CE  Vol.11 No.9 , September 2020
Research on the Professional Stress of University Teachers—Take the Universities in Anyang City, Henan Province as an Example
Abstract: The professional pressure of university teachers not only affects the quality of higher education, but also affects the stability of teachers. This paper makes a questionnaire survey on the occupational stress of some teachers in different levels of colleges and universities in Anyang City, Henan Province. The results show that: a considerable number of teachers have greater pressure on teaching and scientific research. There are obvious differences in the pressure of teachers with different gender, professional title, age, school level and major. The pressure source can be divided into internal pressure source and external pressure source. Society, schools and individuals should attach great importance to it. Schools should appropriately reduce teachers’ teaching and research burden, society and family should understand and support more, teachers themselves should adjust their own mentality, in order to reduce occupational pressure, maintain and promote mental health.

1. Introduction

With the emergence of knowledge economy and the increasingly distinct role of education in social progress, as one of the main bodies of teaching activities, the mission of teachers is both sacred and arduous. The changes of internal and external environment in Colleges and Universities as well as the particularity of College Teachers’ profession have caused great psychological pressure in teaching, scientific research and physical and mental aspects. The occupational stress of university teachers is reflected in fatigue, anxiety, depression, decline in work ability and low efficiency (Peng, 2008). Appropriate pressure has a positive effect, but too much pressure will have a certain negative effect. The long-term excessive occupational pressure not only affects teachers’ physical and mental health, but also causes problems, such as teachers’ dissatisfaction, passivity, high turnover rate and absence, which not only affects the quality of higher education, but also affects the stability of the teaching staff.

The professional pressure of university teachers is manifested in many aspects, among which the most prominent is the pressure of teaching and scientific research. Compared with the pressure of university teachers, the task of scientific research is greater. The scientific research strength of university teachers has become the main weapon in the competition of colleges and universities, and has become an important standard to judge the treatment of teachers and the level of professional titles.

The excessive workload of scientific research not only seriously affects the normal life and health of teachers, but also causes physical fatigue. The system of linking scientific research with salary and title also causes teachers’ psychological tension. The phenomenon of using scientific research achievements as the evaluation standard of teachers has almost become a rigid system in most colleges and universities. To relieve the pressure of University Teachers’ scientific research can not only give them a relaxed working state, but also promote the production of high-quality scientific research achievements.

In this survey and analysis, we take 4 universities in Anyang City, Henan Province as the investigation target, involving different types, including Anyang Institute of Technology, Anyang Normal University, Henan Nursing Vocational College and Anyang Vocational and Technical College. Through the specific investigation of the teachers in these four schools, we can understand the source of scientific research pressure. At the same time, it also provides theoretical guidance for strengthening the management of teachers’ pressure. It can also improve the quality of human capital and the level of teaching, learning and research in Colleges and Universities.

2. Research Object and Research Method

The samples of this study are from four different types of universities in Anyang City, Henan Province, including Anyang Institute of technology, Anyang Normal University, Henan nursing vocational college and Anyang vocational and technical college. The survey objects are full-time university teachers engaged in teaching or scientific research, and the distribution is shown in Table 1.

There are 200 male teachers and 200 female teachers; 100 under 30 years old, 100 31 - 40 years old, 100 41 - 50 years old, and 100 over 50 years old; 100 teachers with less than 5 years of teaching experience, 100 people with 6 - 15 years old, 140 with 16 - 25 years old, 60 with more than 25 years; 100 with bachelor’s degree or below, 200 with master’s degree and 100 with doctor’s degree; 100 assistant teachers, 100 lecturers, 100 associate professors and 100 professors; The subjects involved include medicine, management, social psychology, philosophy, economics, engineering and so on. The sample includes teachers with different demographic characteristics such as gender, which ensures the reliability of the follow-up analysis conclusion.

Affected by the epidemic situation, this study adopts the method of network questionnaire survey. A total of 400 questionnaires were distributed by random sampling from June to August in 2019, of which 380 were valid, and the effective rate was 95%.According to the questionnaire, the higher the stress level was, the higher the score was, the higher the score was 380 questionnaires were collected and analyzed.

