedures consists of three-stage processes:
(a) Teachers submitted an application after a presentation about the program at school faculty meetings.
(b) Teachers who scored in the top 30 on a screening measure indicating stress level were selected as samples.
(c) The 30 samples were then randomly assigned to treatment (n = 15) or control (n = 15) group.
Identify the size of the total sample and of each group if applicable.
|The 30 samples were randomly assigned into 2 groups which are treatment and control group, each group consists of 15 samples.|
Describe the general characteristics of the subjects.
|The 2 groups of subjects are having some same characteristics like the number of males/ females in both groups is 6/9. All of them are Caucasian with average age 38.1 and none of them is non-prescription drug user.
Some similar characteristics were identified in subjects such as average years of teaching experience is 9.5 for treatment group and 9.1 for control group; number of schools of employment is 2.1 and 2.2 for treatment and control group respectively; the average years of spouse employed for treatment group is 9.2 and 9.5 for control group.
The 15 subjects in treatment group are married; control group has 13 subjects who are married and 2 divorced.
Subjects in treatment group have an average of 2.5 children but control group have 3.1 children. The treatment group has a higher percentage in previous mental health care which is 27% compared to 20% in the control group.
The subjects in control group have higher percentage than treatment group in a few areas, for examples: the percentage of spouses employed in control group is 73% compare to 60% in treatment group and alcohol used in control group is 40% which is 13% higher than the treatment group.
List the specific instruments used in the study.
|The study used multiple measures of stress as recommended by Bergin and Lambert’s (1978) review of therapeutic outcome research.
1) Treatment sessions
The 12 2-hour sessions used various processes including lecture- discussion, small group sharing of progress and problems, audiovisual presentations, written test evaluations, and homework. Two experienced clinical psychologists conducted the treatment sessions. Activities from the past weeks were reviewed at the beginning of each session.
2) The Structured Clinical Stress Interview (SCSI)
This interview is to cover participants’ current or recent stressors, environmental context and possible precipitants, behavioral and physical symptoms, and self-rating of stress level.
3) Self-Report Measures
Used three self-report measures to assess stress level across 39 variables which are the Derogatis Stress Profile (DSP; Derogatis, 1987), the Occupational Stress Inventory (OSI; Osipow & Spokane, 1983), and the Teacher Stress Measure (TSM; Pettegrew & Wolf, 1982).
Describe the evidence of validity provided for each instrument.
|1) Treatment sessions
The evidence of validity for this instrument is the participants, clinicians and an independent rater completed the ratings. Participants completed a pre- and posttreatment test battery and videotaped clinical interviews. The researcher collected the follow-up data upon commencement of the replication phase.
2) The Structured Clinical Stress Interview (SCSI)
The evidence of validity provided in this instrument is the interviews were conducted during the week before and after the treatment. The interviewers were blind to group assignment at the pretest but not at the posttest, since the clinicians were involved in the treatment (fiscal restraints prohibited independent interviewers).
3) Self-Report Measures
Some evidence of construct and concurrent validity was also reported in this instrument.
The DSP consists of 77 items that assess stress levels in environmental personality, and emotional domains. The developers reported alpha reliabilities on 11 subscales ranging from .79 to .99. Test-retest coefficients ranged from .79 to .93 on the subjects and was .90 for total scores.
The OSI consists of 140 items that assess stress levels in three dimensions of occupational adjustment: occupational stress, psychological strain, at coping resources. The developers reported alpha reliabilities on the three dimensions of .89, .94, and .99, respectively, and on the 14 subscales from .71 to 94. Two-week test-retest coefficients from .88 to .94 were reported on the three dimensions, and from .56 to .94 on the individual scales.
The TSM consists of 70 items that assess stress levels on 14 variables. The author reported alpha reliability coefficients ranging from .57 to .91. Median reliability was .82 with only two scales below .75.
Describe the reliability evidence cited for each instrument.
|1) Treatment sessions
Participants completed a pre- and posttreatment test battery and videotaped clinical interviews. The researcher collected the follow-up data upon commencement of the replication phase.
2) The Structured Clinical Stress Interview (SCSI)
A third clinician with more than 35 years of experience, blind to groups and sequence, rated a random sample of pre- and posttest interviews taps (n = 16) on the SCSI to provide a reliability check. Videotapes of four pre- and four posttreatment interviews (SCSI) with the two clinicians were collapsed into a single group to provide an adequate number of cases.
The correlations with the independent clinician’s ratings yielded an r = .66 represents a minimum estimate of interrater reliability because the sample of interviews was divided between the two clinicians.
3) Self-Report Measures
The developers reported alpha reliabilities on 11 subscales in DSP ranging from .79 to .99. Test-retest coefficients ranged from .79 to .93 on the subjects and was .90 for total scores.
In OSI, the developers reported alpha reliabilities on the three dimensions of .89, .94, and .99, respectively, and on the 14 subscales from .71 to 94. Two-week test-retest coefficients from .88 to .94 were reported on the three dimensions, and from .56 to .94 on the individual scales.
The author reported alpha reliability coefficients in TSM which ranging from .57 to .91. Median reliability was .82 with only two scales below .75.
Cronbach’s alpha measures how well a set of items measures a single construct. Alpha coefficient ranges in value from 0 to 1 and the higher scores, the more reliable is the scale. Nunnaly (1978) has indicated that 0.7 to be an acceptable reliability coefficient so most of the alpha reliabilities in this Self- report measures are higher than the acceptable reliability coefficient.
