NEUROSCIENTIFIC STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING STRESS RELATED TO PERVASIVE CHANGE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION
ABSTRACT CAMI RAE HAMLIN NEUROSCIENTIFIC STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING STRESS RELATED TO PERVASIVE CHANGE IN PUBLIC EDUCATION Under the direction of EDWARD L. BOUIE, JR., Ed.D. The purpose of this research was to look to neuroscientists for help in identifying strategies that may help bypass the fight-or-flight response of stressed educators undergoing the chronic stress of reform. Educator stress is a pervasive problem equally matched by the level of pervasive attempts of reform that exists in P-16 education. Neuroscience findings that the brain registers change equal to that of threat poses a problem of ongoing inappropriate responses to change, contributing to a crisis of up to a 50% mass exodus of new teachers in some markets. The study results provided strategies suggested by neuroscientists for educational leaders to implement to help educators reduce stress, stay cognitively engaged, and improve success with pervasive change environments. A panel of expert neuroscientists from the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) participated in surveys in three rounds of the Delphi method. Twenty-four experts initially responded and collectively identified 16 strategies. Using a 5-point Likert-type rating scale, 12 experts in Round 2 of the Delphi rated their degree of agreement of the appropriateness of each of the suggested 16 strategies. Using mean and sampling standard deviation, the researcher rank ordered the results of the Round 2 Delphi strategies suggested by DABI members. In Round 3, the experts reviewed the collective contributions for final recommendations of strategies for implementation by educational leaders to reduce stress and increase cognition of their employees when confronted with reform and change in schools, essentially bypassing or inoculating themselves against the reflexive “flight or fight” mode. The 17 experts participating in Round 3 agreed to the use of four strategies: benefits of sleep; understanding the causes and preventions of stress; hands-on strategies; and active, collaborative learning in small groups. One hundred percent disagreed to the use of medication-based strategies. Because half of the experts expressed uncertainty of whether neuroscience could contribute to the field of educational leadership, future recommendations pointed to a need for more empirical research around this infancy partnership.
Hamlin, Cami Rae