University Of Tasmania
whole_FrithJudyJacqueline2010_thesis.pdf (4.88 MB)

Stress and coping in teachers exposed to violent and aggressive student behaviour

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posted on 2023-05-26, 20:22 authored by Frith, JJ
LITERATURE REVIEW This paper reviews the literature on occupational stress. The review commences with a consideration of the key terms used in the occupational stress literature. This is followed by a discussion about the historical context of stress theories. Three models of work stress that have played a dominant role in occupational stress research in the past three decades are outlined. A general perspective on stress which also can be applied to the occupational stress context is then presented. A range of sources of occupational stress and research pertaining to these are reviewed. Specifically, physical environmental and psychosocial risk factors, along with the individual difference variables that make an individual more or less likely to develop work place stress are discussed. This is followed by a discussion about aggressive and violent behavior in the work place. The key constructs of workplace violence and aggression are defined. Additionally, the negative consequences of exposure to workplace aggression and violence at the individual, organizational and societal level are discussed. The review concludes with a summary of the key points and identifies a gap in existing occupational stress research. It is noted that despite the large body of research that exists in relation to occupational stress and teachers' experience of workplace stress, there has been little research into the impact of student aggression and violence against teachers. EMPIRICAL STUDY Using Berry's (1998) general perspective on stress as a guiding framework, this study investigated the psychophysiological and psychological responses of Australian public school teachers to violent/aggressive student behaviour, using personalized staged guided imagery. Teacher coping strategies and resources for dealing with their exposure to violent/aggressive student behaviour were also investigated. Heart rate measurements and psychological ratings were obtained during guided imagery of a violent/aggressive work event, stressful but nonviolent/aggressive work event and a neutral event from 23 teachers. Forty teachers completed questionnaires on coping strategies and coping resources. Heart rate responses of teachers did not differ significantly between the violent/aggressive event, the stressful event, and the neutral event. Also, teachers who reported high levels of stress did not experience greater arousal levels than teachers who reported low levels of stress. Imagery of the violent/aggressive work event did elicit more negative psychological responses than the stressful event and the neutral event. Also, significantly more anger, anxiety, and fear, and less control were reported during the incident and consequence stages of the violent/aggressive event. Thus, the current study identifies some of the negative psychological responses that can ensue for teachers exposed to violent/aggressive student behavior. Limitations and methodological issues are discussed and directions for future research are suggested.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2010 the Author Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references. Introduction and overview -- The meaning of stress -- Theories of occupational stress -- Sources of occupational stress -- Aggression and violence in the workplace -- Summary and conclusions.

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