Stress in the Educational Environment


Stress is a set of unspecific protective reactions of the body caused by unfavorable factors and manifested by behavioral and psychological features. Stress occurs when a person is faced with the need to solve a problem, and there are insufficient resources for this. These resources (or means) are information, energy, and time. If the resources are inadequate, the body mobilizes reserves – a state of stress, which can positively affect the task. However, it is not as positive as it may seem: in particular, the educational environment stimulates the development of normal and abnormal stress. Stress becomes a stressor that permanently activates the nervous and humoral systems, which leads to behavioral disorders and psycho-emotional irritations. There are many stress factors in the educational environment, so teachers and children need to find a competent balance on preserving resources and their adequate extraction in one situation or another. To overcome stress, it is necessary to use particular theories and models of resource conservation to meet the needs.

Conservation of Resources Theory

Central to the conservation of resources theory (COR) is the concept of “resources,” which represents the values that individuals and communities seek to acquire, preserve, increase, and accumulate. The psychological literature views resources as significant predictors of well-being and quality of life. Not only do resources become important in the context of coping in COR, but fear of losing resources is a crucial predictor of stress. For educational processes, the COR is important because it allows one to assess the situation and recognize the first signs of fear of loss.

Cross-cultural studies show that the most stressful among life events in all cultures is significant loss: health, job, and partner. Fear of loss is substantial in evolutionary development, as it is an essential factor for maintaining a prosperous existence, preservation of life, and continuation of the species. Thus, a state of stress occurs when an individual experiences a loss of resources or is threatened with loss and does not receive the expected gains from earlier investments. Loss of resources is the main reason for the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Loss of resources is the main reason for stress and burnout, especially in the workplace. Burnout on the part of teachers often leads to students becoming less interested in education. Moreover, the resources expended by a teacher are irreplaceable, due to which the mobilized reserves are also quickly depleted. Stress and burnout are the critical factors of personal depersonalization and decreased control over the situation. It means that teachers with emotional exhaustion cannot teach lessons competently, which leads to negative consequences for the student. Thus, resource conservation theory allows teachers to think about how it is possible to conserve resources even under stress.

The Transactional Model

The transactional model is a theory that explores ways of coping with stress – coping mechanisms. This model is used to describe conscious coping strategies and other anxiety-generating events. The theory views stress as a process of evaluating an individual’s situation and subsequent decisions. Stress results from a primary and secondary assessment that allows the individual to prepare for it and form a behavioral strategy. The stock of resources presented before the stressful situation occurred also plays a role here, determining attitudes toward it.

Coping is a concept that combines cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies that are used to cope with stressful situations. More precisely, managing behavior is defined as continuously changing cognitive and behavioral attempts to cope with specific external or internal demands that are judged to be excessive or over one’s resources. Coping is an ever-changing process, as personality and environment form an inextricable, dynamic relationship and mutually influence each other. It aims to find ways to change the relationship between the subject and the conditions of the external environment or to reduce emotional experience and distress.

In an educational setting, coping strategies are the default process necessary to cope with stress. Students and teachers resort to managing because they need to find similar tactics to succeed in the educational process. Students more often use evasion strategies, that is, retreating from a stressful situation and emotional or psychological block. Teachers often use approaching strategies: teachers become more active and try to take over the position. In the case of the teacher-student relationship, active coping strategies are more successful because they can develop a positive outlook on stress, which is no small part of the success of overcoming it.

Conclusion & Questions for Future Reflection

Stress results from assessing a crisis in which the individual runs out of resources for further interaction with environmental factors. Stress is especially noticeable in the educational environment, and it is advisable to resort to different theories to overcome it. COR considers stress as fear of loss of resources for life activity. There is a relationship between the emotional exhaustion of the instructor and the decrease in motivation in the student. The transactional model refers to coping strategies for coping with a stressful state. Active methods are more effective because they promote the critical assessment of stress.

Questions for future reflection that interested me were:

  1. The relationship of coping mechanism and social-behavioral biology: how is coping explained in cognitive understanding of social role?
  2. How can cultural adaptation change an individual’s relationship to the fear of losing resources?

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ChalkyPapers. (2022) 'Stress in the Educational Environment'. 15 December.


ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Stress in the Educational Environment." December 15, 2022.

1. ChalkyPapers. "Stress in the Educational Environment." December 15, 2022.


ChalkyPapers. "Stress in the Educational Environment." December 15, 2022.