Interesting: learning is good for health teachers

Teaching is a stressful job, as most of us teachers know. Several studies have indicated that there is a connection between learning and health. In a recently published study from University West and Linnaeus University the researchers found that the health of school teachers is related to their level of work integrated learning.

Update: As Jan Tishauser reacted on Twitter on this post, the title can be confusing as this study shows a correlation. They think it’s a causal relation because of previous research, but only establish a correlation them selves.

From the press release:

A random sample of 229 teachers at 20 schools in Västra Götaland responded to a questionnaire which included previously tested measures of health, quality and work integrated learning. The resulting data showed a highly significant statistical correlation between the measures.

This indicates that in order to be healthy, teachers need not only teach — they must also learn and develop themselves. An ultimate state of learning is characterised by a sensation of flow, which has been described by researchers as a state of complete immersion in an activity in a way that is maximally effective while at the same time highly enjoyable. In the study, was also tested the relationship between an operationalised measure of flow and the health of the teachers and again there were a strong correlation.

According to Yvonne Lagrosen, Associate Professor in Quality Management at University West, a sense of flow implies that the workload is perceived as lower.

“Doing something that you are interested in, gives you a positive stimulation and the workload seems less high. At the same time, the challenge cannot be too big, there must be a balance between the demands an your own control of your work situation.

“What this research indicates is that to be healthy, we need to constantly learn and develop, in our profession and as people. If we enjoy our work to the extent that we are completely absorbed in it, as in the state of flow, we should have the optimal possibilities for a healthy influence from our work. So find a job that you really enjoy and make sure that you learn and develop at it,” said Yvonne Lagrosen.

The study was conducted by Yvonne Lagrosen and her fellow researcher and husband Stefan Lagrosen, former researcher at University West, now Professor in Business Administration at Linneaus University.

Abstract of the study:

Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to examine relationships between quality management health dimensions, employee health, flow and work integrated learning in primary schools. Previous research has indicated relationships between quality management and health. In this study, the role that work integrated learning plays in the connection between quality and health is investigated.

Design/methodology/approach
– The study object has been a number of schools. A quantitative survey has been carried out. A random sample of 20 primary schools, of which 13 (65 per cent) agreed to participate, was selected. Questionnaires to their 301 employees were delivered and 229 (76 per cent) were returned. The reliability of the items were analysed with Cronbach’s alpha test. The statistical relationships between the items were studied with Pearson’s correlation test.

Findings
– The results show that the items are reliable. Moreover, statistical correlations between work integrated learning on the one hand and employee health, quality management health dimensions and flow on the other hand are found.

Research limitations/implications
– One limitation is that the research has only been carried out in schools and the possibilities of generalising the findings to other sectors are uncertain. Research implications are the relationships that have been identified between work integrated learning and the other factors.

Practical implications
– The knowledge that has resulted from the study should be useful for organisations in their attempts to improve the health status of the employees.

Originality/value
– The relationship between work integrated learning and employee health has not been studied in any other major study.

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