Table 1. Distribution of subjects (N = 400).

3. Results

3.1. Specific Distribution of Occupational Stress

3.1.1. Analysis of Teaching and Research Pressure of Teachers at Different School Levels (Figure 1)

According to the level of running a university, the ability of teachers, the achievements of scientific research, the overall quality of graduates, hardware facilities and other comprehensive factors, the university is also divided into different levels. The requirements for teachers’ scientific research achievements and teaching quality are different, and the pressure on teachers is also different.

Figure 1. Teacher stress map in different schools.

The results show that the peak value of pressure distribution is different in different school levels.

It can be seen from the data that teachers of Anyang Normal University, Anyang Institute of technology, Henan nursing vocational college and Anyang vocational and technical college generally feel pressure, but the pressure level is different. The overall pressure of teachers in Anyang vocational and technical college is low, with 49% of mild pressure, and 70% of the total of no pressure and mild pressure, followed by those of Anyang Institute of technology, with mild pressure of 41.2%; the teachers of Anyang Normal University have the highest moderate pressure, large pressure and severe pressure, and the sum of the three is about 70%; only 13.2% of the teachers in Henan Vocational College of nursing think that there is no pressure, and the mild pressure is 38%. Moderate pressure accounted for 23.3%, larger pressure was 15%, and severe pressure was 10.5%.

Anyang Normal University and Anyang Institute of Technology belong to ordinary undergraduate colleges and universities, which have many scientific research bases. Therefore, they attach more importance to scientific research results. Anyang vocational and technical college and Henan nursing vocational college belong to higher vocational schools, and their scientific research achievements and teaching achievements are not as high as those of undergraduate colleges. The improvement of school level will enhance the pressure of teachers’ teaching and research.

3.1.2. Analysis of Teaching and Research Pressure of Teachers in Different Disciplines (Figure 2)

Through the investigation of teachers of different disciplines in four universities in Anyang, it is found that the pressure of teaching and scientific research of teachers is different due to different discipline requirements. The subjects involved include philosophy, economics, law, pedagogy, literature (including art), history, science, engineering, agronomy, medicine and management.

Medical teachers had the highest occupational pressure, with a value of 3.39, followed by law, pedagogy, engineering and science, with 3.3, 2.89, 2.79 and 2.6, respectively; literature (including art), history, agronomy, economics, and

Figure 2. The pressure value of teachers of different subjects.

management had moderate pressure, which were 2.39, 2.22, 2.15, 2.1 and 2.02 respectively, while philosophy teachers had the least pressure, which was 1.9. Different disciplines also indirectly affect teachers’ professional pressure.

Medical teachers have great pressure on teaching and scientific research. First of all, the medical discipline itself has a certain depth. The importance of medical discipline determines the strict requirements of medical teachers in Colleges and universities and society. For example, some clinical trials need to invest a lot of time and energy, which leads to teachers must be highly cautious in teaching and scientific research activities, which makes them tired of teaching and scientific research and feel great pressure. Philosophy teachers have the least professional pressure.

3.1.3. Analysis of Teaching and Research Pressure of Teachers in Different Age Groups (Figure 3)

The results show that: among the teachers in four universities in Anyang, 40% of the teachers are 31 - 40 years old, nearly half of them are teachers aged 31 - 40; 25% are teachers aged 21 - 30; 20% are teachers aged 41 - 50; 15% are teachers over 50 years old. The main reason is that 31 - 40 years old are in the family with the elderly at the top and the elderly at the bottom. They need to bear the huge pressure of family survival. Young teachers have just entered the workplace and have great teaching pressure, which makes the scientific research pressure of young teachers is much higher than that of other age groups.

Figure 3. Teaching and research pressure of university teachers of different ages.

3.1.4. Analysis of Teaching and Research Pressure of Teachers of Different Genders (Figure 4)

Teachers shoulder the responsibility of training a new generation of people, their physical and mental pressure cannot be ignored. In the face of the high requirements of the outside world and the school for teachers about teaching and scientific research, male teachers and female teachers because of different psychological bearing capacity, so the size of the pressure will be different.

