The Role of School and Teacher Characteristics on Teacher Burnout and Implementation Quality of a Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum

Open Access
Ransford, Carolyn R
Graduate Program:
Human Development and Family Studies
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 06, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Mark T Greenberg, Committee Chair
  • Scott David Gest, Committee Member
  • Eric Loken, Committee Member
  • David Alexander Gamson, Committee Member
  • teacher burnout
  • teacher efficacy
  • implementation quality
  • teacher characteristics
  • school environment
  • stress
  • support
  • curriculum implementation
Over the last several decades, teachers’ roles have evolved with new demands that result, in part, from federal legislation. Most recently, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (Public Law 107-110) has placed additional pressures and accountability on teachers and schools. As a result, teachers’ rates of stress and burnout are believed to have increased, and in turn, may be influencing teachers’ effectiveness. Further, when teachers are asked to implement a new curriculum, those who show high rates of stress and a low sense of efficacy may also exhibit a lowered quality of implementation and ultimately have a negative impact on their students’ learning. To extend previous research and address these current issues, the focus of the present study was to examine what factors in the teacher, as well as their support systems, impact both their feelings of burnout and the quality of implementation of a new evidence-based curriculum whose goal is to improve students’ social and emotional learning (i.e., the PATHS program). The present study specifically focused on the following factors: teachers’ work pressure, teachers’ efficacy, technical and principal support for the PATHS program, teachers’ burnout, as well as teachers’ dosage and perceptions of the quality of their PATHS implementation. Results revealed that teachers’ stress and efficacy both have direct associations with teacher burnout while teachers’ supports for curriculum use do not. Teachers’ stress, efficacy, and curriculum supports also all have direct associations with particular aspects of implementation dosage and quality. Moreover, interactive effects between stressors, efficacy, and curriculum supports suggest that it is the combination of factors that most impacts the quality with which lessons and concepts are being delivered to students. High levels of work pressure alone did not decrease teachers’ level of implementation quality, nor did low levels of burnout. Additionally, teachers with higher efficacy were “protected” from the influence of high burnout on their implementation quality. Finally, results also varied by grade level, suggesting that teacher efficacy, as well as both principal and technical support, are more critical factors for upper grade level teachers. These findings reiterate the importance of teacher characteristics in the implementation of new curriculum. Researchers must also pay particular attention to grade level and other demographic factors that may play a role in program fidelity and program outcomes. Ultimately, schools must address the “whole” teacher as well as the role of principal and technical support in order to attain their most desired, and now required, outcomes of improved academic achievement.