Perceived Stress among Public School Music Educators: Stress over Time, Demographic Differences, Common Self-Identified Factors of Stress, and Relationships between Demographic Differences and Emergent Stress Themes
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Teaching frequently has been identified as a stressful occupation, warranting numerous studies of teacher burnout, attrition, and stress. Levels of professional burnout and attrition among educators have been shown to correlate with general levels of stress across all aspects of life. As rates of such issues continue to function as a source of concern within the profession, efforts to help educators manage stress and maintain balance are of critical importance. Additionally, music educators tend to face unique occupational stressors when compared with teachers in other content areas. Using Cohen and Williamson’s (1988) 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), combined with open-ended questions based on the PSS, this mixed method study was designed to track music educators’ perceived stress across a three month period, identify significant differences in perceived stress as a function of selected demographic factors, and explore emergent themes of increased and eased stress. Additionally, relationships between emergent stress themes and significant differences in overall perceived stress based on demographic factors were examined. Participants (N = 770) consisted of current K-12 public school music educators in the United States who were employed on at least a half-time basis. A series of three anonymous online surveys, administered at one-month intervals across three consecutive months during a fall academic term, served as the data collection instruments. Results showed that overall PSS scores decreased significantly across three months of data collection. Significant differences in PSS scores were found relative to participant age, parenthood status, grade/school levels taught, and years of teaching experience. Additionally, differences in PSS scores closely approached significance based on participant gender. Emergent themes of increased and eased stress were identified within 4,620 participant responses to open-ended questions. Each response was coded using a two-part, researcher-developed qualitative codebook developed during the data interpretation process. Comparisons were made between significantly different demographic factors and emergent stress themes, and results were compared to related research studies. Suggestions for future research are included. Implications for current K-12 public school music teachers, preservice music teachers, administrators, cooperating mentor teachers, and music teacher trainers and training programs are discussed.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Method -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix A. Email invitations and reminders sent to participants -- Appendix B. Additional participation demographic information -- Appendix C. Online surveysxvii, 179 pages