The present study was designed to investigate (a) whether expressive writing reduces stress and burnout among prospective teachers and increases their sense of efficacy and satisfaction with teaching profession, (b) whether frequency of writing increases the impact of expressive writing on stress and burnout, and (c) whether teachers' sense of efficacy mediates the relationship between expressive writing and stress, burnout, and satisfaction among prospective teachers. This investigation was based on research indicating that expressive writing about stressful events improves physical and psychological well-being. The experimental research design consisted of a pretest, two interventions and a control group, and a posttest.
Participants were 124 university students from the teacher education program at the University of Florida who were doing their preinternship in elementary schools in north central Florida. All participants were recruited on a voluntary basis. In the final analysis, only 86 of the eligible participants were included as those with missing data and those who had not completed all four phases of the experiment were omitted.
Prospective teachers who disclosed their deeply felt experience of the preinternship through expressive writing did not report less stress as indicated by the Teacher Stress Scale, less burnout as indicated by the Educators Survey, a stronger sense of efficacy, as measured by the Teacher Efficacy Scale, or greater satisfaction with the teaching profession than those prospective teachers who wrote about factual events. However, there was an interaction between the treatment and pretest measure of role overload and role conflict. That is, one expressive writing was effective in reducing stress for those initially having high levels of stress due to role overload and role conflict; however, prospective teachers with high levels of stress on the pretest who completed two expressive writing had higher scores on the posttest. Also frequency of expressive writing did not have any impact on prospective teachers' sense of efficacy, stress, or burnout. Further, no evidence that teachers' sense of efficacy mediated the relationship between expressive writing and stress and burnout was obtained.