The results show that both male and female teachers have different degrees of pressure on scientific research teaching. Teachers of different genders have different pressure distribution in teaching and research.

In the data of stress distribution, only 15% of male teachers think “no pressure”, and 85% think they have pressure; the proportion of female teachers with pressure is higher, reaching 90.1%. The pressure of teaching and research of female teachers is generally higher than that of male teachers, with 80% of them being moderate or above; the sum of the three is about 75%; the greater pressure of female teachers is 39.1%, which is higher than 32% of male teachers; the difference between the two is not significant.

Generally speaking, male teachers have a strong psychological endurance and a certain degree of pressure resistance. Therefore, the requirements of male teachers in schools will be heavier than that of female teachers. The heavy responsibility will also bring a lot of pressure to male teachers. However, because of their strong ability to resist pressure, male teachers have more moderate pressure than female teachers.

For female teachers, their physical and mental health needs our attention. At present, most of the female teachers in Colleges and universities in our country have master’s or doctor’s degrees. They have many kinds of psychological pressure, and they are experiencing more and heavier pressure than ever before. These increasing psychological pressure is almost beyond the limits that they can bear, directly affecting their physical and mental health, hindering their professional development, reducing their sense of satisfaction from work, affecting the normal play of their working ability, leading to the decline of teaching quality, and greatly weakening the relationship between teachers and students, which has

Figure 4. Gender pressure.

a negative impact on the formation of students’ healthy personality (Zheng, Chen, & Wang, 2005). There are more male teachers than female teachers.

3.1.5. The Pressure of Teaching and Scientific Research of Different Professional Titles Is Different (Figure 5)

Nowadays, almost every university will choose to use scientific research and teaching results to assess teachers, even as the standard of professional title promotion, so the level of professional title also affects the pressure of teaching and scientific research of university teachers.

The results show that the occupational stress of college teachers with different professional titles has reached the symptoms of stress, and there are significant differences among teachers with different professional titles. Among them, lecturers have the greatest occupational pressure, followed by associate professors, professors and teaching assistants. The difference of professional pressure of university teachers with different professional titles also shows the pressure brought by the problem of evaluation and appointment of professional titles.

Figure 5. Pressure value of teachers with different professional titles.

3.2. Pressure Sources and Influencing Factors

This part will make a deep analysis of the sources of the pressure of teaching and scientific research of university teachers. We divide the influencing factors into external sources and internal sources. The external sources include social factors, school system and management style, working conditions and workload factors, while the internal sources mainly include career development factors and student factors.

3.2.1. External Pressure Sources of University Teachers

1) Pressure brought by deepening reform of colleges and universities

In recent years, colleges and universities are carrying out a series of extensive and profound reforms. There are some new factors, such as the income gap of teachers and the imperfect distribution mechanism.

New teaching modes such as MOOC, flipped classroom and micro course based on Internet, big data and other information technologies have brought many challenges to traditional teaching, forcing teachers’ work skills to change accordingly. In the face of the new situation, teachers need to constantly update the concept of education, improve the ability of curriculum development and modern educational technology. Teachers have many maladjustments in terms of knowledge level and teaching ability. In order to improve the teaching quality, the school set up a supervision group to listen to the class at random, hold a student forum to listen to the students’ opinions on the teacher’s class, grade the teacher in the evaluation of teacher’s professional title, and implement “one vote veto” on the quality of teaching. These measures have played a certain role in improving the quality of teaching, but their negative effects are also obvious.

Facing the new situation, the teaching and scientific research oriented evaluation mechanism in Colleges and universities is not perfect, such as single evaluation subject, unscientific evaluation index and unreasonable evaluation method. The evaluation function ignores the development, carries on the horizontal comparison, ignores the longitudinal self comparison, pays more attention to the evaluation result, neglects the process evaluation. At the same time, the assessment results are linked with personal career development, salary and professional title evaluation, which makes the pressure of teachers increase.

