Date of Award

3-1987

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Educational Administration

Major Professor

Robert K. Roney

Committee Members

Norma Mertz, Peter Husen, Charles Ball, Michael Logan

Abstract

Teachers in general and music teachers in particular face problems which make teaching stressful. The purpose of this study was to identify sources of stress for music teachers in Tennessee in the following categories: environmental stressors, job-related stressors, classroom management/student behavior stressors, interpersonal stressors, and personal stressors. Also identified were coping strategies used and found effective by teachers.

The study was designed to address the following questions:

1. What are the perceptions of a panel of experts regarding factors which cause stress for music teachers?

2. What factors which cause stress are common to teachers in all three music areas—general, choral, and instrumental?

3. What factors which cause stress are common to all levels of teaching in the three music areas?

4. What factors which cause stress are unique to each music area and teaching level?

5. Is there a difference in factors which cause stress as perceived by music teachers, as compared to the list generated by the panel of experts?

6. What are some effective ways teachers cope with stress in teaching?

7. Is there a relationship between factors which cause stress and the gender, years of teaching experience, and how likely teachers are to continue to teach?

8. Is there a relationship between factors which cause stress and the teaching area and teaching level of teachers in the survey?

9. Is there a relationship between stress and the coping strategies used by teachers?

The data were collected by means of a survey instrument. Teachers were selected by random sample from the 43 school systems which provided a list of music teachers. A total of 161 teachers participated in the survey. Frequencies and percentages were calculated for each item on the survey, and stress variables were ranked from high to low for the total sample and by teaching area, years of teaching experience, gender, and by the teachers’ response to the questions: How stressful is teaching? and, How likely are you to continue to be teaching in ten years’ time? A Pearson Product Moment correlation was used to determine correlation between stress variable groups and coping strategies and between the total stress score and the question: How stressful is teaching?, and How likely are you to be teaching in ten years’ time? Means and standard deviations were determined for each stress variable and for the stress and coping groups and the total stress and coping scores. The General Linear Model (GLM) was used to produce analysis of variance tables to determine the main effects of teaching area, teaching level, how likely teachers were to continue to teach, and the interactions of these variables. Analysis of variance was also used to determine the main effects of years of teaching experience, gender, and how likely teachers were to continue to teach.

The panel of expert and music teachers did not agree upon what was stressful to music teachers. The panel of experts ranked the following stress variables to be the most stressful to teachers: uncertainty about job, student load, class load, lack of planning time, number of school assignments, evaluation, paperwork/housekeeping, and inadequate school discipline policy. The most stressful items according to teachers were: inadequate salary, Career Ladder Program, unmotivated students, low status of the profession, and inadequate fringe benefits. Music teachers indicated that job-related stressors, i.e., those which reflect how teachers are valued by their school system and by the public were the most stressful, while the panel of experts indicated environmental stressors to be the most stressful.

General music teachers, the majority of whom were at the elementary and middle school/junior high levels, found evaluation, student load, class load, and planning/teaching for individual student needs to be more stressful than did choral and instrumental teachers. Choral music teachers indicated that concerts, noise, and festivals were more stressful than did general and instrumental teachers. Instrumental music teachers indicated that lack of materials/equipment and lack of promotion opportunities were more stressful than did general and choral music teachers. The most used and effective coping strategies for teachers were religion, reading, situational compartmentalization, diet and nutrition, deep breathing, muscle tension/relaxation, sports, aerobic exercise, crafts, and detachment, all of which are physical or psychological strategies. Chemical coping strategies were ranked very low by the majority of teachers.

Gender did not appear to be significantly related to the stress variables, but years of teaching experience was a significant variable. Stress items tended to be more stressful to inexperienced teachers, i.e., those who had taught less than 5 years. The future plans of teachers, i.e., how likely they were to continue to teach, was a significant variable in the analysis of environmental stress variables. Environmental factors were ranked higher by teachers who were likely to continue to teach, while job-related factors were ranked higher by teachers who were not likely to continue to teach.

Environmental, job-related, and classroom management/student behavior factors were moderately stressful for the three teaching areas, while interpersonal and personal factors were less stressful. Instrumental teachers found job-related and classroom management/student behavior factors to be more stressful than did general and choral music teachers. General music teachers found environmental, job-related, and classroom management/students behavior factors to be less stressful than did choral and instrumental music teachers, but ranked personal factors to be somewhat more stressful than did choral and instrumental teachers.

Teachers in low, moderate, and high stress groups tended to use some of the same coping strategies, but higher stress teachers used more coping strategies. The most used and effective coping strategies by low stress teachers were religion, reading, sports, and situational compartmentalization. High stress teachers added to this list aerobic exercise, crafts, and diet and nutrition. The Pearson Product Moment correlation procedure revealed no significant correlation between stress groups and coping groups,

Many teachers (36%) indicated that teaching was extremely stressful, and 59% indicated that it was moderately stressful. Individual teacher stress scores and total stress scores for each variable indicated that many aspects of teaching are quite stressful to many and at least moderately stressful to a majority of music teachers. The difference in perceptions of stress by teachers and by the panel of experts in music education gave evidence to the lack of communication between these groups and the need to address concerns of teachers.

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