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PREDICTING TEACHER ABSENTEEISM BY PERSONAL BACKGROUND

FACTORS

A Thesis
Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Masters of Science in Management Studies

of
The University of the West Indies

Paul Tristen Balwant


2007

Department of Management Studies


Faculty of Social Sciences
St. Augustine Campus
iii

ABSTRACT

Predicting Teacher Absenteeism by Personal Background Factors

Paul Tristen Balwant

The rising rates of absenteeism, coupled with its increasing costs, have drawn the
attention of businesses, governments, and other affected parties. It is an extensive
topic which has also attracted many researchers. In spite of enormous research in
the general area of absenteeism, the subject of school teacher absenteeism has
received only moderate interest.

In this thesis, hierarchical multiple regression analysis is used to determine which


demographic and work related variables are related to the year-to-year (2004-2005)
changes in absence frequency of government secondary school teachers in
Trinidad. Unlike psychological variables, these sociodemographic variables have an
added advantage of being easier to interpret lending to more straightforward policy
design.

Rosenblatt and Shirom’s work provides the framework for this study, with some
noteworthy improvements being made to their model.

Keywords: Paul Tristen Balwant; school teacher absenteeism; sociodemographic


variables; Rosenblatt and Shirom.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project would not have been possible without the support of many people. I

would like to thank Mr. Baptiste for his assistance and advice in the preparation of

the thesis. In addition, special thanks are due to the Director of the Human

Resource Management Unit at the Ministry of Education whose familiarity with the

school system in Trinidad was invaluable. Thanks to the Director of Schools

Supervision who gave me approval to conduct the study in government schools. I

would also like to thank the principals and teachers who not only chose to

participate in the study, but were also very friendly and welcoming. Finally, my

deepest appreciation goes to my family; my parents for transporting me to schools

across the country, my uncle Rudy for giving guidance throughout, and all my

siblings and friends who have endured this long process with me, always offering

their love.
v

To Darlene
CONTENTS

Chapter

Abstract iii

Acknowledgements iv

Dedication v

List of Illustrations ix

1. INTRODUCTION 1

2. LITERATURE REVIEW 3

Costs of Absenteeism 3

Sociodemographic Predictors of Absenteeism 5

Personal Characteristics 7

Occupational Characteristics 11

Significance of Study 13

3. METHODOLOGY 15

Study Sample and Statistical Power 15

Measures 19

Absence Frequency 19

Gender 20

Number of Young Children 20

Educational Attainment 20

Age and Seniority 21


CONTENTS

Chapter

School Position 21

Salary 21

Control Variables 21

Excluded Data 23

Examination of the Data 23

Evaluation of Missing Data 24

Identification of Outliers 24

Statistical Assumptions Underlying the Regression Analysis 28

4. RESULTS 32

Correlational Analyses 32

Hierarchical Regression Analysis 34

Evaluating the Variate 37

Assessing Multicollinearity 39

Empirical Model Validation 42

5. DISCUSSION 44

Limitations and Recommendations 50

6. CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY DECISIONS 53

References 58
CONTENTS

APPENDICES

Appendix A Permission to Conduct Study 65

Appendix B Informed Consent Form Attached to Questionnaire 67

Appendix C Survey Questionnaire 70

Appendix D Teacher Survey Data 72

Appendix E Rate of Absenteeism in the United States 74

Appendix F Boxplots for Metric Variables 75

Appendix G Probability Plots of Quantitative Variables 78

Appendix H Scatterplot Matrices for Metric Variables 84

Appendix J Test for Equality of Variances 86

Appendix K Other Regression Analyses 87

Appendix L Independent-Samples T Tests 90

Appendix M Partial Regression Plots 92

Appendix N Sick Leave Data 95

Appendix P Boxplot and Line Graph for Job Scope and Teaching Load 97

Appendix Q Additional Data for Deans 99


ILLUSTRATIONS

Figures

4.1. Residual Plots 38

4.2. Normal Probability Plots 40

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tables

3.1. Univariate Outliers 25

3.2. Multivariate Outliers 26

3.3. Teachers from Different Areas, by Type of School 27

3.4. Normality Testing and Remedies 29

4.1. Intercorrelations, Means and Standard Deviations for the Study’s 33


Variables

4.2. Hierarchical Regression Analysis Summary Predicting Absence Spells


in 2005 34

4.3. Variance Inflation Factor 41


1

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

There is a current problem in Trinidad and Tobago concerning the absenteeism

levels of primary and secondary school teachers in the country. An article in the

Newsday on September 4, 2005, reads S ALARY C UT FOR T EACHERS W HO S TAY

H OME (Mohammed 2005). In the article it is clear that the Education Minister Hazel

Manning, after meeting with Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association

(TTUTA) and other bodies, needs to determine “how to tackle the issue of

delinquent teachers at both the primary and secondary schools” (ibid. 2005; italics

added). The word delinquent is taken to mean frequently absent in this context. The

Minister seeks to address the problem through the implementation of salary-based

rewards and penalties; I provide another alternative. My approach involves the

targeting of policies towards that segment of the workforce that exhibit high

absenteeism levels.

