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Quality of work life: perceptions of Jordanian special education teachers.

Introduction

Educational literature indicates that special education teachers experience many work related tribulations that affect their quality of life and well-being. For instance, special education teachers experience burnout, that is a response to chronic stress in jobs (Onder & Sari, 2009) rather than regular teachers (Platsidou & Agaliotis, 2008). This stress is caused by set of sources, such as the lack of time, caseloads work (Cook & Downing, 2005; Al-Natour, 2008; Wilson, 2002), role conflict (Billingsley, 2004), community's attitudes toward teacher (Haughey & Murphy, 2001), schedules, lack of administrative understanding to make these schedules, and lack of their possession of communication skills and the adult/adult interaction skills they need to work together effectively (Cook & Downing, 2005). Folostina & Tudorache's (2012) reported inadequate staff for the big volume of students with severe disabilities, low income, and inadequate sources of the schools.

In addition, according to the recent Al-Natour's final report for the ministry of education MOE, Jordanian special education teachers face negative attitudes from regular teachers because of their beliefs that special education teacher roles and responsibilities are lower than their's (Al-Natour, 2008). Moreover, working in teaching field involves a multiplicity of diverse factors which contain: teaching; attaining new information and skills; being continually updated with technological advancement; and contacting students, families, and the community (Pillay, Goddard, & Wilss, 2005). However, the field necessitates highly skilled teachers to work with children with disabilities in diverse educational settings (Wilcox, Putnam, & Wigle, 2003).

Accordingly, these stress resources and troubles experienced by teachers have a negative impact, which may lead to diseases, decadent mental and physical health (e.g., headache and blood pressure) and psychological reflexes (e.g., depression and anxiety). Beside these problems cause eventually exhaustion, and leaving works (Brown, Ottilia, Howcroft, Greg, Jacobs, & Tracey, 2009).

Traditionally, work has been a vital part in the life of individuals (Boonrod, 2009; Feizabadi, Hamidi, Khatibzadeh, & Ghamati, 2012), since 65% of useful life of individual is spent in working (Toulabi, Raoufi, & Allahpourashra, 2013). However, Since 1970, QOWL has become one of the important elements for WHO (Feizabadi, Hamidi, Khatibzadeh, & Ghamati, 2012). Walton (2007) stressed that QOWL was a central approach to save human and social values which have been overlooked because of technological improvement of the economic growth and productivity.

QOWL term is based on the believe that human beings are the most important source in the institute as they are truthful, responsible and capable of making important input and they must be treated with dignity and respect (Tabassum, Rahman, & Jahan, 2011). Particularly, the quality of school life is "a synthesis of positive experiences, negative experiences, and other feelings related to specific school life domains" (Leonard, 2002, p. 55). Hence, to measure QOWL, there are specific instruments used for this purpose, such as The Work-related Quality of Life Scale (WRQOLS) (Shike, Naesinee, Jirapom, Bin, & Nutjaree, 2013).

From the other hand, some studies indicated that QOWL variables may affect in teachers in a set of forms. For example, it affects their commitment level (Louis, 1998), life satisfaction (Demirel, 2014) and happiness (Toulabi, Raoufi, & Allahpourashra, 2013).

Although research has uncovered QOWL, there are very few studies in which QOWL was investigated (Onder & Sari, 2009; Kanten & Sadullah, 2012; Shahbazi, Shokrzadeh, Bejani, Malekinia, & Ghoroneh, 2011). Yet, there is increasing number of research studies that investigate the QOWL among teachers. For instance, in a study of Onder and Sari (2009) examined how teachers' perceptions about wellbeing is predicted by their perceptions about the quality of school life and burnout levels. Findings indicated that teachers' perceptions of well-being levels were predicted significantly by the Quality of School Life Scale sub-factors, and burnout scale sub-factor, namely "coping work-related stress.".

In their study, Kanten and Sadullah (2012) investigated the relationships between QOWL and work engagement. Results showed that there were significant relations between domain of QOWL and work engagement. In another study, Feizabadi, Hamidi, Khatibzadeh, and Ghamati (2012) conducted study, aimed at identifying the relationship between job stress and the quality of life in sport teachers. The result of this study indicated that, there were no significant differences among the stress with fair pay, provide growth opportunities, legislation in organization, social dependence of work life, overall life space, social integrity, and develop human ability.

In a more recent study, the relationship between teachers' happiness and the working life quality was investigated by Toulabi, Raoufi, and Allahpourashra (2013). The results showed that the components of working fife quality (payment rate, professional development opportunity, promotion opportunity, management support, involvement in decision making, work place security) are the variables that have relationship with teachers' happiness.

