Stressed teacher, stressed students?
Research released in April 2016 has shown a link between teacher and student stress levels. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of British Colombia in Canada, is the first study to show that teachers' occupational stress is linked to students' physiological stress regulation.
While the study was relatively small in scale, it did reveal some interesting results. Researchers assessed 17 teachers, taking classes from the fourth to the seventh grade, and the students in each class.
Using student saliva samples taken at three times during the day, the researchers were able to assess the levels of cortisol present in more than 400 students with an average age of 11 years. Cortisol is the body’s ‘stress hormone’ and can be used to indicate the student’s stress response.
The results showed that students whose teachers reported feeling burnout had higher cortisol levels. This led researchers to suggest the impact from teachers with feelings of stress and burnout was taking a toll on students. The research also showed that stressed teachers tended to be less effective in the classroom and less connected to their students.
While the researchers reported that further studies were needed to fully understand the results, it also concluded that teachers would be less stressed if they had more support and better resources.