«SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS AND WORK STRESS: EXPLORING THE COMPETING INTERESTS MODEL By LARRY DEAN BUSH JR A dissertation submitted in partial ...»
The Demand-Control Model The Demand-Control Model (also known as the Job Strain Model) of occupational stress was developed in the late 1970’s by Scandinavian researchers (Karasek, 1979; Karasek, Baker, Marxer, Ahlbom, & Theorell, 1981). Unlike the Person-Environment Fit model, the DemandControl Model theorizes stress results from the interaction of job demands and the latitude of decision-making discretion available to the employee (Karasek, 1979). Consequently, stress results not from a mismatch of demands, supplies, abilities, and needs, but from a mismatch of the demands in the work environment and the amount of employee control, discretion, or authority. Articulated as a two by two matrix, the Demand-Control Model produces four potential job situations with job demands on the horizontal axis and decision-making discretion on the vertical axis (see Table 1 for an illustration). The four potential job situations include jobs with low demands and low decision-making discretion; jobs with high demands and high decision-making discretion; jobs with low demands and high decision-making discretion; and jobs with high demands and low decision-making discretion. This matrix produces two predictions of the conditions that create the least and greatest strain. First, strain increases as the job demands increase and the decision-making discretion decreases. Second, strain decreases as the job demands decrease and decision-making discretion increases.
Table 1 An illustration of the 2 X 2 Matrix of the Demand-Control Model
In their physiological research on the elevation or suppression of the stress related hormone cortisol, Lundeberg and Frankenhaeuser (1984) provide additional support for the Demand-Control Model. Lundeberg and Frankenhaeuser conclude jobs high in controllability and predictability result in lower levels of cortisol. Additional support for the Demand-Control Model is found in the research on Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) in middle aged, blue color men by Siegrist, Peter, Junge, Cremer, and Seidel (1990). Siegrist et al. concluded that the occurrence of high effort and low control was a predictor of Ischemic Heart Disease The key modifiers in the Demand-Control Model are job demands and decision-making discretion. The perceptions, skills, tolerance to pressure, and vulnerability to dysfunctional outcomes is viewed as inherent to the job and not the individual. Thus, the implications of the model lead to an emphasis upon designing jobs with an adequate blend of job demands and decision-making latitude.
The Demands-Supports-Constraints Model The Demands-Supports-Constraints Model was proposed by Payne (1979) and Payne and Fletcher (1983). It is an amplification of the Demand-Control Model (Karasek, 1979). In essence, the Demands-Supports-Constraints Model concludes that job latitude is but one of many possible factors that may limit or constrain the worker. The lack of support and resources in the context of high demands coupled with low decision discretion leads to strain. The survey research of Payne and Fletcher (1983) tested the rates of psychological dysfunction, such as anxiety, cognitive impairments, and somatic complaints, among 148 classroom teachers in the Midlands of England. Results from the study indicated that independent and dependent variables such as workload, disciplinary demands, and decision-making latitude, accounted for five percent of the variance in psychological dysfunction; consequently, the authors concluded there was minimal support for the Demands-Supports-Constraints Model. The authors further concluded, What is clear from these various studies is that self-reports of psychological health must be affected by variables other than perceptions of the work environment. The other variables presumably lie within the personality of the persons themselves, as well as in the environments which stretches beyond the workplace. (p. 145-146) The Effort-Reward Imbalance Model The Effort-Reward Imbalance Model was proposed by Siegrist (1996) to investigate the relationship between job demands and reward – not job demands and control – and is based upon the premise that work embodies a central and crucial link between the psychological well being of the employee and the broader work-related community. Occupational status is associated with belonging to a significant group of work colleagues and the reciprocity of contributing, performing, reward, and esteem. Thus, the core of the Effort-Reward Imbalance Model is the balance between the socially organized exchange of occupational demands and intrinsic coping with the occupational gratifications, such as money, esteem, and status. An imbalance resulting from a negative appraisal of the extrinsic obligations of the work, the intrinsic coping mechanisms, and the occupational gratifications results in an emotionally distressing experience.