In a study of the relationship between joband life satisfaction among teachers, Demirel (2014) concluded that the level of job satisfaction among teachers was moderate. The life-satisfaction score was assessed as being above the moderate level. A significant correlation was revealed between life satisfaction and job satisfaction. Job satisfaction of general teachers and preschool teachers, and life satisfaction of female teachers were found to be more high.

On the other hand, QOWL has been identified by Rastegari, Khani, Ghalriz, and Eslamian (2010) as helpftd for institutes effort to develop plans and measures to retain employee, advance their working capability, and eventually, protect them from excessive work-related pressure and other psychosocial workplace risks. Havlovic (1991) described QOWL as a valuable indicator for organizational management reforms, since it is a wide construct concerning job satisfaction and other factors related to personal tonicity and organizational goals.

Nationally, Jordan has adopted Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) II, which includes improvement the status of teachers, as they are central element for reform and change process (MOE, 2014). However, practices in the schools suggest that teacher's condition does not improve yet. This necessitates conducting research to identify QOWL of special education teachers. According to our knowledge, the current study is perhaps the first one exploring the perceptions of Jordanian special education teacher about their QOWL.

Consequently, the current study reports the findings of a survey study which aimed at exploring special education teachers' QOWL by answering:

1. What is the level of quality of work life of special education teachers?

2. Do the level of quality of work life of special education teachers differs due to teacher's gender, education levels, and type of school (mainstreaming and special education school)?

Methods

Design

This research employed a descriptive method design, where a survey was used to gather data about the level of QOWL. The level of QOWL represented the dependent variables. Teacher's gender, education level, and type of school represented the independent variables.

Sample and setting

The sample of the present study consisted of a total of 133 special education teachers (28 males and 105 females) holding fulltime teaching positions in public schools situated in the capital city of Jordan-Amman during the academic year of 2013/2014. Among the 133 teachers, 71 working in mainstreaming schools that provide services for learning disability students were randomly selected. Meanwhile, 62 special education teachers working in 2 special schools for hearing impairment and 2 special schools for visual impairment were purposefully selected. The distribution of the study sample is shown in Table 1.

Instrumentation and Implementation

A survey instrument was developed to address the research questions posed in this study. A survey form consisted of two sections: Section I required teachers to provide demographic information by placing a check mark next to the items that applied. Section II was prepared to gather information about the level of the teachers' QOWL on 15 items using a five point Likert-type scale (ranged from (1) indicating "never; to (5) indicating "always.).

Seven experts were asked to review the items and provide feedback to authors, in order to establish the validity for the survey. All reviewers' comments and suggestions were taken into consideration and were incorporated in the final survey. All reviewers affirmed the validity of the survey and its ability to measure the level of the special teachers' QOWL. Reliability indices were determined by piloting the survey on sixteen teachers (not included in the study sample). The coefficient alpha statistics for level of the special teachers' QOWL scale .750, reflecting good levels of internal consistency.

The implementation process included contacting the Ministry of Education MOE in Jordan to provide a list of schools that provide special education services and numbers of special education teachers in these schools. One hundred and forty five special education teachers (i.e., 70 working in mainstreaming schools that provide services for learning disabilities students, 75 special education teachers working in 4 special schools) were selected. In a cover letter in the packet, principals were asked to distribute the instruments to the special education teachers and survey instruments were mailed to participants through their directorate of education of Amman districts. The questionnaires were returned in a sealed envelope to the researchers. Four weeks later, (133) questionnaires were sent back to the researchers out of (145), reflecting a return rate of (91,7%).

Data Analysis

The data were entered and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS-16.0). Descriptive statistics (e.g., frequencies, means, and standard deviations) were presented in the result section. In addition, One-Way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and independent samples t test were used to check for any significant mean differences that could be attributed to: teacher' gender, type of disability, and education level.

Results

Results of the first research question: What is the level of quality of work life of special education teachers?

To answer the first question, means and standard deviation were obtained. The scale used to measure the sample responses was divided into three levels; Low level of QOWL with means ranging (1-2.33), average level of QOWL with means ranging (2.34-3.66) and high level of QOWL with means ranging (3.67-5.00).

Table 2 shows teachers' responses on the scale that measures level of QOWL among teachers. As shown, the total mean score for this scale was (3.64) which indicates that special education teachers cited average level of QOWL. Teachers rated " My administrator and colleagues respect me " as a best item of QOWL scale with a mean score (4.58), followed by "Students and their families and community members respect me" with a mean score (4.55). As well, teachers rated " I participate in decision making in my school " as the lowest item of QOWL scale with a mean score (3.0), followed by "My colleagues provide me with instructions of teaching technique and curriculum and guidelines to behavior modification" (3.1), " I receive training courses for professional development" (3.26), "I feel satisfy of my income from my work as a teacher" (3.27), and " I interchange the classroom visits with my colleagues for teaching observation "(3.3).