Colleges and universities have carried out reform in the income distribution system. Some colleges and universities have expanded the ratio of the highest income to the lowest income to 8:1 or even greater. There is also a certain gap in the actual economic income between teachers with project funds and teachers without subject funds, administrative personnel with job consumption and ordinary teachers without job consumption, which brings heavy pressure to ordinary teachers.

2) Pressure from heavy workload

Heavy workload is also an important source of College Teachers’ professional pressure. First of all, teachers work long hours and have heavy teaching tasks. In fact, the actual working time of university teachers cannot be measured by 8 hours a day, and many hidden labor efforts of teachers cannot be measured. Teachers’ teaching work mainly includes classroom teaching, lesson preparation, homework correction and correction, making and marking test papers, extracurricular counseling, etc. In addition to the above-mentioned heavy teaching work, teachers sometimes have to undertake some other work projects, such as guiding extracurricular activities, various competition activities, teaching and research activities, and sometimes have to deal with various forms of evaluation and inspection activities of schools and superior administrative departments. The numerous educational and teaching activities and other kinds of activities undoubtedly become a heavy burden for teachers.

Secondly, the pressure of the course is great. Through the investigation, we know that many of the teachers who take up these teaching tasks tend to switch from other disciplines or teach two or more subjects at the same time. Many teachers in Vanke school call themselves arts teachers. Psychology teachers teach management, economics teachers teach politics, literature teachers teach advertising, and so on. However, due to the shortage of teaching tasks and the establishment of the school, there are no follow-up measures in the allocation and training of teachers, and the school has not given enough opportunities for teachers to continue learning, which makes many teachers feel inadequate and increases the workload of teachers.

3) The pressure brought by economic income distress

Although the social status and material treatment of teachers have been greatly improved in recent years, they are far from being enviable. At the same time, due to insufficient investment in education funds, teachers’ other income is relatively low, social status has not been substantially improved, it is easy to doubt the original values and lead to a sense of unfairness. At the same time, teachers have to face the burden of housing, medical care, children’s education and so on. Young teachers have to set up a family, so the economic pressure is greater. The consumption and expectation of the family are also higher and higher, but the teachers’ salary cannot fully meet the family’s expenses and expectations. The survey of the current situation of human resources in school shows that more than half of the teachers think that their current income is low. In addition, family relations and children’s education are also sources of pressure.

4) Pressure from high social expectations

The multiple roles of teachers bring psychological pressure to teachers. Teachers are not only managers, but also managed people. The dual roles of teachers form different psychological characteristics from other classes. The different values, goals and aspirations of teachers form different types of teachers, such as scientific dedication, career dedication, mobility and life. These types are often intertwined, which are reflected in some teachers and inevitably lead to role conflicts in real life and work. At the same time, in the traditional education and teaching work, the main role of teachers is to preach, impart knowledge and solve doubts. Under the new conditions, with the deepening of education reform, the role of teachers has diversity. The nature of teachers’ work determines that teachers should play multiple roles (Ren & Wang, 2007) the multi-faceted role switching easily leads to teachers’ psychological contradictions and conflicts, and causes teachers’ psychological pressure.

The psychological pressure brought by the long-term neglect of teachers’ diversity needs. The society praises teachers with the spirit of spring silkworm and candle, which emphasizes more dedication and responsibility, but ignores the needs and gains of teachers as ordinary people, and lacks the warmth and care for teachers. In the face of the diversification of teachers, the psychological problems caused by the diversification of teachers are aggravated.

3.2.2. Internal Pressure Sources of University Teachers

The lack of psychological counseling channels brings psychological pressure to teachers. In the investigated universities, only psychological counseling is aimed at students, while psychological counseling for teachers is not. There is a big gap between self-set expectation and self ability. When you have high expectations, you can’t achieve them. Teachers themselves lack of correct psychological adjustment means, which will lead to psychological problems over time. Once the psychological problems of teachers occur, they will lead to teachers’ lack of love for students and even treat education with a negative attitude, which will have a great negative impact on Colleges and universities and education.

