Coping with stress

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Coping with stress

  1. 1. The relationship between prospective teachers’ strategies for coping with stress and their perceptions of student control Nuri Baloglu Ahi Evran University, Kırşehir, Turkey The relationship between prospective teachers’ preferred strategies for coping with stress and their perceptions of student control were examined by use of a relational survey model to determine the relations between these concepts. The study group consisted of 267 prospective teachers at the Faculty of Education in Kırşehir, Turkey. Data were collected from senior class faculty students using 2 scales: The Ways of Coping Scale (WCS) originally developed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and adapted into Turkish by Şahin and Durak (1994) and the Scale of Locus of Student Control developed by Miller et al. (1988) and adapted into Turkish by Abacı (1996). Pearson moment correlation was used to analyze the data. Findings showed that there was a noticeable meaningful statistical relation between variables. Findings are discussed based on the literature. Keywords: prospective teachers, stress-coping strategies, student control, perceptions. Stress among teachers has been studied by Kyriacou (1980) and by Dunham (1986). Coping is defined as a process in which personal resources are used to manage tension-generating events in efforts to maintain or enhance feelings of well-being (Ellis & Greiger, 1977). As Lazarus and Folkman defined it (1984), coping is the process of constantly changing behaviors or cognitive perceptions, or both, to control, lessen, or endure external conditions, internal conditions, or both, which are viewed as stressful by the individual. Goss (2001) suggested that workplace counseling may have a role to play in helping teachers cope with their stress. Those teachers who are accustomed to reflecting on their practice should be more able to develop positive coping SOCIAL BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY, 2008, 36(7), 903-910 © Society for Personality Research (Inc.) 903 Nuri Baloglu, PhD, Faculty of Education, Ahi Evran University, Kırşehir, Turkey. Appreciation is due to anonymous reviewers. Please address correspondence and reprint requests to: Nuri Baloglu, PhD, Faculty of Education, Ahi Evran University, Egitim Fakültesi Terme Cad., Merkez, Kırşehir 40100, Turkey. Phone: +90 386 2114371; Fax: +90 386 2134513; Email: baloglu@gazi.edu.tr
  2. 2. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL904 strategies at work than other professionals (Wilson, 2002). Different types of stress are differentially related to work outcomes yet are positively related to psychological strain (Boswell, Olson-Buchanan, & LePine, 2004). Different people find help in different coping strategies (Everard & Morris, 2003). Locus of control theory is a concept in both psychology and sociology. Individuals with an internal locus of control believe they are in control of events in their lives. They experience more success in coping with stressful situations than do those who attribute the outcomes of the events in their lives to outside sources such as fate or luck (Chandler, 1985; Linn & Hodge, 1982). The situational and dispositional coping styles are related to each other. People tend to use relatively stable coping styles both in general and in specific events. Personality traits are moderately related with coping and this finding indicates that the constructs are different from each other (Ekşi, 2004). Numerous studies have been carried out during the last 30 years of various relationships between control ideology and a number of other variables such as climate, organizational health, and personality. Glasser (1986) identified two types of teachers: Boss teachers, who depend on the rules and consequences method and use rewards and punishment to get students to do what the teachers want, and lead teachers who, on the other hand, make aligning lessons and assignments with students’ basic needs their primary business. In this way, they avoid the necessity of a reward system. A grading system is used for assessment, but only as a temporary indicator, not a reward. Ideally, the students are engaged, deeply motivated learners, and not just children completing busy work and predetermined requirements. Brophy (1988) hypothesized the existence of two conceptions of classroom control that are alternatives to those based on effective teaching and management. These two alternative conceptions, either overly authoritarian or overly nurturing, could be the source of difficulties for new teachers. Classroom management and student discipline continue to be the most commonly expressed concerns among teachers, parents, school administrators, and students (Bowman, 2001; Cangelosi, 2004). In the literature, although there has been much research into teacher stress (Arikewuyo, 2004; Kyriacou, 1987; McConaghy, 1992; Okebukola & Jegede, 1992) and the locus of control of teachers, there is no study about the relationship between prospective teachers’ strategies for coping with stress and their perceived student control style. Therefore this study was conducted in order to explore and obtain some understanding of this relationship.