Results of the second research question: Do the level of quality of work life of special education teachers differ due to teacher s gender, education levels, and type of school (mainstreaming and special education school)?

regarding teachers' gender, independent sample t-tests were conducted. Results of t-tests revealed no statistically significant mean differences between males and females on QOWL seen by special education teachers (t = -1.866, p < .834).

A One-Way ANOVA was administered to help determine the influence of the level of education on the total QOWL subscale score. The omnibus ANOVA statistic for this analysis revealed no statistically significant differences that could be attributed to level of education on the total QOWL variable for special education teachers (F = 1.502, p =.226).

With regard to type of school, independent sample t-tests were conducted. Results of t-tests revealed no statistically significant mean differences between mainstreaming and special education school on QOWL seen by special education teachers (t = -1.700, p < .621).

Finally, a One-Way ANOVA was administered to determine if QOWL varied according to the level of education. The omnibus ANOVA statistic for this analysis revealed no statistically significant differences that can be ascribed to level of education on the total QOWL variable for special education teachers (F = 1.502, p=.226).

Discussion

The evaluation of QOWL may be fundamental for the prevention of work-related diseases and in promoting the workers' health (Fernandes & Rocha, 2009). Consequently, assuring higher QOWL is critical for promoting teacher's quality and retention in special education (Billingsley, 2004), to be able to enhance the learning outcomes of students with special needs (Evers, Tomic, & Brouwers, 2004; Billingsley, 2004).

This study investigated the QOWL level of Jordanian special education teachers. In analysis of the results of the current study, a number of remarkable trends emerged. Findings suggested that special education teachers reported average level of QOWL in general. Research studies indicate divergent results related to QOWL of special education teacher. Folostina & Tudorache's (2012) indicated that the majority of the teachers stated moderate to high level degree of professional satisfaction. Whereas, Demirel's study (2014) revealed that the teachers had high levels of job satisfaction. Haughey & Murphy's (2001) indicated that only 22% of teachers were moderately or highly satisfied with their works.

The level of QOWL that is rated by Jordanian special education teachers may be hindered by many barriers which teachers face (Cook & Downing, 2005; Al-Natour, 2008; Barth, 2001; Chan, 1998; Durham, 1992; Wilson, 2002; Burke & Greenglass, 1995; Folostina & Tudorache, 2012; Cook and Downing, 2005).

From different angle, results showed that teachers rated " My administrator and colleagues respect me " as the best item of QOWL scale. This result differs with some research (e.g., Normore & Floyd, 2005; Marable & Raimondi, 2007; Erdemir, 2007) which indicated teachers dissatisfaction of administration, and, other research (e.g. Corrie, 2000; Hebert, 2002; Johnson, Kardos, Kauffman, Liu, & Donaldson, 2004) which showed teachers dissatisfaction of their colleagues.

This finding mirrors Haughey & Murphy's (2001) who mentioned that relationship with co-worker and adminstrators were sources of significant satisfaction of teachers. In addition, Narehan, Hairunnisa, Norfadzillah, & Freziamella (2014) mentioned that interpersonal relations was one of the most influence factors on QOWL. Moreover, this result supports the general view that the Jordanian public schools have strong social relationships network. Therefore, this status within Jordanian public school could have positive impact on enhancement the QOWL level of special education teachers.

However, National Association for the Education of Young Children NAEYC (2005) actuates teacher "To establish and maintain relationships of respect, trust, confidentiality, collaboration, and cooperation with co-workers " (p. 5). As well, poor relationships among school have been cited as a source of burnout for special educators, and they have a negative influence on retention decisions (Billingsley, 2004; Miller, Brownell, & Smith, 1999).

In spite of the conclusion of Toulabi, Raoufi, and Allahpourashra (2013) that the one of the crucial components of working life quality is involvement in decision making, nevertheless the current study shows that teachers rated " I participate in decision making in my school " as the lowest item of QOWL scale. This result is inconsistent with Haughey & Murphy's (2001) which indicated that the majority of participants showed satisfaction with their participation in decision-making at the school level. In addition, this result differs with Ngang's (2012) which indicated that the special education teachers practice dimensions of teacher leadership at high level. This finding was not surprising and it is in line with Skrtic's (1991) who indicated that special teachers often work in bureaucratic organizations where teachers do not, indeed, have an active role over important decisions. On the other hand, this can also be interpreted by Hanuscin, Rebello, and Sinha 's study (2012) which revealed that teachers perceive decision making as beyond their daily tasks. Also, decision-making typically remains within administrators and professionals who do not hold teacher duties (Silva et al., 2000). This result is considered logical because the teacher role as a decision maker is contemporary in international literature, especially in Jordan. Therefore, special education teachers in Jordan may not be prepared and familiar with this role.

