Vocational Concerns of Elementary Teachers: Stress, Job Satisfaction, and Occupational Commitment

Teachers with high-level stress were less satisfied and more likely plan to leave current jobs. McCarthy, Lambert, and Reiser  (2014) examined the association between teacher stress and organizational commitment (teachers’ commitment to the school where they work) based on the transactional theories (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Participants of the study were 185 elementary teachers from a southeastern state of the United States.

McCarthy et al. used the Classroom Appraisal of Demands and Resources (CARD) to assess teacher perceptions of the demands and resources in their classrooms. Then the CARD scores were used to classify teachers in this study into the three groups: resourced group (resources greater than demands), balanced group (demands equal to resources), and demand group (demands greater than resources). According to the transactional models of stress, teachers in the demand group were most vulnerable to stress (McCarthy et al., 2014).

In addition, the Preventive Resources Inventory (PRI) was used to measure teachers’ self-reports of preventive coping resources. Two questionnaires adapted from other research were used to measure teachers’ job satisfaction and Plans to Leave Current Job (PLCJ). Through One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), McCarthy et al., determined that the demand group had statistically significantly lower average stress prevention scores than teachers in the resourced group, and the demand group had statistically significantly lower average job satisfaction scores than teachers in both the balanced and resourced groups. Furthermore, the demand group reported having made statistically significantly more plans to leave on average than either the balanced group or the resourced group.

As addressed in this study, work overload, insufficient resources, and job dissatisfaction would cause teacher turnover and result in teacher shortage. The instability of teacher workforce had become a prominent problem in the United States (McCarthy et al., 2014; Lambert et al., 2015). This study implied that public policy changes might be needed in order to resolve the job stress issues in public education.


McCarthy, C. J., Lambert, R. G., & Reiser, J. (2014). Vocational concerns of elementary teachers: Stress, job satisfaction, and occupational commitment. Journal of Employment Counseling, 51(2), 59-74. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1920.2014.00042.x

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