Stress Among Secondary School Teachers Under the Standard-Based Educational Reform: Development of Inventories and Factors Influencing Stress Change
The implementation of the 108 Curriculum Guidelines has increased the challenges and stress levels of secondary school teachers. Therefore, this study evaluated the stress levels of teachers and whether personal and school factors influenced changes in stress levels before and after the implementation of the 108 Curriculum Guidelines. Through focus-group discussions on the 108 Curriculum Guidelines, we developed the Inventory of Teacher Stress in Communication and Counseling (ITS-CC) and the Inventory of Teacher Stress in Curriculum and Instruction (ITS-CI). In addition, using the developed inventories, we explored the effects of several personal and school variables on teachers’ stress changes. A total of 205 junior and senior high school teachers were recruited as study participants. The main findings are as follows: (1) Both the inventories developed in this study have adequate reliability and validity. (2) The ITS-CC includes three factors: parent-teacher communication, colleague and student communication, and student counseling. (3) The ITS-CI includes two factors: standard-based curriculum and instruction and guidance for self-directed learning. (4) Teachers’ marital status, number of children, and the educational stages of teaching significantly affected the teachers’ stress changes. Overall, secondary school teachers experienced different types and levels of stress. In conclusion, the inventories developed in this study are valid instruments for understanding teachers’ stress and related factors under the current educational reform. Additionally, the study findings can serve as a reference for further improvement of the 108 Curriculum Guidelines.
The implementation of the 108 Curriculum Guidelines has increased the challenges and stress levels of secondary school teachers. These teachers are required not only to respond to the needs of innovation, redesign competency-oriented courses and teaching, and develop self-directed learning courses but also to conduct counseling and communicate with parents about the new curriculum guidelines. Moreover, studies have found that secondary school teachers with different backgrounds experienced different types of stress (e.g., Bottiani et al., 2019; Chen, 2010; Li & Cheng, 2013; Yeh et al., 2017). Therefore, this study investigated the stress levels of secondary school teachers with the implementation of the educational reform. Additionally, this study explored the effects of different demographic variables (including gender, education level, marital status, children, job title, school size, and educational stages of teaching) on the changes in stress levels before and after the educational reform.
Teaching is an occupation involving high levels of stress. Studies have reported that teachers experience moderate-to-high levels of work stress (Harmsen et al., 2018; Johnson et al., 2005; Näring et al., 2006). Notably, educational reforms may exacerbate such stress and be new sources of stress to teachers (Zhang et al., 2018).
Based on the content and educational goals of the educational reform, we categorized the stress experienced by secondary school teachers into two types: curriculum and teaching as well as counseling and communication. The first category includes stress related to teaching progress, curriculum design, learning assessment, and planning of self-directed learning, and the second category includes stress related to interpersonal relationships, parent-teacher communication, and student counseling. Most teacher stress scales have been developed more than 5 years ago and do not include new problems experienced by teachers in the current educational reform. Therefore, in this study, we developed the Inventory of Teacher Stress in Communication and Counseling (ITS-CC) and the Inventory of Teacher Stress in Curriculum and Instruction (ITS-CI).
Many studies have demonstrated that teachers at different school levels experience varied levels of stress (Chen, 2010; Huang, 2015). Compared with teachers in junior high schools, those in senior high school reported a heavier workload caused by offering elective courses, assisting students with academic portfolios, preparing self-directed learning plans (Ministry of Education, 2014), and others. In addition, empirical research indicates that secondary school teachers with different backgrounds experience varying levels of stress, with gender (Bottiani et al., 2019), marital status (Li & Cheng, 2013), work positions (Yeh et al., 2017), and school size (Bai & Lai, 2014) playing crucial roles. Thus, this study analyzed the effects of several personal and school variables on stress changes of secondary school teachers before and after the new educational reform.
We first invited six expert teachers to participate in focus-group discussions for determining sources of teacher stress from different perspectives. Based on their responses, we developed two preliminary stress inventories. Then, we recruited 205 secondary school teachers to participate in the investigation study. Participants included 56 male teachers (27%) and 146 female teachers (71%); the gender of 3 teachers was confidential (2%). The instruments used for evaluation included the ITS-CC and ITS-CI. The demographic variables included were gender, educational level, marital status, number of children, job title, school size, and the educational stages of teaching. Item analysis, exploratory factor analysis, internal consistency reliability analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, chi-square test, and repeated measures were performed using IBM SPSS Statistics and AMOS for Windows, version 19. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of National Chengchi University, Taiwan, and written informed consent was obtained from all participants.
Results and Discussion
The ITS-CC includes three factors: parent-teacher communication, colleague and student communication, and student counseling. ITS-CI includes two factors: standard-based curriculum and instruction and guidance of self-directed learning. Both the inventories had adequate reliability and validity; the Cronbach’s alpha of both inventories was .93.
Regarding the stress levels, the results indicated that secondary school teachers experienced a moderate-to-high level of stress, which is consistent with previous findings (Harmsen et al., 2013; Kovess-Masféty et al., 2006; Näring et al., 2006). Additionally, according to the ITS-CI and ITS-CC, teachers’ stress levels significantly increased after the implementation of the 108 Curriculum Guidelines. These results are in line with a previous finding that when new curriculum guidelines are implemented, teachers are required to expend more efforts to guide students to become more autonomous learners, pay more attention to students’ learning process, and provide more counseling (Qiu, 2017). The results of this study also indicated that teachers’ marital status, number of children, and the educational stages of teaching significantly affected the teachers’ stress change, whereas gender, education level, job title, or school size had no such effects.
Conclusion and Suggestions
The inventories developed in this study are valid instruments for understanding teachers’ stress and related factors with the implementation of the current educational reform. Both the inventories have adequate reliability and validity. We also determined the impact of potential demographic variables on teacher stress with the implementation of the current educational reform. Finally, we found that the stress levels of secondary school teachers significantly increased after the educational reform. Education authorities should help teachers reduce stress and increase their coping ability through workshops or training courses. The findings of this study can serve as a reference for improving the new curriculum guidelines.
|關鍵詞||中學教師、素養導向教育、教師壓力、新課綱、secondary school teachers、competency-based instruction、teacher stress、new curriculum guidelines|