Validation of the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI) in a South African context : the SABPA study
Boshoff, Susanna Maria
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This research was aimed at determining the psychometric properties of the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI; Boyle, Borg, Falzon & Baglioni, 1995) and in doing so enabling the possible development of a much needed, more culture sensitive inventory for the measurement of teacher stress as it manifests in the South African context. A review of international literature revealed that the stress associated with the teaching profession is a well-known phenomenon, and has received increasing recognition and research attention in recent years (e.g., Brown, Howcroft & Jacobs, 2010; Chaplain, 2008; Ngidi & Sibaya, 2002; Olivier & Venter, 2003; Schwarzen & Hallum, 2008; Sharplin, O‘Neill & Chapman, 2011; Vandeyar, 2005). However, only a few studies on teacher stress in the South African context could be found. The studies that were done within the South African teaching context (Ferreira, 2008; Lund & Fisher, 2006; Møller, 2007) did report various and specific challenges that add to the stressors South African teachers need to overcome in order to maintain psychological well-being. Furthermore, these studies mostly implemented scales that were developed within a Eurocentric context, and thus did not incorporate cultural and contextual factors that are known to impact directly on both the construction and experience of psychological well-being (Temane & Wissing, 2008; Wissing & Temane, 2008; Wissing, Wissing, Du Toit, & Temane, 2006) and stress. The need for a teacher stress scale which will be valid in the South African context became apparent. Therefore, the aim of this study is to validate the TSI for use in a South African context. A cross-sectional design for data collection was used as part of the Sympathetic Activity and Ambulatory Blood pressure in Africans (SAPBA) study. The research sample consisted of urban Caucasian (n=209) and African (n=200) teachers subsiding in the North-West Province of South Africa. The TSI, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) and the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF) were administered to all participants, together with physiological measures of stress that were taken under controlled circumstances. Based on the results from the exploratory factor analysis and item analysis that was conducted separately on the different ethnic groups, it was decided to omit items 1, 3 and 6 due to evidenced problematic psychometric properties in this study population. A further factor analysis that was conducted on the total study group showed sufficient communalities and yielded a two-factor model, with a robust factor structure and satisfactory reliability indices for both extracted factors, namely (1) General circumstance related stress and (2) Learner related stress. Satisfactory criterion-related validity was determined by correlating the TSI with other measures of psychological health, the GHQ and the MHC-SF, as well as physiological measures of health. In conclusion, the TSI proved to be a useful, brief self-report questionnaire for the assessment of occupational stress within this cohort of South African teachers. If replicated within a sample more representative of the South African context, the findings of this study will allow the impact of different sources of teacher stress to be determined and compared within the South African context. It further holds promising possibilities for influencing public policy with regard to the education system in South Africa and to contribute to the exploration of teacher stress in this context, with the aim of contributing to the psychological well-being of South African teachers. Further psychometric evaluation is however necessary before the TSI can be considered to be a valid instrument in the broad South African context.
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