Relationships between selected variables and teacher-initiated leave during the 1987-88 school year in Newfoundland

McGrath, Samuel (1989) Relationships between selected variables and teacher-initiated leave during the 1987-88 school year in Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

There were two major purposes to this study. The first was to determine how much teacher-initiated leave was taken by regular (full-time) classroom teachers in Newfoundland during the 1987-88 school year. The second was to examine the relationship between the amount of leave taken and a selection of personal traits and situational factors. The dependent variable was leave use. The independent variables included age, sex, marital status, level of education, teaching experience, health, accumulated sick leave, sick leave as an entitlement, experience in present school, school size, place of residence, distance to work, coverage by substitute teachers, internal coverage by other staff, urban/rural community, geographical region, and school board. -- There were two primary sources of data; information from the Department of Education and information from a sample survey of teachers in the province. Study groups included all full-time regular classroom teachers who were employed by the 35 school boards during 1987-88, and a sub-sample of teachers from the Avalon Peninsula region. Statistical procedures of one-way analysis of variance and linear multiple regression were utilized in the analyses of data. Leave use was measured in annual mean days, incidence rates, and leave rates. Specific findings were recorded for both the study sample and the study population. -- Most of the personal and situational variables of the study have been examined in varying degrees in the literature. Findings from the literature tended not to support personal factors as being good predictors of teacher absenteeism. Situational factors were generally examined in fewer studies and while some variables were associated with higher absences, there is insufficient data on which to make firm conclusions. The findings of this study generally reflected the literature in terms of relationships between personal and situational factors and leave use. -- Findings related to the first purpose of the study, namely the extent of leave use throughout the province during 1987-88, indicate that most teacher-initiated leave was sick leave. On average, teachers used 8 days of discretionary leave, 7 of which were for sick leave. Most teachers in the province (87 percent) took sick leave during the year and the proportion of time they were absent in relation to the total amount of work time available ranged from 1.58 percent to 6.78 percent. Substitute teachers were employed most of the time (84.07 percent) by all school boards to replace regular teachers on sick leave. The annual mean for sick leave by district was found to be statistically significant for 6 of the 35 school boards. The annual mean by region was statistically different for the Avalon region. -- Statistics related to relationships between leave use and selected personal and situational factors were computed for sick leave only because this was the most dominant of all the categories of teacher-initiated leave. Findings show that 7 of the 10 personal variables and 2 of the 6 situational variables were statistically significant and therefore related to the amount of sick leave used during the year. Personal traits found to be related to leave use included age, sex, marital status, teaching experience, unused accumulated sick leave, health, and sick leave perceived as being an entitlement. Situational factors included school size and urban/rural community. Specifically, the study found that older teachers took more sick leave than younger teachers, females took more sick leave than males, married teachers took more sick leave than unmarried teachers, those with moderate amounts of unused accumulated sick leave took more sick leave than either those with a small amount or a large amount of accumulated unused days, teachers who perceive themselves as being healthy used less sick leave than those who perceived themselves as unhealthy, and teachers do not perceive sick leave as an entitlement to the same degree as other benefits in the contract. However, survey respondents indicated that teachers take sick leave when they are not actually sick. The study found that teachers in large schools in the province used more sick leave than teachers in small schools, and that urban teachers used more sick leave than rural teachers. -- Collectively, the personal and situational variables of the study account for 14 percent of the variance in sick leave use. While statistically significant, the small amount which the variables contribute to total variance questions their practical significance. Residual variables (those not examined) appear to have more greatly affected sick leave usage among teachers in Newfoundland during the 1987-88 school year. -- Conclusions drawn from the study were related to descriptive analysis results and relational analysis results. Because the data encompassed leave use for one year only, it is tenuous to conclude that patterns of teacher leave usage were clearly identified. However, it can be concluded that until further data is forthcoming, the study represents a fairly accurate picture of teacher leave usage in the province. Because the various personal and situational variables accounted for only 14 percent of the variance, several conclusions are possible: the model was inadequate for predicting sick leave usage, the reasons teachers take sick leave are idiosyncratic, or the levels of aggregation for measurement purposes should be raised to other than the individual level. In general, the study adds little to what has already been found by previous studies elsewhere into teacher absenteeism.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5153
Item ID: 5153
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 206-212.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1989
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Teachers--Newfoundland and Labrador--Leaves of absence

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