Interestingly, results of t-tests revealed no statistically significant mean differences between males and females on QOWL seen by special education teachers. This result, however, is inconsistent with the findings of many previous research studies (e.g. Demato, 2001; Yilmaz & Sahin, 2009; Perie & Baker, 1997; WU & You-I, 2001; Turkoglu, Ozbey, & Buyuktanir, 2014). From other hand, like in the present study, some research mirrors our finding (e.g. Demirel, 2014; Tuzgol, 2010).

The omnibus ANOVA statistic for this analysis revealed no statistically significant differences that can be ascribed to type of school (mainstreaming and special education school) on the total QOWL. This finding is partially consistent with Demirel's (2014) which reported that status of working in private or public schools, did not affect life satisfaction. In addition, In our study, all participants were working in public schools which inspected by the Ministry of Education. Beside, these schools have comparable conditions where teachers holding fulltime permanent teaching positions and have no risk of dismissal.

Finally, the omnibus ANOVA statistic for this analysis revealed no statistically significant differences that can be ascribed to level of education on the total QOWL. These results are considered logical as the situation of teachers who hold higher qualifications will not differ in their schools, since they will remain teachers. For instance, a teacher who gains postgraduate certificates (master's degree or PhD) will get an petite annual increasing in his/her salary (few Jordanian dinars JD).

Conclusion

Considering teacher perceptions are important input to achieve enhancement process of their work conditions and QOWL. Hence, this could support contemporary educational reforms process. Our results clearly indicate that special education teachers, who participated in the study, have average level of QOWL. Depending on the results of this study, Jordanian policy makers; specially MOE should consider the special education teachers QOWL. Consequently, building professional learning communities is essential since they provide participation opportunities for teachers on decision making and fortify relationships between administrators and teachers (Childs-Bowen, Moller, & Scrivner, 2000). In addition, increasing teachers capability needs supporting from their administrators (York-Barr & Duke, 2004; Childs-Bowen, et al., 2000; Printy, 2008; Barth, 2001).

Improving teacher's QOWL can be achieved if we concentrate on enhancing the entire teacher workplace, providing professional development opportunities, reconsidering leadership and decision-making roles, and enhancement of teacher economical status.

Due to limited similar studies in the literature, it was suggested that the number of both descriptive and predictive studies should be increased on the topic (Onder & Sari, 2009). Accordingly, authors recommend of additional research using different population, qualitative research, developing QWL programs and investigating QOWL as well as in different settings in private sectors.

Limitations

Results of this study are limited to its sample size and special education services settings included in the capital city of Jordan-Amman during the academic year of 2012/2013. This limitation affects generalization of results. In addition, this study is a descriptive method design, where a only self-reported survey was used, so only special education teacher perceptions have been presented. Additional research should ascertain further insight into regarding special education teacher QOWL. This research can use direct observations in authentic settings or interviews.

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EMAN, K. AL-ZBOON

Hashemite University

KHULOUD A. H. AL_DABABNEH

Hashemite University

JAMAL AHMAD

Hashemite University
Table 1: Distribution of Sample
According to Gender, Education level,
Years of experience and Type of school

Variable                      N

Gender
  Males                      28
  Females                    105
Type of school
  Mainstreaming school       71
  Special education school   62
Education level
  Diploma                    25
  Bachelor                   69
  Graduate studies           39
Years of experience
  1-2                        24
  3-10                       52
  More than 10               57

Table (2): Means and Standard Deviations
of teachers' perceptions of QOWL

Item                               M (SD)

My administrator and             4.58(0.83)
colleagues respect me

Students and their families      4.55(0.79)
and community members respect
me

I participate in decision        3.0 (1.26)
making in my school

My colleagues support me         3.6 (1.09)

My colleagues provide me with    3.1 (1.15)
instructions of teaching
technique and curriculum and
guidelines to behavior
modification

I effectively communicate with   3.8(1.11)
my colleagues (c.g.,
collaboration and group
teaching)

I receive training courses for   3.26(1.2)
professional development

1 interchange the classroom      3.3 (1.14)
visits with my colleagues for
teaching observation

I receive feedback from          3.5(1.39)
administrator, supervisors,
colleagues.

My work load is suitable and      3.6(1.1)
rationale

There is adequate material and   3.7(1. 1)
instruments that I need
(books, copier, aids....)

I feel of work-related           3.8(1.27)
security

There is leisure activities in   3.5(1.26)
my school

I feel satisfy of my work        3.7(1.26)
condition and environment

I feel satisfy of my income      3.27(1.35)
from my work as a teacher

Total                            3.64 (.69)
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Author:Eman, K. Al-Zboon; Dababneh, Khuloud A.H. Al_; Ahmad, Jamal
Publication:Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7JORD
Date:Mar 22, 2015
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