  3. 3. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL 905 Method Research Model The research was based on a relationship survey model designed to provide some understanding of the relationships between prospective teachers’ preferred strategies for coping with stress and their perceptions of student control. Relational survey models are designed to identify the existence or level of coordinate change between two or more variables. Participants The sample was obtained from departments of a Faculty of Education using the stratified cluster sampling method. The participants included only willing students from the Faculty of Education in Kırşehir, Turkey − 267 prospective teachers who were senior class students in four departments (Turkish, Social Studies, Science, and Classroom Teachers) formed the sample of this research. Instruments To define the relations between ways of coping with stress and perceived locus of student control, two scales were used. The Ways of Coping Scale (WCS) is a 4-point Likert-type scale, originally developed by Lazarus and Folkman (1984). The scale was adapted for the Turkish culture and shortened to 30 items by Şahin and Durak (1994). Factor analyses revealed 5 factors, namely, Self-confident approach (α = .80), Helpless approach (α = .73), Submissive approach (α = .70), Optimistic approach (α = .68), and Receiving social support (α = .47). The Scale of Locus of Student Control (SLCC) is a 20-item 5-point Likert- type scale (Miller et al., 1988). This scale was adapted for the Turkish culture by Abacı (1994). Factor analyses revealed four factors: authoritarian attitude, ruler attitude, helping students, supporting students. To define the factor structure of the SLCC techniques of Kaiser Meyer Oklin = .83 and Bartlett Analysis (p < .01) were used. Varimax rotation was used for factor analysis. It was found that SPM was one dimension and factor loadings ranged from 0.31 and 0.69. The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient was found to be α = .74 for the whole scale. For the subgroups it was found to range from .70 to .89. Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was calculated in order to establish reliabilities of the instruments (Karadağ, 2007). Data Collection and Analysis Data in the research were gathered from 267 student teachers (senior class) at the Educational Faculty in Kırşehir, Turkey. The Pearson moment correlation technique was used to analyze data to determine whether or not there was a relationship between prospective teachers’ coping with stress and their perceived locus of student control.
  4. 4. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL906 Results The findings from correlation analysis of the relationships between prospective teachers’ coping strategies and their perceptions of student control are given in Table 1. Table 1 Pearson Moment Correlation Analysis of the Relationship Between Prospective Teachers’ Preferred Strategies for Coping with Stress and Their Perceptions of Student Control 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Ways of Coping with Stress 1 Self-confident approach - 2 Helpless approach .301** - 3 Submissive approach .241** .340** - 4 Optimistic approach .227** .288** .350** - 5 Receiving social support .150* .222** .215** .464** - Locus of Student Control 6 Authoritarian attitude .048 -.018 -.124* -.093 -.010 - 7 Supporting the students .058 -.121* .002 -.023 .064 .141* - 8 Helping the students .005 -.003 .009 .017 -.033 .117 .218** - 9 Ruler attitude .017 .196** .123* .034 .105 .216** .408** .173** - N = 267 * p < .05; ** p < .01 Table 1 shows the results of Pearson product-moment correlation between stress management and perceived locus of student control. Table 1 shows that there is a statistically meaningful negative relationship (r = -.121) between the Helpless approach to coping with stress and the dimension of Supporting attitudes in the perceived student control. There is also a statistically meaningful positive relationship (r = .196) between the Helpless approach to coping and the Ruler attitude in perceived student control. That is, Pearson correlation indicates that there is a negative relation between the Helpless approach to stress and Supporting the students in student control and a positive linear relationship between the Helpless approach to stress and the Ruler attitude in student control. To the extent that the prospective teachers used the Helpless approach in order to cope with stress, their perceptions of helping the students (in student control) decreased and, to the extent that they used the Helpless approach their Ruler attitude increased. For the other aspects of coping strategies and perceived locus of student control, no significant correlation (p > .05) was found.
  5. 5. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL 907 Discussion Stress is defined by Güçlü (2001) as a neutral physiological phenomenon, in terms of the nonspecific response of the human body to any demand. Stress might be positive or negative, a stimulus or a threat. It is necessary to cope with stress in order to protect the health of both body and mind (Pehlivan, 2000). In the present study findings show that prospective teachers mostly prefer the Helpless approach in order to cope with stress. Dealing with stress, or coping, is defined by Lazarus and Folkman (1984) as a process aimed at the management of external and internal demands which are appraised to be severely taxing or even exceeding an individual’s resources. Additionally, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) suggested that there are two broad functions of coping − namely, emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping refers to efforts to regulate an emotional response and ultimately alleviate emotional symptoms of distress, specifically through an increase in tolerance for negative events, or the stabilization of emotional balance (Cohen & Lazarus, 1973). Problem-focused coping, on the other hand, describes actions or cognitions dealing with, or altering, the source of stress itself (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980) − that is, the minimization of harmful environmental aspects. According to the researchers, employment of emotion- focused versus