Teacher Religiosity, Spirituality and Job Satisfaction, Their Nature and Relationships: An Australian Faith-Based School System Study
Initially, this study examined the views of teachers who work in faith-based schools, relating to the nature of spirituality and religiosity. Then this study explored the self-ratings of teachers with regard to their religiosity, spirituality and five aspects of the work of teaching; colleagues, working conditions, responsibility, work itself and recognition, and how these factors impacted overall job satisfaction.
A mixed methods approach that involved the collection and analysis of both qualitative (opened questions) and quantitative (Likert scale response items) data was adopted, using a one-phase survey design. Analysis of the quantitative data involved comparison of the religiosity, spirituality and the five aspects of the work of teaching for various teacher sub-groups and the exploration for relationships between these variables and job satisfaction. The qualitative data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis to explore the impact that religiosity, spirituality and participant-identified aspects related to the work of teaching had on teachers’ overall job satisfaction. The sample consisted of nine schools in two Australian faith-based educational systems: Lutheran and Seventh-day Adventist (SDA).
Teachers within the SDA and Lutheran school systems saw Religiosity and Spirituality as distinct constructs, but they perceived there was a connectedness in that both are linkages to one’s relationship with God. Analysis of the five aspects of the work of teaching found that responsibility and work itself were the high rating factors, while working conditions and recognition were the low rating factors. In terms of the variables classified as Worldview factors, the spirituality factor rated significantly greater than the religiosity factor. Age had no significant impact on the magnitude of either worldview factors or the aspects of work elements. The teachers in the Lutheran schools scored higher on the five aspects of teaching elements, while the SDA teachers scored higher on the spirituality and religiosity elements. Primary teachers most often scored higher than the secondary teachers on each scale for the aspects of the work of teaching, but showed no significant differences for the religiosity and spirituality scales whereas the females scored every element higher than the males except for religiosity.
Regression analysis of the quantitative data indicated that overall job satisfaction was influenced by a combination of direct and indirect relationships that centred around, working conditions, work itself, religiosity, and the age of the respondent. In terms of the two faith-based educational systems the data indicated that the teachers in Lutheran schools perceived that religiosity had a strong direct impact on their overall job satisfaction, while for those teaching in SDA schools it was spirituality that had this direct impact. When the teachers were given the opportunity to outline their own framework for factors that influence overall job satisfaction three major themes emerged from the analysis of the data: people (others and oneself), processes (the job itself), and the purpose for teaching. When the school administration is able to give clear directions and colleagues are helpful and share their expertise and a team spirit exists this has a positive impact on the overall job satisfaction. Similarly when the students are developing/progressing and a difference is being made in their lives, together with the teachers themselves having a positive attitude then overall job satisfaction is high. Also, overall job satisfaction was increased when teachers perceived that their work had a higher calling or some connectedness with the divine.
Considering both data sources this study found that religiosity impacted overall job satisfaction directly and indirectly via the mediating element of spirituality. Also spirituality itself indirectly influenced overall job satisfaction via the purpose for teaching element. Finally the data indicated that overall job satisfaction increased when teachers’ relationships with their students and colleagues were positive and the teachers perceived there was a degree of organisational efficiency within their workplace.