Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 97–114 | Cite as

You are not alone: colleague support and goal-oriented cooperation as resources to reduce teachers’ stress

  • Anett WolgastEmail author
  • Natalie Fischer


The teaching profession is associated with high levels of perceived stress due to time constraints, heavy workload, and extra-curricular obligations. Teachers’ perceived stress affects the quality of their instruction and consequently their students’ motivation. According to social interdependence theory, frequent cooperative activities with colleagues may lead to more giving and receiving of support at the workplace. Research findings indicate that colleague support serves as a resource for teachers and has a positive influence on their performance. However, the relationship between teachers’ perceived stress, goal-oriented cooperation with colleagues, and support of one another has been explored rarely. The theoretical background has not been applied to teachers in Germany. In this longitudinal study, 2648 teachers completed the same questionnaire at a first measurement wave (Time 1), a second wave 2 years later (Time 2), and a third measurement wave 2 years after that (Time 3). We aimed to test the mediation hypothesis that teachers’ perceived stress is affected by frequent cooperative lesson planning with colleagues via colleague support. The dependent variable was teachers’ perceived stress at Time 3. Teachers’ perceived stress correlated negatively with colleague support at Time 2, and this correlated positively with the frequency of cooperation at Time 1. Our results indicate that reduced perceived stress was indirectly associated with frequent cooperation in reaching the common goal of planning lessons via colleague support among teachers. These findings might be used to help school principals ensure cooperation among teachers and thereby keep stress levels low and the quality of teaching high.


Teachers’ stress Colleague support Frequency of cooperation 



This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Social Fund.