problem-focused coping depends on an individual’s perception and appraisal of the situation at hand. In the process of a potentially stressful encounter, different types of appraisals are employed: Primary appraisal refers to an evaluation of the situational characteristics. An individual may evaluate any situation as being irrelevant, benign, or stressful with respect to his or her own well-being. In a second step within primary appraisal, a potentially stressful situation is evaluated as involving either harm-loss, threat, or challenge. In this study it is shown that prospective teachers prefer an emotion-focused coping strategy. In many studies, it has been shown that college students mostly use the Helpless approach as a coping strategy (Morris, Brooks, & May, 2003; Zurlo, Pes, & Cooper, 2007). Park,Armeli, and Tennen (2004) noted that among different motives underlying college students’ alcohol use, inability to cope with stress is believed to be most closely linked with the development of problem drinking and the failure to mature out of heavy drinking following graduation. However, much of what is known about stress and alcohol use among college students comes from studies that reveal little about the fast-moving, intraindividual processes outlined in theoretical models. According to the findings from this research, prospective teachers prefer a Ruler attitude and an Authoritarian attitude the least in perceived student control. Dönmez and Başal (1985) observed that adults tend to focus on rules in semi-
  6. 6. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL908 traditional and semidemocratic society. It seems that prospective teachers in Turkey exhibit a Helpless approach to stress and a Ruler attitude towards student management. This suggests that when they were students in the faculty, they did not learn strategies for coping with stress or prepare well for professional life. References Abacı, R. (1996). The effect of human relations on teacher’s stress, locus of control, and pupil control ideology. Unpublished dissertation, Nottingham University, Nottingham, England. Arikewuyo, M. O. (2004). Stress management strategies of secondary school teachers in Nigeria. Educational Research, 46(2), 195-207. Boswell, W. R., Olson-Buchanan, J. B., & LePine, M. A. (2004). Relations between stress and work outcomes: The role of felt challenge, job control, and psychological strain. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64(1), 165-181. Bowman, D. H. (2001). At school, a cruel culture. Education Weekly, 20(1), 16-17. Brophy, J. E. (1988). Educating teachers about managing classrooms and students. Teaching and Teacher Education, 4, 1-18 Cangelosi, J. S. (2004). Classroom management strategies: Gaining and maintaining students’ cooperation (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Chandler, L. (1985). Children under stress: Understanding emotional adjustment (2nd ed.). Springfield, IL: Thomas. Cohen, F., & Lazarus, R. (1973). Active coping processes, coping dispositions, and recovery from surgery. Psychosomatic Medicine, 35, 375-398. Dönmez, A., & Başal, H. A. (1985). Çevre büyüklüğü ve 10–12 yaş ilkokul çocuklarında denetim odağı. Psikoloji Dergisi, 5(18), 7-14. Dunham, J. (1986). Helping with stress. In M. Marland (Ed.), School management skills. Oxford: Heinemann. Ekşi, H. (2004). Personality and coping: A multidimensional research on situational and dispositional coping. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 4(1), 94-98. Ellis, A., & Greiger, R. (1977). Handbook of rational-emotive therapy. New York: Springer. Everard, K. B., & Morris, G. (2003). Effective school management. London: Paul Chapman. Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. (1980). An analysis of coping in a middle-aged community sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 21, 219-239. Glasser, W. (1986). Control theory in the classroom. New York: Harper & Row. Goss, S. (2001). Counseling: A quiet revolution. London: Teachers Benevolent Fund. Güçlü, N. (2001). Stress management. G.Ü. Gazi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 21(1), 91-109. Karadağ, E. (2007). Development of the teachers’ sufficiency scale in relation to constructivist learning: Reliability and validity analysis. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 7(1), 167- 175. Kyriacou, C. (1980). Coping actions and occupational stress among schoolteachers. Research in Education, 24, 57-61. Kyriacou, C. (1987). Teacher stress and burnout: An international review. Educational Leadership, 29, 146-152. Lazarus, R., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer. Linn, R., & Hodge, G. (1982). Locus of control in childhood hyperactivity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50, 592-593. McConaghy, T. (1992). Teacher wellness: An educational concern. Phi Delta Kappan, 74(4), 349- 350.
  7. 7. STRESS MANAGEMENT AND STUDENT CONTROL 909 Morris, E. A., Brooks, P. R., & May, J. L. (2003). The relationship between achievement goal orientation and coping style: Traditional vs. nontraditional college students. College Student Journal, 37(1), 3-8. Okebukola, P. A., & Jegede, O. J. (1992). Survey of factors that stress science teachers and an examination of coping strategies. Science Education, 76, 199-210. Park, C. L., Armeli, S., & Tennen, H. (2004). The daily stress and coping process and alcohol use among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65, 126-135. Pehlivan, İ. (2000). Stress in business life. Ankara: PegemA. Şahin, N. H., & Durak, A. (1994). Occupational stress, job satisfaction and coping styles: The case of the bank personnel. 23rd International Congress of Applied Psychology, July 17-22, Madrid, Spain. Wight, E. L., Peterson, P. M., & Chen, W. W. (2005). Perceived problem solving, stress, and health among college students. American Journal of Health and Behavior, 29(4), 360-370. Wilson, W. (2002). Feeling the strain: An overview of the literature on teacher stress (SCRE Research Rep. No. 109). Scotland. Zurlo, M. C., Pes, D., & Cooper, C. L. (2007). Stress in teaching: A study of occupational stress and its determinants among Italian schoolteachers. Stress and Health, 23(4), 231-241.
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