The research of Siegrist, Dittman, Rittner, and Webber (1982) support the Effort-Reward Imbalance Model. They conclude that premature heart attacks are the result of years of excessive occupational efforts and failed attempts to develop occupational gratifications and rewards.
The Effort-Distress Model The Effort-Distress Model is another variation of the Demand-Control Model (Frankenhaeuser, 1983, 1991). Frankenhaeuser studied the brain-based, neurotransmitter responses of employees and concluded high effort and high demands do not inevitably lead to strain; instead, strain is the result of job demands that are not mitigated by personal control and decision latitude. Lundberg and Frankenhaeuser found the absence or presence of distress results in different brain-based, hormonal responses. The lack of strain resulted in increased cathecholamines, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine, while distress resulted in increased production of the stress induced hormone cortisol.
Summary In summary, stress is defined in different ways by sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Most recent models of occupational stress define stress as the relationship between the environment and individual responses. The cognitive meditational approach views stressful experiences as mediated, moderated, or modified resulting from cognitive appraisals of the individual’s ability or resources to cope with the demands of the work environment.
The Dualistic Model of Passion The Dualistic Model of Passion is an adaptation of the theoretical framework developed by Vallerand and Holfourt (2003) that distinguishes between two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive passion (Carbonneau, Vallerand, Fernet, & Guay, 2008). Carbonneau et al. define passion as a strong inclination towards an activity that one enjoys and freely and frequently engages in. This passionate activity is internalized as a central part of the identity of the teacher.
Harmonious passion develops from an autonomous internalization that teaching is important without any contingencies or mandates. Harmonious passion results in behavior that is flexible and in harmony with the totality of the teacher’s identity. In contrast, obsessive passion becomes non-volitional and is internalized with contingencies from intra-personal and inter-personal pressure attached to teaching. Obsessive passion is characterized by a lack of balance between the professional and personal domains. Although positive effects can be seen, teaching and school activities takes a disproportionate space in the teacher’s life and lead to conflict, neglect, and maladaptive outcomes.
Empirical studies provide support for the passion conceptualization of the Dualistic Model of Passion. First, research has supported the dual and distinct constructs of harmonious and obsessive passion (Rousseau, Vallerand, Ratelle, Mageau, & Provencher, 2002; Vallerand, Blanchard, Mageau, Koestner, Ratelle, & Leonard, 2003; Vallerand, Rousseau, Grouzet, Dumais, Grenier, & Blanchard, 2006). Second, the research of Vallerand et al. (2003) supports the positive associations between harmonious passion and positive emotions and obsessive passion and negative emotions during activity engagement. In addition, the research of Carbonneau, Vallerand, Fernet, and Guay (2008) provide some support for the Dualistic Model of Passion in teaching. Carbonneau et al. conducted a questionnaire study with 494 teachers in Quebec City schools over a three-month period with two data collections in March and June using several instruments that measured passion, satisfaction and burnout (e.g., Passion Scale, Vallerand et al., 2003; the French-Canadian version of the Satisfaction with Life Scale, Blais, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Briere, 1989; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffen, 1985; the FrenchCanadian version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory, Dion & Tessler, 1994; Maslach & Jackson, 1986; and the French-Canadian version of the Pupil Behavior Patterns Scale, Fernet & Senecal, 2004; Friedman, 1995). Carbonneau et al. concluded that increases in harmonious passion predicted increases in job satisfaction and decreases in burnout symptoms, but that increases in obsessive passion were unrelated to job satisfaction and burnout symptoms.