Immediately it becomes apparent that one needs to determine the

characteristics of frequently absent teachers. Following this thought, my thesis aims

to answer the question, how can we predict the absence frequency of secondary

school teachers? This question seeks to discover whether a proactive approach can

be used to direct efforts towards those teachers who are likely to be frequently

absent. In addition, current absenteeism levels can be reduced by designing

policies for the groups of teachers that presently exhibit frequent absenteeism.

Either way, the time lag between policy implementation and a reduction in

absenteeism will lead to the Education Minister successfully achieving her objective

in the medium to long term.


2

Stemming from my research question is the research hypothesis which would

denote the objectives of the study (Cooper and Schindler 2003). My research

hypothesis is that Government secondary school teachers, who demonstrate high

prior absence behaviour, are young in age, have children less than four years of

age, and do not hold a school position exhibit a high level of absence frequency.

From this research hypothesis the question may arise as to whether these personal

background traits have a direct influence on teachers’ absence frequency. If they do

have an influence, then one might question whether the aforesaid relationships exist

between these characteristics and teachers’ absence levels. Also, is it appropriate

to judge teachers based on their personal background characteristics? This study

will not only answer these questions, but also provide possible policies for

frequently absent teachers based on the results.


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CHAPTER 2

LITERATURE REVIEW

“Absence behaviour continues to attract researchers’ attention” (Steel 2003,

209) because it is a growing “problem that plagues nearly every workplace” (Anon.

2002, 1). Cascio (2003, 209) defines absenteeism as “any failure of an employee to

report for or to remain at work as scheduled, regardless of reason”. In a study of

employee absenteeism within government organizations in Northern Ireland,

Bennett (2002, 435) discovered that the majority of persons “perceived the current

levels of absence within their organization to be either ‘very high’ or ‘high’”. Such

perceptions are a reality in the United States as shown by the CCH Unscheduled

Absence Survey. In this survey, the rate of absenteeism is calculated by dividing the

paid unscheduled absence hours by the paid productive hours (CCH, 2006). The

survey shows a steadily increasing average absenteeism rate from 2003 to 2006

(see app. E). In fact, the absence rate of 2.5 percent in 2006 is the highest rate

since 1999, when it was 2.7 percent.

Costs of Absenteeism

Absenteeism is very costly to an organization. The annual financial cost of

absence to the UK economy is £581 for an average employee (McHugh 2002).

Such financial costs include a loss of productivity as well as “the additional expense

of hiring substitute labour”. Productivity may suffer not only because of the absent

worker but also through the use of “less experienced replacements” (Ho 1997, 722).

These financial costs do not include indirect costs such as “lower customer

satisfaction, and poorer quality of products and services” which can both lead “to a

loss of future business”. When such indirect costs are taken into account, the true
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cost of absenteeism is estimated at “£1,092 per employee, per year”; an almost

two-fold increase (McHugh 2002, 722).

While excessive employee absences are troublesome for any organization,

absences in a labour-intensive field such as education are of particular concern

(Jacobson [1989?]). Teacher absenteeism leads to a loss of student-contact hours.

In the U.S., Woods and Montagno (1997, 308) assert that such losses in time are

“more significant in large urban school districts”. These losses in time and the

subsequent financial cost of teachers’ absenteeism have been the main “focus of

research” (Ehrenberg et al. 1991, 308). Still, as was explained earlier, the financial

cost of teacher absenteeism does not consider the indirect costs such as adverse

effects on student achievement (Woods and Montagno 1997; Summers and Raivetz

1982; Obrien et al. 1985, Jacobson [1989?]) and student absenteeism (Ehrenberg

et al. 1989). Contrary to these findings, some studies do not confirm any effects of

teacher absenteeism on their students (Ziomek and Schoenberger 1983; Madden et

al. 1991; Ehrenberg et al. 1991). In light of these studies it may be safer to say that

absence of a good teacher impacts negatively on student learning (Norton 1998;

italics added). This issue stimulates the question as to the effectiveness of

substitute teachers. With respect to such teachers, they are not only a financial cost

(Jacobson [1989?]), but may also contribute to a reduction in student performance

due to their lack of effectiveness in comparison to regular teachers (Pennsylvania

School Board Association 1978). The difficulty of even finding qualified substitute

teachers is also a growing problem (Norton 1998).