  1. Bartholomew, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., Cuevas, R., & Lonsdale, C. (2014). Job pressure and ill-health in physical education teachers: The mediating role of psychological need thwarting. Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 101–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Böhm-Kasper, O., Bos, W., Jaeckel, S., & Weishaupt, H. (2000). EBIDas Erfurter belastungs-inventar zur erfassung von belastung und beanspruchung von lehrern und schülern am gymnasium [EBIthe erfurt teacher and student stress assessment at a gymnasium]. Erfurt: Pädagogische Hochschule. Retrieved from
  3. Booth, B., Hill, M. F., & Dixon, H. (2014). The assessment-capable teacher: Are we all on the same page? Assessment Matters, 6, 137–157. Retrieved from
  4. Collie, R. J., Shapka, J. D., & Perry, N. E. (2012). School climate and social-emotional learning: Predicting teacher stress, job satisfaction, and teaching efficacy. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 1189–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Motivation, personality, and development within embedded social contexts: An overview of self-determination theory. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.), Oxford handbook of human motivation (pp. 85–107). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Deutsch, M. (2011). Cooperation and competition. In P. T. Coleman (Ed.), Conflict, interdependence, and justice (pp. 23–40). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dimmock, C. (2013). School-based management and school effectiveness. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Egodawatte, G., McDougall, D., & Stoilescu, D. (2011). The effects of teacher collaboration in grade 9 applied mathematics. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 10(3), 189–209. doi: 10.1007/s10671-011-9104-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Enders, C. K. (2010). Applied missing data analysis. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fernet, C., Guay, F., Senécal, C., & Austin, S. (2012). Predicting intraindividual changes in teacher burnout: The role of perceived school environment and motivational factors. Teaching and teacher education, 28, 514–525. Retrieved from
  11. Fischer, N., & Klieme, E. (2013). Quality and effectiveness of German all-day schools: Results of the study on the development of all-day schools. In J. Ecarius, E. Klieme, L. Stecher, & J. Woods (Eds.), Extended Education—an International Perspective (pp. 27–52). Opladen: Budrich.Google Scholar
  12. Gallimore, R., & Goldenberg, C. (2001). Analyzing cultural models and settings to connect minority achievement and school improvement research. Educational Psychologist, 36(1), 45–56. Retrieved from
  13. Graham, J. W. (2009). Missing data analysis: Making it work in the real world. Annual Review of Psychology, 60(1), 549–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henderson, M. B., Lergetporer, P., Peterson, P. E., Werner, K., West, M. R., & Woessmann, L. (2015). Is Seeing Believing? How Americans and Germans Think about their Schools.
  15. Hobfoll, S. E. (1998). Stress, culture, and community. New York: Plenum Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hochweber, J., Steinert, B., & Klieme, E. (2012). Lehrerkooperation, Unterrichtsqualität und Lernergebnisse im Fach Englisch [Teacher cooperation, instructional quality and achievement in the subject English]. Unterrichtswissenschaft [Instructional Research], 40(4), 351–370. Retrieved from
  17. Horn, I. S. (2007). Fast kids, slow kids, lazy kids: Framing the mismatch problem in math teachers’ conversations. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 16(1), 37–79. Retrieved from
  18. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2003). Training for cooperative group work. In M. West, D. Tjosvold, & K. Smith (Eds.), International handbook of organizational teamwork and cooperative working (pp. 167–183). London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  19. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2005). New developments in social interdependence theory. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 131(4), 285–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2009). An educational psychology success story: Social interdependence theory and cooperative learning. Educational Researcher, 38(5), 365–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kelchtermans, G. (2006). Teacher collaboration and collegiality as workplace conditions. A review. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 52(2), 220–237. Retrieved from
  22. Kennedy, M. M. (2005). Inside teaching: How classroom life undermines reform. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klassen, R. M., & Chiu, M. M. (2010). Effects on teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction: Teacher gender, years of experience, and job stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 741–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Klusmann, U., Kunter, M., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O., & Baumert, J. (2008). Teacher occupational well-being and quality of instruction: The important role of self-regulatory patterns. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 702–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher stress: Directions for future research. Educational Review, 53(1), 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  27. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  28. Lieberman, A. (1986). Collaborative research: Working with, not working on. Educational Leadership, 43(5), 29–32. Retrieved from
  29. Little, J. W. (2012). Understanding data use practices among teachers: The contribution of micro-process studies. American Journal of Education, 118(2), 143–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lossen, K., Rollett, W., & Willems A. S. (2013). Organisationskulturelle Bedingungen auf der Schulebene. [Organizational conditions at the school level]. Zeitschrift für Grundschulforschung [Elementary Research Journal], 6(2), 38–52. Retrieved from
  31. Louis, K. S., Marks, H. M., & Kruse, S. D. (1996). Teachers’ professional community in restructuring schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33(4), 757–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lüdtke, O., Trautwein, U., Kunter, M., & Baumert, J. (2006). Reliability and agreement of student ratings of the classroom environment: A reanalysis of TIMSS data. Learning Environments Research, 9(3), 215–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maag Merki, K. (2014). Conducting intervention studies on school improvement. Journal of Educational Administration, 52(5), 590–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Muthén, B. (2011). Applications of causally defined direct and indirect effects in mediation analysis using SEM in Mplus.
  35. Oberle, E., & Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2016). Stress contagion in the classroom? The link between classroom teacher burnout and morning cortisol in elementary school students. Social Science and Medicine, 159, 30–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Opfer, V. D., & Pedder, D. (2010). Benefits, status and effectiveness of continuous professional development for teachers in England. The Curriculum Journal, 21(4), 413–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pituch, K. A., & Stapleton, L. M. (2011). Hierarchical linear and structural equation modeling approaches to mediation analysis in randomized field experiments. In M. Williams, & P. Vogt (Eds.), Handbook of Innovation in Social Research Methods (pp. 590–619). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Retrieved from
  38. Quellenberg, H. (2009). Studie zur Entwicklung von Ganztagsschulen (StEG)ausgewählte Hintergrundvariablen, Skalen und Indices der ersten Erhebungswelle [Study on the development of all-day schoolsfirst survey wave background variables, scales and indices]. Materialien zur Bildungsforschung. Band 24 [Materials on educational research, Volume 24], Frankfurt: DIPF. Retrieved from
  39. Roeser, R., Schonert-Reichl, K., Jha, A., Wilensky, R., Oberle, E., Thomson, K., et al. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control field trials. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 787–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2010). Teacher self-efficacy and teacher burnout: A study of relations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 1059–1069. Retrieved from
  41. Skovholt, T. M., & Trotter-Mathison, M. (2011). The resilient practitioner. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, C., & Gillespie, M. (2007). Research on professional development and teacher change: Implications for adult basic education. Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, 7, 205–244. Retrieved from
  43. Steinert, B., Klieme, E., Maag Merki, K., Döbrich, P., Halbheer, U., & Kunz, A. (2006). Lehrerkooperation in der Schule: Konzeption, Erfassung, Ergebnisse [Teacher cooperation in a school: Concepts, assessment, results]. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik [Journal of Education], 52(2), 185–204. Retrieved from
  44. Trötschel, R., Hüffmeier, J., Loschelder, D., Schwartz, K., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2011). Perspective taking as a means to overcome motivational barriers in negotiations: When putting oneself into the opponent’s shoes helps to walk toward agreements. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(4), 771–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. van Buuren, S. (2012). Flexible imputation of missing data. Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Van den Broeck, A., Vansteenkiste, M., De Witte, H., & Lens, W. (2008). Explaining the relationships between job characteristics, burnout, and engagement: The role of basic psychological need satisfaction. Work and Stress, 22(3), 277–294. Retrieved from
  47. vbw – Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V. [The Bavarian industry association]. (2014). Psychische belastungen und burnout beim bildungspersonal [Psychological stress and burnout in educational staff]. Münster: Waxmann.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyMartin-Luther-University Halle-WittenbergHalle (Saale)Germany
  2. 2.Universität KasselKasselGermany

Personalised recommendations