Stressors and Stress Symptoms of Life Science Educators

In several studies of job stress, teachers reported variety of stressors relating to time, student behavior, class size, policy changes, and job training. The knowledge of major stressors and stress symptoms was much needed for effective stress management in public education (Crafford & Viljoen, 2013). In order to determine teachers’ major stressors and stress manifestations, Crafford and Viljoen (2013) conducted a quantitative study to survey 56 Grade 10–12 Life Science educators (89.5% females, 57.1% males) from government schools in Tshwane North, South Africa.

 In this study, researchers compiled a questionnaire to present 50 potential school-related stressors and 68 possible signs of stress symptoms. Participants were asked to rate each item on a scale from 1 (no influence) to 5 (most serious). In addition, Crafford and Viljoen collected biographical data of gender, age, home language, highest qualification and teaching experience, as well as hours spent on school-related activities and needs for job resources. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation coefficient, and Fisher’s exact test were used to analyze the data (Crafford & Viljoen, 2013).

In the findings of the research, teachers reported the top five job stressors as (1) lack of time to get work done, (2) learner behavior and attitude, (3) large class size, (4) constant changes and reforms, and (5) lack of job training. Top stress symptoms reported by teachers were fatigue, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, overeating, clenched jaw, and nausea (Crafford & Viljoen, 2013).

The findings about top stressors were in line with the job demand-resource (JD-R) model and the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI). Both JD-R and TSI attribute teacher stress to job demands (time, workload, and classroom demands) and lack of job resources (job control and career growth). The research results demonstrated that most (70.5%) teachers reported high level of work-related stress which could manifest physical and mental symptoms and hurt teachers’ wellbeing in everyday life.


Crafford, M. A., & Viljoen, M. (2013). Stressors and stress symptoms of life science educators in schools in Tshwane North. South African Journal of Science, 109(9/10), 1-8. doi:10.1590/sajs.2013/1117

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