Stress and the teacher: a comparative study of elementary and secondary teachers in the Prince William County, Virginia public school system

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this research was to measure, analyze, and compare the degree of stress perceived by public elementary and secondary school teachers in the Prince William County School System.

The sample for this survey was composed of members in the Prince William Education Association for the 1983-84 school year. Of the Association's 1,530 members, 511 teachers were randomly sampled systematically school by school. Two hundred sixty-nine were secondary teachers while 242 were elementary teachers. A 94% response was received.

The survey instrument consisted of 48 job-related events to which the sample respondents were asked to indicate the degree of stress they associated with each event. A 48-item demographic questionnaire was used to collect personal and situational information about the respondents. These items were identified as the variables which could be related to the stress experienced by the teachers.

The findings of the study indicated that even though a moderately high level of stress was reported, the respondents at the secondary school level did not appear to differ from those at the elementary school level, sex was a significant predictor of perceived stress level, and that there are differential levels of stress across selected levels of key demographic variables, such as--sex, age, marital status, race, degree, tenured, and percentage of total family income. Additionally, the study examined internalized manifestations of stress experienced by the respondents.