Describe the information needed to interpret the scores for each instrument.
|Each self-report measure and the SCSI yielded total scores based on a 5-point (SCSI, DSP, OSI) or 6-point (TSM) scale.
These total scores were used to provide the main indices of change in teacher stress.
Correlations were computed between pretest scores across groups (N = 30). Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (95% CI) were determined based on Fisher’s Z transformations used to provide a normal distribution.
The correlations ranging from .56 to .72, suggesting that the measures are moderately correlated but do not all measure the same construct. Correlations between the SCSI and the DSP, OSI, and TSM were moderate and consistent at .58, .56, and .57, respectively.
Design & Procedure
Identify the specific type of research design.
|This quantitative research is a Before-After Research design that incorporated both an experimental and control group which the subjects are randomly assigned and the dependent variable is measured before and after the treatment.|
Identify any threats to internal validity.
|This study used random assignment to enhance the internal validity. Thirty subjects were selected for high stress levels were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. They were assessed on environmental, personality and emotion variables, using self-report and expect-judge measures, at both pre- and posttreatment.
These two groups are equivalent where the subjects are having similar characteristics, such as number of males/females, similar age, similar years of teaching experience, similar teaching background in public schools both middle and high schools.
This is to ensure the results the researcher obtained are caused by the treatment the researcher administered and not some other variables or factors.
Identify any threats to external validity.
Identify the specific comparisons or relationships being examined.
|The researcher examined the comparisons of stress levels of participants who completed the treatment and a comparable control group.
The researcher also examined the comparison of the pre- and posttest stress levels of participants who received the treatment.
The subscores obtained from the self-report measures were examined between groups on posttreatment means scores with pretreatment scores.
Identify any descriptive statistics and summarize the results.
|At posttreatment, the treatment group averaged 1.02 standard deviations lower on the stress measures than the control group.
Significant differences in the posttest means between experimental and control, were found for 23 of the 39 variables measured on the three self-report instruments. As a group, the participants demonstrated substantially lower stress levels than the control group after the treatment, with a substantial decrease from their pretreatment stress levels.
Since the control group received no treatment, some of the difference may be due to Hawthorne effect.
The relative stability of the control group average scores suggests that regression to the mean may have occurred in the context of a more stressful posttreatment environment, thus not detectable in score changes. However, large differences in experimental group scores also suggests that gain associated with the treatment was not confounded with regression effects.
Identify the specific statistical test of significance, report the test statistic itself, and report its level of significance.
|In order to accept or reject the null hypotheses, the researcher analysed the data statistically to ensure that the treatment administered can produce a real effect in this study.
The first hypothesis, which predicted no differences between stress levels of participants who completed the treatment and a comparable control group was examined using analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) between-group posttest scores from the DSP, OSI, TSM and SCSI, with the pretest scores entered as covariates.
This statistically analysis allowed the slope relating the pretest and posttest to be estimated rather than forced to be 1, as when gain scores alone are used as the dependent variable, thus providing a more sensitive test due to reduced error variance (Hendrix, Carter, & Hintze, 1978; Linn & Slinde, 1977).
The second hypothesis, which produced no different between the pre- and posttest stress levels of participants who received the treatment, was examined using correlated means t tests. This analysis provided information on the direction of change (i.e., whether the treatment group improved or the control group deteriorated; see Table 3).
To determine whether the measures employed provided comparable data for assessing treatment effects, an effect size (ES) was computed for each measure. Finding were thus transformed into a common metric (standard deviation units), rendering an index of the magnitude of effect or change.
In order to provide information concerning differences between the experimental and control groups on the subscores obtained from the self report measures, ANCOVAs were computed between groups on posttreatment means scores with pretreatment scores entered as covariates.
This analysis, which indicated variables showing significant change at the posttest, will be used, along with data from participant feedback forms completed after each session, to suggest possible refinements in the treatment program and the instrumentation
Identify the specific conclusions of the researchers.
|The researcher concluded that the present study clearly demonstrates a reduction in teacher stress by subjects in the experimental treatment.
Significant differences in the posttest means between experimental and control, were found for 23 of the 39 variables measured on the three self-report instruments, many of which may be related to specific treatment content.
The researcher also found that treated participants scored significantly higher (i.e., less favorably) on the self-care and rational/cognitive coping subscales of the OSI after the treatment.
This finding correlates with comments from participants on feedback forms from later sessions may suggest that a sense of overload and need for integration may have been caused by the numerous methods employed reduce stress, paradoxically introducing a new source of stress.
Discuss the implications described by the researchers.
|From the feedback questionnaires, individual participant stressed different areas had most beneficial them. The reserachers suggests that increased reduction of stress in individual cases may be enhanced through idiographic pretreatment assessment and thus a more focused treatment is required to better meet the individual needs.
The researcher found that the process variables imbedded in the treatment package will require further research to determine whether specific factors emerge, thus allowing a better match to individual needs.
The researcher’s study addressed a need for remediation of teacher stress with a complex, multifaceted treatment package.
The researcher recommended further research to develop a treatment strategy that will vary specific aspects of the treatment with respect to subject variables to determine how to maximize stress reduction within teacher populations (Kazdin, 1980).
Follow-up assessment was suggested by the researcher to determine the durability of the reductions in stress over time are anticipated at approximately 6 months and 1 year, contingent upon grant funding for two replication phases allowing further investigation of important area.