Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brenner, Devon G.

Committee Member

Williams, Ronald, Jr.

Committee Member

Pope, Margaret

Committee Member

Adams, James H.

Committee Member

Franz, Dana P.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


Teaching is considered to be one of the most stressful occupations (Johnson et al., 2005). Not only is the profession highly stressful, it has the highest degree of career turnover of any profession (Ingersoll, 2001). Consistent stress can lead to burnout of the profession. McCarthy et al. (2009) noted that teacher burnout can be a result of inappropriate coping resources. The purpose of this study was to investigate the sources of stress, coping strategies, and learned coping strategies among expert elementary teachers. The sources of stress and coping strategies were examined using the Social Ecological Model which allowed for sources and coping strategies to be viewed from multiple levels: intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and public policy. There were 7 expert elementary teachers who participated in this study. Data collection included interviews, observations, and documents. The data revealed 14 sources of stress. Similarities and differences existed across the teaching positions regarding their sources of stress at the 5 ecological levels. For example, 2 gifted teachers and 1 special education teacher reported a lack of knowledge/training as a source of stress classified at the intrapersonal level, and all 7 teachers reported negative student behaviors as a source of stress classified at the interpersonal level. The 3 most common coping strategies included creating a support network, adapting to the situation, and creating a home-like environment. The majority of the teachers learned their coping strategies from personal experiences and people and some learned strategies from professional development programs.



teacher attrition||expertise||elementary teachers||teacher stress||coping