School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Christine Saba


occupational stress, burnout, attrition, transactional model of stress and coping


Education | Elementary Education


The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to describe occupational stress and burnout as experienced by K–2 elementary educators in central Pennsylvania postpandemic. The theories guiding this study were Lazarus and Folkman’s transactional model of stress and coping and Lazarus’s cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion, which provided a framework for understanding how educators process occupational stress. The central research question guiding this qualitative phenomenological study was: What is the lived experience of K–2 elementary school educators postpandemic? The sample consisted of 12 to 15 K–2 educators from across three school districts in central Pennsylvania. Data were collected using journal entries, semistructured individual interviews, and focus group sessions. Data were analyzed using open coding to identify themes. Phenomenological reduction and imaginative variation were used to create textural descriptions of the essence of the experience of occupational stress for K–2 educators. The findings of the study demonstrate that varying needs of students and staffing shortages contribute to occupational stress and burnout in K–2 educators.