So far, we have discussed the high financial and indirect costs of teacher

absenteeism, as well as how the academic structure of a school can be negatively

affected through the use of substitute teachers. Manlove and Elliot (1977) argue

that the overall performance of a school including its administrative dimensions may
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be negatively affected as well. For all these reasons, “it is important to understand

and predict teachers’ absence behaviour” (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004, 210). By

understanding what factors are related to teacher absenteeism appropriate

solutions may then be developed. My research paper will focus on “prior absence

behaviour, personal characteristics, and occupational factors” (Rosenblatt and

Shirom 2004, 201) that predict the frequency of teachers’ absences. The paper will

mostly replicate the study of Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) work, but in Trinidad’s

context.

Sociodemographic Predictors of Absenteeism

Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004, 210) explain that the importance of using

“background variables in explaining absenteeism” was made apparent by the Steers

and Rhodes (1978) model. A more recent study by Mohammed and Ignace (1992,

615), involving a sample of Canadian firms, confirms that “personal attributes are

the most important determinants of long-term absences”. Contrary to popular belief

that demographic variables should be used as control variables (Price 1995;

Rentsch and Steel 1998; Zaccaro et al. 1991), Steers and Rhodes (1978) approach

uses both psychological and personal characteristics (Rosenblatt and Shirom

2004). In other words, they study the direct effect of these variables. Price (1995,

28) goes further to say that “demographic variables should not be used as

moderators”. He explains that when these variables are used in such a manner,

they lack precision as “one does not know why the moderator operates as it does”

(ibid., 28).

There are three ways in which the direct use of demographic variables assists

in the construction of models (Price 1995). First, by “relating these variables to a

phenomenon being studied” one can use them to explain the phenomenon (ibid.,
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29). Landy et al. (1984, 31) confirms Price’s (1995) premise by their following

statement:

The fact that women are absent more frequently than men or the fact that older employees
have fewer absences than younger employees is of no direct interest to the psychologist.
What is of interest is the psychological process that might co-vary with age or gender and
might potentially influence absence patterns
Secondly, “demographic variables can be used to check the completeness of

models” (Price 1995, 29). This is illustrated by Brooke and Price’s (1989) model of

absenteeism which uses 15 theoretical variables to explain absence variation.

Brooke empirically estimates the model, and then estimates it again, adding 5

demographic variables; gender, education, age, tenure, and job grade. He was

trying to determine if the addition of these 5 variables would increase the

explanatory power of the model. “If the addition of the demographic variables

significantly increased the explanatory power of the model” this would denote the

exclusion of important theoretical variables (Price 1995, 29). His results showed no

significant increase in the explained variance upon adding the 5 variables.

Finally, “demographic variables can be used as empirical checks of models”.

Whilst this empirical check “does not constitute a rigorous estimation of a model”, it

does “lend plausibility since the model appears to be consistent with existing

knowledge” (Price 1995, 30). These three uses, particularly the first, provide clear

justification for the use of demographic variables in studying teacher absenteeism.

In following the research by Price (1995) and the study by Rosenblatt and

Shirom (2004), prior absence behaviour is used as a control variable. Ivancevich

(1985), and Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) also show that previous absenteeism

should be used as a predictor of frequency of absence in the future. Prior absence

behaviour is measured by “the residual change in the predicted frequency of

absences from the first school year investigated to the next” (Cohen and Cohen
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1983, 211). Hereafter, the frequency of absenteeism implies this residual change

between two consecutive years. The background variables are studied in terms of

personal and occupational characteristics as mentioned earlier. The literature on

these variables is used to develop appropriate hypotheses.

Personal Characteristics

Gender

Norton’s (1998, 2) research indicates that “overall, men teachers had

significantly fewer absences than women teachers”. This result seems to be typical

in many other studies such as, Farrell and Stamm (1988), Steel and Rentsch

(1995), and Scott (1990). One reason for such a variation is that women, unlike

men, are more “likely to take time off when a child was ill or hurt” (Scott 1990, under

“Discussion”) [an unpaginated electronic work]. Scott (1990, under “Limitations”)

also suggests that female teachers in particular may have work schedules that “are

more likely to coincide with the schedule of their school age children”. Other

reasons are that women’s efforts are more directed at “housework” (Rosenblatt and

Shirom 2004, 211), they are often more susceptible to “absence inducing effects

such as lack of sleep” (Leigh 1983, 618), they are more likely to take time off for

illnesses (Youngblood 1984), and also the lower status of women in the business

environment can lead them to become apathetic towards their job (VandenHeuvel

and Wooden 1995). Yet, studies by Globerson and Ben-Yshai (2002) and Spencer

and Steers (1980) showed a contrasting result in that male participants were more

absent than their female counterparts. Finally, the more recent study by Rosenblatt

and Shirom (2004) demonstrates that men and women do not differ in terms of their

absence frequency.
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Generally, older studies indicate that women will be more absent possibly due

to the traditional role of women in those times. In the past, women were involved in

“lower paying and less skilled jobs” and were thus more prone to higher

absenteeism rates (Hedges 1973, 2). However, the workplace is now quite different

to the 1980s and the early 1990s. Hedges (1973, 2) explains that as “employment

conditions and cultural roles of men and women became more similar, their patterns

of absenteeism will be similar as well”. Giving consideration to this narrowing gap

between the roles of men and women in the workplace, as well as the changing

character of women in today’s society, my hypothesis is generated according to that

of Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004).