The Job-Person Fit Model A conceptual framework for burnout in education – not specifically in special education has been developed by Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter (2001). Their framework conceptualizes burnout in education as the “…match, or mismatch, between the person and the six domains of his or her job environment” (p. 413). The Job-Person Fit Model emphasizes the relationship of the individual with their work and is founded upon Rousseau’s (1995) notion of psychological contracts. Mismatches arise if critical issues are left unresolved when establishing a psychological contract either because the nature of the work was not expected or changed over the course of time. The six dimensions of match or mismatch include workload, control, rewards, fairness, community, and values (Maslach & Leiter, 1997). Although most of these dimensions appear straightforward, the dimensions may have varying impact depending upon the work environment and individual differences. Work overload has been conceptualized, not just as excessive occupational demands, but also as a mismatch between the teacher skill set and the nature of the work. Work overload exhausts the teacher’s energy and is closely linked to emotional exhaustion. The dimension of control addresses the teachers control over the necessary resources to accomplish their work. Even more so, it addresses the teacher’s responsibilities in comparison to their level of authority. The mismatch then reflects the teacher’s inability to accomplish work they believe is important either because they are not authorized to accomplish the work or lack the resources to accomplish the work. The control dimension is related to a reduced sense of personal accomplishment or efficacy. The third dimension of mismatch is the lack of appropriate rewards for the type and sophistication of work accomplished by teachers. These rewards include financial rewards and social rewards, such as recognition, pride, and appreciation that are intrinsic in nature. Inefficacy is closely associated with lack of appropriate rewards.
The fourth dimension of mismatch in the Job Person Fit Model is community. This occurs when teachers do not make personal and positive connections to their workplace colleagues. A strong sense of community increases social support, reaffirms shared values, and bolsters group membership. Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter (2001) report, “…what is most destructive of community is chronic and unresolved conflict with others on the job. Such conflict produces constant negative feelings of frustration and hostility, and reduces the likelihood of social support” (p. 415). The fifth dimension of mismatch is fairness. Fairness within the work environment conveys respect and confirms teacher self-worth. Inequitable workload, financial compensation, employee evaluations, or promotions can lead to a sense of unfairness and exacerbate emotional exhaustion and cynicism. The final dimension of mismatch is values. A mismatch in values occurs when conflicting values between the teacher and the school result in chronic unresolved conflict. These conflicting values come from differing ontological perspectives and drive decisions related to resources such as curriculum, classroom space, administrative support, and inclusive practices.
Summary In summary, the Dualistic Model of Passion and the Job Person Fit Model are conceptual frames of teacher stress. The Dualistic Model of Passion frames teacher stress within harmonious and obsessive passion, whereas, the Job Person Fit Model conceptualizes teacher stress within the mismatch of six domains within the work environment.
Conceptual Frames of Career Pathways of Special Education Teachers Generally speaking, the research literature frames the career decisions of special education teachers within the terms of attrition and retention. Other related terms in the literature include the intent to stay or leave special education (Billingsley & Cross; 1992; Cross & Billingsely, 1994; George, George, Gersten, & Grosenick, 1995; Gersten, Keting, Yovanoff, & Harniss, 2001; Singh & Billingsely, 1996; Westling & Whitten, 1996; Whiteaker, 2000); leavers and stayers (Boe, Bobbitt, Cook, Whitener, & Weber, 1997; Brownell, Smith, McNellis, & Miller, 1997); and exiters or exit attrition (Haggstrom, Darling-Hammond, & Grissmer, 1988).
The last twenty years has seen the emergence of two conceptual frameworks of teacher attrition in special education: Billingsley’s Special Education Teacher Attrition Model and Brownell and Smith’s Special Education Teacher Attrition Model. A more extensive discussion of special education teacher attrition will be provided in the conceptual models of special education teacher attrition.
Special Education Teacher Attrition Extensive research from the last thirty years has explicated the relationship between special education teacher attrition and teacher characteristics, personal factors, teacher qualifications, work environment factors, and affective responses to work (Billingsley, 2004).
Teacher characteristics include age, race, and gender, whereas personal factors include variables unrelated to work that impact the teachers decision to leave special education.
Teacher characteristics and personal factors.