College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Karen Monkman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alexandra Novakovic, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Beth Sagett- Flores, Ed.D.

Abstract

This study contributes qualitative support for the Positive Psychology concepts of Psychological Capital and eustress in the field of education. The research questions ask how stressors inherent in public education today may positively influence the meaning-making teachers engage in. The constructs of Psychological Capital (hope, self-efficacy, resilience, and optimism) are explored viewing their relationship to positive meaning-making for these individuals.

The study is based on life history interviews with six teachers identified as being positively oriented in their outlook. The career trajectory of each was discussed, along with identification of successes and challenges in being a public school teacher at this time in history. The data was coded both deductively for the Psychological Capital constructs and inductively for other themes. The themes that arose inductively centered on relationship building and professional growth and change. These two areas serve as the central points of meaning-making for these teachers.

The resources of Psychological Capital seem to work to provide a buffer that allows for the positive meaning-making found in the relationships, professional growth and positive orientation towards even difficult change. Work engagement is the outcome evidencing the relationship between the PsyCap resources and the positively oriented meaning-making of the teachers in their work. Work engagement was found to arise from the urgency and savoring of the individuals, most notably from the areas of relationship building and professional growth and change.

The study also presents a contrasting example of a teacher who does not seem to engage the resources of Psychological Capital as effectively, has a more distressful orientation, and exhibits less work engagement.

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