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Using a three-year longitudinal design, the overarching goal of this study is to investigate, using rigorous methods and advanced analytic techniques, growth trajectories of student teacher’s coping during pre-service teacher education.
Perspective or theoretical framework
Coping, defined as an individual’s efforts to manage events that are appraised as challenging (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), is particularly relevant for beginning teachers' because teachers report experiencing high stress levels (Borg, 1990; Johnson, Cooper, Cartwright, Donald, Taylor, & Millet, 2005), and rank among the top professionals in regard to burnout (de Heus & Diekstra, 1999; Schutz & Zemblyas, 2009). A growing body of research has evidenced significant declines in academic, social-emotional functioning during pre-service teacher education (Author, 2012a; Hochschild, 1983; Lortie, 1975; Zembylas & Schutz, 2009), but the levels and trajectories of coping that student teachers has not been clearly documented.
The study seeks to address this gap by examining reported levels of coping among pre-service teachers’ using the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) (Endler & Parker; 1990; 1999). The CISS provides a conceptual framework for making sense of the speciﬁc levels of coping that student teachers have, and the trajectories of coping during this developmental period. This has implications for program and intervention development.
This study sought to address the following questions:
• What levels of reported task, avoidance, and emotion coping do pre-service teachers have?
• Does student teachers’ average task, avoidance, and emotion coping follow a linear or nonlinear trajectory during teacher preparation?
In Spring 2014, the CISS was administered to students from the first-year of a four-year undergraduate (UG) teacher preparation program in an Irish university (time 1). We administered this same measure the following year, in spring (2015; time 2) and again one year later (2016; time 3). This sample consisted of 305 students, 185 (60.7%) males and 113 (37.0%) females. The growth of coping was modeled using latent growth curve modeling or LGM.
First conclusion: student teachers scored in the average range on emotion and task coping subscales while scoring higher on the avoidance coping subscale. Compared to a population of same aged peers (see Endler and Parker, 1999), pre-service teachers’ seem to use mainly avoidance coping strategies. By comparison, they rarely reported using task coping strategies. Second conclusion: data suggest that growth in task, avoidance, and emotion is a linear trend. This study, based on a reasonably large data-set, shows there was no increase in the mean change of task or emotion coping over time, while there was a decrease in the mean change of avoidance over time. Notwithstanding, the coping style pre-service teachers’ reported using most was avoidance; student reported using this coping style more often than same-aged peers at all three time points. Descriptive statistics in Table 1.; correlation matrix in Table 2.
Improving pre-service teachers’ coping strategies, using specific programs such as evidence-based social and emotional learning programs during teacher education (Author, 2016; Author, 2010; 2012a; 2012b), therefore seems a worthwhile endeavor and may be instrumental in promoting important outcomes.