Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Student behavior management is a critical component of efficacious teaching and a leading contributor to teachers’ stress. Prior research has shown that teachers experiencing greater levels of workplace stress may utilize more punitive and exclusionary disciplinary techniques. However, these strategies often do not effectively manage student problem behavior and are associated with adverse student outcomes. In contrast, positive behavior management techniques have shown efficacy in managing student behavior while promoting students’ success and wellbeing. This study explored the relationship between teachers’ perceptions of workplace stress (i.e., work-related and discrimination-related) and their use of positive or punitive behavior management techniques. Additionally, this study examined internal (i.e., self-efficacy) and external (i.e., school climate) coping mechanisms for their utility in moderating the relationship between stress and disciplinary techniques. This study sought to replicate previous research associating high levels of occupational stress in educators with increased punitive discipline, and it expands existing understanding of teachers’ personal and contextual avenues for coping with workplace stress as moderators of the stress-discipline relationship. Further, the present study describes a more comprehensive conceptualization of teachers’ sources of stress (i.e., occupational stress and discrimination-related stress). Teachers’ experiences were captured via electronic survey, and research questions were investigated using multiple and hierarchical linear regression. Results suggest that neither teachers’ occupational stress nor discrimination-related stress were independently associated with positive discipline techniques or punitive discipline techniques. However, as teachers viewed their school’s climate more positively, their reported use of punitive strategies decreased. Further, the main effect of occupational stress on punitive techniques was significantly moderated by both school climate and self-efficacy, suggesting that the relationship between stress and punitive discipline may vary based on teachers’ experiences with these coping mechanisms. Findings from this study provide important information for school psychologists’ understanding of educator stress, coping, and behavior management, serving to support both teacher and student well-being.



Committee Chair

Clark, Kelly N.