Understanding Teacher Stress: Relations of Implicit and Explicit Coping Processes with Teaching Outcomes

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Teacher attrition within the first three years is a growing problem in the US. The current study focuses on teacher stress from a novel perspective by assessing how teachers cope with stresses of the profession at the earliest point in their careers – during their training. Coping is defined as a transaction between a person and their environment, influenced by conscious choices and automatic processes. Research relies on explicit measures (self-report on Likert scales) to assess coping, but critics note this approach is limited and does not assess the whole process. In addition to Likert scales, this study incorporates implicit measures (narratives, the Thematic Apperception Test), to examine the implicit processes of coping. As predicted, significant correlations were identified within, but not across methods of measurement. Implicit but not explicit measures were significantly correlated with external evaluations of teacher effectiveness. Implications for coping theory and measurement are discussed.