Is classroom stress being transferred between professors, students?
- A study of primary school teachers and students in British Columbia reveals that higher reports of teacher burnout correlate with students having elevated levels of cortisol, a chemical which can measured to indicate stress levels.
- Researchers say the root of teacher-student stress contagion are not clear, and could stem either from a lack of teacher support from administration, or from unruly student behavior and difficulty in controlling classroom order.
- Findings suggest that teachers need more resources to encourage student engagement and teacher satisfaction.
This study of primary teacher-student contagion easily translates over to the academic experience at many colleges and universities. At elite institutions where professors can have access to teaching aides aides, online learning tools and self-study laboratories, the possibility of stress transference from professor to student is limited, but could exist in the lack of interaction and personal engagement. This could be compounded by pressure to publish, to pursue tenure and to learn new technologies in teaching.
For lower resourced universities with open access missions, the lack of technology and increased need for hand holding through the learning process induces the same form of stress and anxiety about student outcomes and professional evaluation.
Colleges can commit to finding silver bullet solutions by using predictive analytics, student satisfaction surveys and other tools, but because every student and professor is different, each individual classroom should learn how to self-govern and operate with the personalities of all people teaching and learning within it.