Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Coping Strategies of Primary School Teachers in Taiwan Experiencing Stress Because of Teacher Surplus

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Coping Strategies of Primary School Teachers in Taiwan Experiencing Stress Because of Teacher Surplus

Article excerpt

The purpose in this study was to explore me association between primary school teachers' stress and their coping strategies in response to the teacher surplus in Central Taiwan. Quantitative research methods were employed, and data were collected from 436 Central Taiwanese teachers. Results were as follows: (a) primary teachers perceived that their teacher surplus-related stress primarily derived from increases in their teaching loads and perceived that denial of their need for coping strategies was one of the most commonly used coping strategies; (b) teachers who were aged under 30 with fewer than 5 years of teaching experience were the most stressed; and (3) there was a significant relationship between stress related to teacher surplus and coping strategies.

Keywords: teacher surplus, stress, coping strategies, primary school teachers, Taiwan.

Stress is unavoidable in modem society. Mild to moderate stress enhances performance at work, whereas too much stress can cause physical and mental symptoms to develop. Teacher job stress can be defined as a teacher experiencing unpleasant negative emotions, such as anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, and nervousness, as a result of some aspect of their work (Kyriacou, 2001). The phenomenon of teacher job stress has been receiving increased global attention in recent years (Abel & Sewell, 1999; Chan, 1998; Kyriacou & Chien, 2004; Lee, Kuo, Chiang, & Lien 2008; Lo, 2009; Pervez & Hanif, 2003; Tang, Au, Schwarzer, & Schmitz, 2001; Wen, 2007).

Teaching is a popular occupational choice in Taiwan because there are practical benefits that include no tuition fees for students at teachers' college or normal university, vacation time is longer for teachers than in many other professions, primary and secondary school teachers have an untaxed income, a retirement pension, job security, and the promise of a regularly increasing salary. However, there is currently an oversupply of public school teachers and an overabundance of teacher graduates in Taiwan. Since the implementation of family planning in Taiwan in the 1960s, Taiwan's birth rate has rapidly decreased and has dropped from an average of 3.09 births per woman in 1976 to an average of 1.03 in 2009 (Ministry of the Interior; MOI, 2010). This was praised as a family planning achievement (Lin & Yang, 2009); however, in the 21st century, Taiwan has been ranked globally as having one of the lowest birth rates (Köhler, Biliari, & Ortega 2002).

The number of births in 2009 fell to 191,310 compared to 425,125 recorded in 1976, whereas the crude birth rate, which is the annual number of births per 1,000 head of the total population, was 8.29 in 2009 which constitutes a significant decrease from the 25.92 recorded in 1976. The statistics (MOI, 2010) indicate that both figures are new record lows. The decrease in the birth rate has had a serious effect on educational institutions in Taiwan because the school-age population is now rapidly decreasing. The student population of primary schools was approximately 1,835,000 in 2005, but this number is expected to decrease to 1,244,000 in 2015, a reduction of 600,000 students. It has been estimated that the number of primary school classes will decrease to 10,000 in 2011.

The major sources of job stress among school teachers, the problem of teacher stress, and related issues, such as redundancy, education reforms, and class and school cuts have been examined in only a few studies (e.g., Lee et al., 2008; Wen, 2007). Career instability due to the related issues of class cuts and teacher surplus could explain the increased stress levels of primary school teachers in Taiwan.

Strategies for coping with stress are essential factors in formative stress outcomes (Lapierre & Allen, 2006). Although coping strategies can be different from each other, they can work together (Lazarus, 2000). Different coping strategies have different functions at different stages of coping with stress. …

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