Emotional regulation and resilience in educational organisations: a case of German school teachers

Stephanie Haeussler

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis investigates how the regulation of emotions contributes to the resilience of a school’s workforce in Germany, so that teachers develop and maintain the ability to handle obstacles as they occur, while emphasising the role of the organisation in supporting this process.Two areas of literature, around resilience and emotions, respectively emotion regulation, are reviewed and critically discussed. Additionally literature on stress in the teaching profession is reviewed in order to provide the context of this study. It is found that no research has investigated to date which emotion regulation strategies are applied by individuals in an organisational (here specifically educational) context that have the potential to increase their perceived resilience. At the same time it can be shown that the teaching profession is considered a stressful profession due to its high emotional demands (Brackett et al., 2010; Johnson et al., 2005; Kyriacou, 2001) and teachers are in need of high levels of resilience (Brackett et al., 2010), making this study relevant for educational organisations.In this study, both, resilience and emotions, are understood as social constructions. Consequently this research follows a social constructionist approach. With an interpretivist perspective, this study tries to explore subjective understandings of emotion regulation and its influence on the individual’s perception of their resilience, taking a qualitative approach. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with teachers of German schools. This data is complemented by qualitative research diaries, filled in by the interviewees. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is the chosen framework for analysis, as it allows the exploration of individuals’ experiences and perceptions (Chamberlain, 1999; Smith & Osborn, 2003).Research participants’ reported intensity of emotional experiences in the workplace combined with the increased risks for teachers’ physical and psychological wellbeing,requires high levels of resilience (Roeser et al., 2012) and a strong capability to regulate emotions effectively (Helsing, 2007; Schutz & Zembylas, 2009).Various antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation strategies are reported. Many of these strategies can also be considered risk-, asset-, or process focusedresilience-promoting strategies. Positive emotions potentially enhance resilience (Fredrickson, 2001; Hobfoll, 1989, 2001; Ong et al., 2006; Zautra et al., 2001), while the regulation of negative emotions reflects the idea that resilience is developed in the face of adversity (Gu & Day, 2007). Therefore the findings of this study contribute to closing the gap between literature focused on resilience andliterature concerned with the regulation of emotions by showing how emotion regulation strategies have the potential to promote resilience.Organisational support appears as a promising avenue to promote emotion regulation strategies and consequently resilience in employees in the context of educational organisations, fostering teachers’ personal and professional development. The role of the organisation appears to be crucial in this context. Various suggestions of participants how the organisation could provide support, form the base for a possible development of a training programme which could help teachers to enhance their individual resilience for their own good and the advantage of the organisation, which is a potential practical contribution.
Original languageEnglish
  • Fenwick, John, Supervisor
  • Purdie, Tony, Supervisor
  • Brown, Guy, Supervisor
Publication statusIn preparation - Jun 2013


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