By: Ramanjot Singh 19′
Individual experiences of stress and burnout can have adverse effects on health and output. While much research has been conducted on the etiology of stress, its effects on teacher-student interactions is relatively unexplored. A group of researchers led by Dr. Venus Wong at the University of Kentucky conducted a study to examine potential direct effects of teacher burnout on teacher behavior and student outcomes.
The team utilized data from a previous study, the Collaborative Model for Promoting Competence and Success. The randomized sample consisted of special education teachers and children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The researchers measured student engagement through quality of the interaction with the teacher through student individual educational outcomes (IEP), scored teacher progress through a 5 point Likert-type scale, teacher burnout through a 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory Educators Survey created in 1997, and teacher stress using the 43- item Index of Teaching Stress created by Greene, Abidin, and Kmetz in 1997.
The results of this study indicate that teacher stress and burnout were both significantly correlated with teaching quality and student engagement. High teacher stress predicted lower teaching quality and decreased student engagement. High levels of teacher emotional exhaustion were related to less student engagement, which resulted in poor IEP outcomes. More specifically, reduced personal accomplishment was found to be negatively related to successful IEP outcomes. Emotional exhaustion and depersonalization also had indirect effects on student IEP outcomes either through reduced student engagement or reduced teaching quality.
The limitations of this study are the small sample size, and relatively homogenous group. Moreover, each student manifested their autism symptoms differently, so it was difficult to standardize and analyze their progress. Nevertheless, this study does set a ground for more studies to study this topic. The researchers emphasize that leaders in education policy should consider the mental health of teachers when analyzing student progress.
- Wong, V. et. al,. Too stressed to teach? teaching quality, student engagement, and IEP outcomes. Exceptional Children 83 (4), 412-427 (2017). Doi:10.1177/0014402917690729.
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