3.3. Suggestions and Measures

3.3.1. Establish a Scientific and Reasonable Teacher Evaluation Mechanism to Reduce the Teaching Burden

In the process of organizational management reform, the school should form a people-oriented management mode and pay attention to the construction of incentive system and incentive culture. We should adhere to the principles of openness, fairness and fairness, pay attention to the actual situation of teachers, pay attention to the differences, nature and characteristics of teachers’ work in different majors and positions, and establish a scientific teacher assessment and evaluation system, which focuses on quantitative assessment, combines quantitative assessment with qualitative assessment, objectively reflects the real situation of teachers’ work in different majors and posts.

It is necessary to establish diversified evaluation subjects, set up quantifiable scientific evaluation indexes, combine various evaluation methods, pay more attention to the development of evaluation function, not only horizontal comparison, but also vertical development of teachers, and emphasize the mechanism of combining process evaluation with evaluation result evaluation. In the aspect of scientific research management, it is necessary to improve the evaluation mechanism of peer experts, actively explore the establishment of evaluation methods with “representative achievements” and actual contributions as the main content, and take innovative and revealing academic achievements as an important basis for evaluating teachers’ scientific research work (National Department of Education, 2016). We should try to avoid frequent statistics and publicity, encourage or reward divorced from reality, abandon the one-sided pursuit of the number of articles or the publication level of articles, so as to reduce the unnecessary psychological pressure of teachers. Establish a salary incentive mechanism linked with scientific evaluation mechanism, and build a diversified and multi-level incentive mode.

3.3.2. Encourage External Support

In the spirit of seeking truth from facts, colleges and universities should constantly improve the existing unreasonable system, respect the personality characteristics of different teachers, give full play to their respective expertise, provide teachers with a platform to fully display their talents, let teachers obtain a sense of achievement and satisfaction in their career, and provide comprehensive protection for teachers in both material and spiritual aspects, so that they can devote themselves to their work wholeheartedly, In this way, it is possible to build a high-quality teacher team full of vitality and creativity. Teachers’ families should give more encouragement and help teachers to relieve their pressure.

3.3.3. Teachers Should Adjust Their Mentality and Relieve Psychological Pressure

As a university teacher, we should face up to the reality, keep an optimistic spirit, be willing and good at getting along with others, so as to adapt to all kinds of favorable or unfavorable living and working environment.

Learn to recognize oneself and pressure through syndrome differentiation. In the face of pressure, teachers should learn to adjust their emotions reasonably, actively seek social support, and correctly deal with the gains and losses in their work and life. Always keep optimistic and confident healthy mood, grasp and control one’s emotions, treat setbacks with broad mind and keep a peaceful mind, so as to reduce their psychological pressure, reduce the occurrence of psychological problems, and maintain mental health. Establish good interpersonal relationship and improve the ability of effective communication. The sense of comfort, mutual help, and self-improvement.

The discussion article is aimed at the special group of college teachers. Through the questionnaire survey method, the college teachers of different genders, different titles, different educational backgrounds and different professional backgrounds are surveyed and analyzed from many aspects, and on this basis, they propose ways to cope with pressure. A series of strategies. In short, the teaching and scientific research pressure faced by college teachers should arouse the full attention of the whole society, carefully analyze and adopt corresponding strategies to effectively reduce the pressure on teachers, and promote the harmonious development of my country’s higher education.

The collection of information in this article is based on questionnaires. The design of questions and answers is subjective to a certain extent. The scope of the questionnaire survey is relatively small, and the survey process is limited to the questionnaire itself.

Cite this paper: Liu, X. (2020) Research on the Professional Stress of University Teachers—Take the Universities in Anyang City, Henan Province as an Example. Creative Education, 11, 1679-1689. doi: 10.4236/ce.2020.119122.

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[3]   Ren, D. B., & Wang, G. Q. (2007). Analysis of Causes and Countermeasures for Psychological Stress of College Teachers. Modern Education Science.

[4]   Zheng, H. Z., Chen, G. X., & Wang, X. Z. (2005). Work Stress and Mental Health of Young Female College Teachers. China Science and Technology Information.