Two Elizabethtown College Psychology students are completing research this summer by surveying elementary school teachers from across the United States to learn more about the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their wellbeing.

These students’ research and collaboration with an Etown faculty mentor is part of the Summer Scholarship, Creative Arts and Research Projects (SCARP) program.

Learn more about SCARP.

Title of Research
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Elementary School Teachers’ Stress, Coping and Burnout: Identification of Protective and Exacerbating Factors

Student Researchers
Victoria Vaughn ’22 – Psychology
Meghan Keenan ’23 – Psychology

Faculty Mentor
Liz Dalton, Assistant Professor of Psychology

What are you researching?

Victoria: Our research is looking at the effects of the pandemic on K-12 teachers’ stress, coping, and burnout. We have conducted a survey and follow-up interview to see how different variables of stress affected job burnout and what coping skills were utilized during the school year.

Meghan: We are focusing specifically on how these factors affect work life and quality. Two Etown students and their prfessor smiling at camera in front of Psychology department sign.

Why did you choose this topic?

Victoria: I chose this topic because my mom is a special education teacher during the pandemic. She was telling me many stories about different stressors she was dealing with and it inspired me to see what other teachers experienced during the pandemic.

Meghan: K-12 teachers have suffered greatly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to research this topic to bring awareness to the many stressors teachers encounter and to give them a space to share their stories and experiences.

What is the most interesting aspect of this research?

Victoria: It was interesting to learn about different perspectives of teaching during the pandemic. Everyone had different things to say regarding stressors and situations they faced during the school year.

Meghan: The most interesting aspect of this research is the personal stories our participants volunteered to share with us. Each person’s experiences were unique to their situations, yet there were multiple common themes between the stories. It is fascinating to see such stark differences and similarities right next to each other.

How has Professor Dalton helped you throughout this experience?

Victoria: Dr. Dalton has been a great resource for our project. She has been guiding us on how to conduct a proper survey and interview as well as providing feedback throughout our project. Dr. Dalton has helped us build a better foundation of research which will help us in our pursuits of graduate degrees in psychology research.

Meghan: Dr. Dalton has been a great resource and wealth of information throughout the project. She guides us through tough spots in our research, helping us to brainstorm solutions to obstacles without directly telling us what to do. She clearly explains new concepts to us and is very constructive in her feedback.

Hear from the Faculty Mentor – Liz Dalton

“It has been fantastic to support Victoria and Meghan as they developed this idea from an interest to a research study involving a survey and interview of educators,” said Dalton. “They’ve done a remarkable job navigating each step of the research process, from conducting a literature review to selecting their measures, gaining Institutional Review Board approval, and recruiting study participants. They’ve successfully navigated the challenges that arise in designing and implementing a research study.”

I find SCARP to be a really rewarding and enriching experience for both the students and myself,” said Dalton. “It’s a rare chance to really dive into a research project in an immersive way. The fact that it takes place over the summer means that we all have more time and energy to devote to the project, and it allows professors and students to connect in an engaging and relaxed atmosphere. I’m so grateful that Elizabethtown College supports SCARP.”