The general purpose of this study was to determine work stress and coping strategies among teachers in private primary schools in Owerri Education Zone of Imo State. The study was guided by four research questions and four null hypotheses. The study adopted the causal comparative or ex- post-facto research design. The population for the study was 2364 private primary school teachers out of which 468 private primary school teachers were drawn as sample for the study. The instrument used for data collection was a validated Work Stress and Coping Strategies Among Teachers Questionnaire” (WSCATQ). The internal consistency reliability coefficient was determined for the questionnaire using cronbach Alpha this yielded a reliability index of 0.84. The data were analyzed using mean and standard deviation for answering the research questions and t-test statistics to test the hypotheses at .05 level of significance. The major findings of the study showed among others that the factors that contribute to work stress among teachers in private primary schools are irregular payment of salaries by school owners, the school management made decisions that affect teachers’ job without involving them, combining academic responsibilities with much administrative duties and lack of motivation. The findings while ascertaining the influence of work stress on teachers in urban and rural areas indicated that when teachers are stressed up they develop high-blood-pressure which reduces one ’s ability to do the job, teachers often suffer headaches and muscle pains which hinder their job performance when they are under stress, due to work stress teachers experience sleeping difficulties such as insomnia which makes them unable to respond quickly to demands placed on them. Finally, it was discovered that the strategies to be adopted by the teachers to cope with work stress encompasses engaging in regular exercises, making use of meditation/ relaxation techniques, taking adequate sleep, eating balanced diet, having positive and rational view of situations, cultivating a sense of humour (laughing often), Sharing feelings with trusted friends, expressing feelings instead of bottling them up, avoiding scheduling too many appointments and keeping and maintaining a stress diary. The educational implications of the findings were pointed out such as the need for management to adequately pay teachers’ salaries as and when due, involving them in matters that concerns them and reduction in teachers’ workload. The major limitation of the study was outlined, recommendations and suggestions for further studiesmade.

Background of the Study
In the society today, people are engaged in different types of work and as such, are faced with challenges of meeting up with household needs. This is informed by the quest to satisfy human want which is insatiable. Global economic meltdown seems to have worsened the situation in Nigeria among teachers as gaining access to the resources for good standard of living becomes elusive on daily basis. As one strives to cater for the family needs and meet up with work demands, one equally encounters challenges such as boredom, distress, tiredness, burnout, weakness, weariness, frustration and stress among others that impose unbearable situations on such person(s). These issues are not different from what obtains among teachers in private primary schools in Owerri Education Zone of Imo State in their place of work.

Work is the application of effort or energy to accomplish a task. The individual in any occupation is said to have work (Okorie, 2000). Contributing to this view, Hornby (2010) defined work as to do something that involves physical or mental effort. For work to be meaningful, it should be performed in an environment that stimulates the development of positive professional relationships. In the same vein, Merriam (2013) perceived work as the labour, task, or duty that is one’s accustomed means of livelihood. It is also activity in which one exerts strength or effort to do or perform something. Justifying these assertions, Anyanwu (2014) opined that the effort or energy may be applied mentally or physically. The physical activities according the author include moving files or equipment, sweeping or cleaning among others. It can also mean tasks or duties performed to earn a reward. In the context of this study, work can be seen as an activity by which an individual fits into the world, creates new relations, use one’s talent, learns, grows and develops one’s identity and a sense of belonging. Effective work by an individual worker in any occupation is based on interest, skill, knowledge, ability, attitude and value.
As a result of engagement in work, one can encounter some degree of stress. According to Gada (2002), stress is defined as a specific response of the body to all demands. In a related view, Mgbodile (2004) opined that stress is a condition or situation, internal or external that imposes demand for adjustment on the individual. According to Love and Irani (2007) stress is seen as the individual’s inability to cope with excessive workplace demand or job pressure. In the context of this study, stress is an individual’s response to unpleasant situation or condition at a time which makes such a person unable to bear or cope steadfastly and could generate work stress.

When an individual experiences boredom or perceives work to be unpleasant or very challenging, it could invariably be termed as work stress. It occurs when people have responsibilities and demands at work with which they cannot cope for a variety of reasons in ones occupation (Lua and Imilia, 2011). Work stress can also occur when there is a mismatch between job expectations and reality. Stressing further, the authors considered work stress as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the workers. Job stress or work stress is a body’s non- specific response to the demand placed on it from a particular job. It is a state of emotional breakdown of a body being worked out by a particular job (Selye, 2002). Similarly, Lee and Wang (2002) stated that a high level work stress is related to working experience and education. The authors further stated that work stress arises from social arrangements that are partially determined by the organization of work and interaction between these organizational factors and the characteristics of individual workers. In the opinion of Ross (2005), work stress is defined as the inability to cope with the pressure in a job because of a poor fit between someone’s abilities and work requirement and conditions. In this respect, Blaud, Kenyon and Lekhi (2007) observed that work stress occurs when there is a mismatch between the demands of the job and the resource and capabilities of the individual work to meet those demands. Buttressing further, the authors stated that work stress brings about break down in the physical, emotional, psychological and social health of the teachers. It reduces teacher’s ability to teach effectively. This implies that work stress mostly occurs when an individual lacks the ability or the energy required to cope with the demands of one’s duty. Thus, work stress refers to stress caused by daily work.

Work stress occurs when a person has a negative perception of the work environment in a manner that his or her reaction involves feelings of an inability to cope at the work place (Health & Safety Authority, 2006, Ahsan, Abdullah, Fie & Alam, 2009). Work related stress is a response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope (Blasé, 2002). Considering the various definition of work stress advanced by scholars in the literature so far, the researcher defines work-stress for the purpose of this study as the physical, emotional and mental discomfort an employee experiences in an organization in the course of discharging daily responsibilities caused by external organizational stimulus.

The main conceptualization of work stress emphasizes the relationship between individuals and their working environment, and helps to explain why a situation that one person regards as a stimulating challenge causes another to experience a damaging degree of various types of stress. According to Jamal (2007), work stress has four different types of effects on workers’ performance which include decrease in productivity, increase in productivity, mud stress which could increase the productivity initially up to a peak and work stress declines as the person descends into a state of distress. The cost of stress to teachers, employers, and society is enormous because it has serious negative impacts on teachers’ health and well- being, the family, the organization and on the society. Russell and Roach (2002) and Dollard and Wine Field (2002) confirmed that workers are exposed to work stress which has negative impacts on them such as cardiovascular disease, psychological distress, depressive symptoms, disorders, suicide, family conflict, absenteeism and reduced performance among others. Buttressing further, the authors stated further that stress causes behavioural problems like anger and depression, among others. Work stress as seen in literature include work load which has been linked to a number of factors including anxiety, physiological reactions such as fatigue, backache, headaches and gastrointestinal problems.

Besides, every job including teaching has its own stress, but this study is specifically on the stress experienced by teachers in private primary schools. The stress contributing factors among teachers vary from situation to situation, but there is a general agreement on certain factors which exist either within or outside the institution, which contribute to stress among primary school teachers in private schools (Gillespie, Walsh, Dua & Stough 2001). Contributing to the above view, Van Dierendonck and Visser.....

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