Occupational stress and coping strategies among Malaysian secondary-school teachers : a comparative cultural and gender analysis
Badariah Tunku Ahmad, Tunku
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The study analyzes occupational stress and coping among Malaysian secondaryschool teachers. It also seeks to determine if respondents’ perception of stress factors and modes of coping are related to culture and gender. The subjects of the study consisted of 126 secondary-school teachers teaching in Sekolah Menengah Chong Hwa and Sekolah Menengah Seri Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The sample was 56% Malay and 44% non-Malay. In terms of gender, it was 77% female and 23% male. Data were collected from teacher stress questionnaires and analyzed descriptively using frequency counts and percentage analysis. A series of chi-square analyses and t-tests were used to examine the relationship between criterion and independent variables. The results indicate that 23.8% of the total sample found teaching highly stressful. However, the prevalence of teacher stress was not found to be significantly related to culture and gender. Major sources of stress to respondents were various items under the categories “student-related difficulties,” “excessive tasks,” “poor working conditions” and “lack of security and low status.” A statistically significant relationship between perception toward sources of stress and respondents’ ethnicity existed with regard to nineteen items. Malay teachers appeared to be affected more by various aspects of “student-related difficulties,” whereas major sources of stress to non-Malay teachers Vere those items under the categories “excessive tasks,” “lack of security and low status,” “poor working conditions” and “interpersonal relationships.” Other differences observed between the two ethnic groups were not statistically significant. Female teachers reported stress from more items than male teachers. Significant differences between the sexes were observed with regard to eleven stressors related to student indiscipline and lack of motivation, students’ poor command of Bahasa Melayu, teaching floating classes, learner-centered instructions and substituting for absent colleagues. With regard to coping strategies, the relationship between coping and ethnicity reached a level Of significance (p < .05) for “praying or meditating,” “avoiding the source of stress” and “trying to change the situation.” Significant gender-related differences between the respondents were observed with regard to “talking to other people about the problem” and “praying or meditating.” Other differences observed between Malays and non-Malays and between males and females were not statistically significant.