The negative impact of peer support on teacher burnout

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The present study examined the effects of peer support in buffering the adverse impact of spurning on burnout. The literature on social support suggests that social support can promote health and reduce the negative effects of stress on well-being (e.g., Dakof & Taylor, 1990). There is also indication that support from certain sources is relatively more effective (e.g., Rodin & Salovey, 1989). It has been shown that, for classroom teachers, support from supervisor is more therapeutic in buffering the adverse effects of stress on health and job commitment than support from peers, due presumably to the relatively greater assurance on one's self-worth implicated by supervisor's support (Cheek, Wong, & Rosen, 1994; Russell, Altmaier, & Van Velzen, 1987). We suspected that the observed ineffectiveness of peer support might have been contributed by measurements which were contaminated by the negative correlates of support, such as the need to respond to a seeming initiation of relationship, a felt obligation to reciprocate support in future, of a sense of dependence on others in receiving support. Accordingly, in the present study, we examined, in the context of teachers attempting to cope with the stressor of recurrent resistance of their offers of help by students (spurning), both the positive and negative effects of support from peers. Ninety-four secondary school teachers in Macau responded to a questionnaire that contained measures of spurning, the extent of support from one's peers, burnout, the extent of felt obligation to reciprocate help, and the extent of felt dependence on others in receiving help. The results showed, as hypothesized, that after partialling out the negative impact associated with the receipt of support, peer support was found to reduce the impact of spurning on burnout. The results thus suggested the need to simultaneously consider the negative effects of social support, along with its positive effects in buffering the impact of stress.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996


Cheuk, W. H., & Wong, K. S. T. (1996, November). The negative impact of peer support on teacher burnout. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 13th Annual Conference: Restructuring Schools in Changing Societies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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