Comparison of Self-Contained and Departmentalized Elementary Teachers' Perceptions of Classroom Structure and Job Satisfaction

Alecia Strohl, Lorraine C. Schmertzing, Richard Schmertzing, E-Ling Hsiao


Most elementary schools adhere to a self-contained format to deliver student instruction. This case study explored the implementation of a nontraditional format typically used in middle and high schools known as departmentalized instruction. Twelve of 29 first through third grade teachers were asked by their administration to implement departmentalized instruction for a trial year. This study compares levels of perceived stress and morale in relation to job satisfaction between the departmentalized teachers and self-contained teachers within the same school. This case study utilized focus group interviews as well as data collected from pre- and post-surveys comprised of Likert-scaled items and open-ended questions. The survey responses informed the study about various dimensions of teacher morale and job satisfaction and the focus groups informed the study about departmentalized teachers’ own comparison between the two models of instruction. Consistent with related literature, findings revealed departmentalized teachers experienced higher morale, lighter workload, and increased overall job satisfaction in comparison to self-contained teachers in the same school. Further, in comparison to their prior self-contained teaching experiences, departmentalized teachers overwhelmingly preferred the new structure. 

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Journal of Studies in Education ISSN 2162-6952


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