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Emotionally Exhausted Teachers affect Student’s Performance Negatively

15. June 2016

Primary school pupils demonstrate poor performance in maths when instructed by emotionally exhausted teachers. Psychologists recently reported this finding in a recently published article in “Journal of Educational Psychology”. A team of experts evaluated over 22 000 students and interviewed the teachers about their emotional exhaustion. The link between excessive stress and poor results in mathematics was above all evident in classes where a large proportion of students did not speak German in their home environment.

Findings from empirical studies demonstrate that a teacher’s motivation and knowledge is crucial for students’ motivation and learning. It is assumed that teacher’s stress levels and state of burnout influences children’s achievements. Uta Klausmann , professor for empirical educational research at IPN in Kiel focused on teacher’s emotional exhaustion in her study.

Data analysis carried out by the Institute for Educational Quality Improvement

Researchers analysed data compiled by the Institute for Educational Quality Improvement (IQB) in primary schools. This was compiled in 2011 and covered data from 1102 mathematics teachers and their 22 002 pupils. The teachers made statements about their emotional exhaustion, their professional experience and their qualifications as well as their gender. The pupils worked on standardised tests which recorded their mathematical abilities, their general cognitive abilities and their motivation. Additionally, 16 737 parents answered questions dealing with socio-economic family issues (profession, educational level and income level). They furthermore stated which language is spoken with the children in the domestic environment.

Children with a migration background in the classroom intensifies the context

It became evident: the more emotionally exhausted the teachers, the lower the achievements of the pupils in maths. This slight - but at the same time relevant -effect occurred independently from other attributes of the pupils. Especially in classes with a high proportion of children with a migration background, the negative correlation between the emotional exhaustion of the teachers and the maths results was evident. The researcher team presumed that the emotionally exhausted teachers were not able to release sufficient resources in order to deal with the high diversity that would be adequate to address the special needs of the children. Uta Klusmann subsumes “The findings demonstrate that not only the professional quality of the teachers is important for the pupils, but also their affective experiences“

You can read the original study under the following link:

Klusmann, U., Richter, D., & Lüdtke, O. (2016, April 7). Teachers’ Emotional Exhaustion Is Negatively Related to Students’ Achievement: Evidence From a Large-Scale Assessment Study. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Professor Uta Klusmann
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