Stressors and stress symptoms of Life Science educators in schools in Tshwane North
Keywords:biology, educators, life sciences, stress, stressors
Increased workloads and curriculum changes have become an integral part of the teaching profession. Knowledge of the major stressors and stress symptoms of teachers is required for proper stress management. We therefore aimed to determine the major stressors and stress symptoms experienced by Grade 10–12 Life Science (previously known as Biology) educators in government schools in Tshwane North (Gauteng, South Africa), as well as to assess their time distribution and their needs with regard to academic support. Questionnaires were sent to the Grade 10–12 Life Science educators in 94 government schools in Tshwane North. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. Only teachers from 36 schools responded. A total of 53.9% of these educators indicated that they spend more than 50 hours each week on school-related activities, 17.3% of whom spend between 60 hours and 64 hours and 9.6% spend more than 74 hours. When asked if they had felt stressed during the 3 months preceding the study, 81.1% of respondents replied in the affirmative; 70.5% of whom felt that school-related factors contributed the most to their stress. Factors identified as major contributors to this stress were: learners’ poor behaviour and attitude and lack of discipline, lack of time, large class sizes, and teaching a learning area in which they were not trained. Educators indicated that they prefer assistance in the form of a book containing portfolio tasks with accompanying assessment tools and suggested memoranda, as well as workshops at their schools. Stress management programmes should be needs directed. Stressors can largely be alleviated by proper consultation and planning on the side of the higher authorities, additional academic support and the availability of appropriate funding.
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