H1: Male and female teachers will not differ in their absence frequency.

Age

There seems to be a negative relationship between age and absenteeism

among teachers (Scott and Wimbush 1991). Norton (1998, 2) explains that whilst

there was not any significant difference in the absence levels of teachers whose

age groups were varied, “women and men did reveal different patterns of

absenteeism with age”. However, unlike Scott and Wimbush’s (1991) study, his

study shows a positive relationship between age and absenteeism for female

teachers, and a high absence frequency for male teachers in their thirties.

Martocchio (1989) also disagreed with this negative relationship for women, but

agreed that it was true for men. Positive relationships may exist since older

employees are more vulnerable to health-related problems which can keep them

away from work (Mohammed and Ignace 1992). In spite of these results, Rosenblatt

and Shirom (2004, 212) rationalizes that most studies (such as Leigh 1986; Allen

1981, 1984) assert the basic “inverse relationship between age and absenteeism”
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amongst both men and women. They explain that higher job commitment and better

person-organization fit comes with age. Additionally, older employees tend to enjoy

more pleasant working conditions (Mohammed and Ignace 1992) and experience

fewer injuries on the job (Vistnes 1997).

Younger employees are also more likely to be absent. Erikson’s (1963) model

of adult development explains that during early adulthood persons are “striving to

attain the goals and desires of youth” often questioning whether they are on the

right path in terms of their life goals (Desimone et al. 2002, 464). Different models of

career development such as those advanced by Hall and Mirvis (1995) and

Greenhaus et al. (2000) also supports the view that younger employees tend to be

continuously exploring job opportunities, often moving in and out of various

organizations. As such, they tend to be unsure of their place in the job environment,

and such instability may lead to frequently absent behaviour.

Finally, it is important to consider the interactions of age with other variables

such as gender (Scott 1990) and tenure (Hackett 1990). As such these two

variables will be controlled in this study, in studying the effects of age on variation of

absence frequency.

H2: Teachers’ age is negatively related to their absence frequency.

Education

“Education was found to contribute to lower absenteeism” (Rentsch and Steel

1998, 212) in most studies. Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) expect that a higher

education level will be accompanied by elevated professionalism and, in

consequence, higher levels of responsibility and commitment to work. Furthermore,

highly educated employees tend to have more “autonomy at work and more

involvement in their jobs” (Mohammed and Ignace 1992, 618). According to Baba
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(1990, 618), these attributes are associated with lower absenteeism rates. Norton

(1998, 2) also emphasizes that the “level of teaching license held” is a good

predictor of teachers’ absences. Though, he claims that “the higher the degree held

by the teacher, the higher the days of absence” (ibid., 2).

It is important to note that a significant negative relationship was found in

studies such as Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) and Mohammed and Ignace (1992)

which measured education by whether or not a participant had a degree. On the

other hand, studies which considered the extent of the education level, which

seems like a more comprehensive measure than simple degree possession,

showed a positive relationship (Norton 1998) or no relationship at all (Spencer and

Steers 1980). With such inconsistency in this predictor, and considering that the

extent of education is being measured, it seems logical that the hypothesis should

be different to that suggested by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004).

H3: There is no relationship between the level of educational attainment

and absence frequency.

Number of Young Children

There seems to be very little research in this area. Most of the studies that do

exist on this matter show a clear positive relationship between the number of

children and variation in absence frequency (Judge et al. 1997; Baba 1990;

Muchinsky 1977). Yet, the more recent study by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004, 219)

shows that “the number of children in the family was not associated with

absenteeism”. Instead, they suggest that it may be the children’s ages that are

related to absenteeism. It is proposed that as the number of young children

increases, so does “family commitments such as children care-taking” (Judge et al.

1977, 212). Studies have defined young children as being less than 2 years old
11

(Bridges and Mumford 2001) or less than 6 years of age (Leigh 1983, Vistnes

1997). In these studies a relationship was found to exist between the number of

young children and absenteeism, particularly for women. In this study we will

consider the relationship between the number of young children and absence

frequency, regardless of gender. Holding gender constant is justified since it is

recognized that “child rearing is becoming more of a shared responsibility for

couples” (Scott 1990, 2).

A midpoint between the ages defined by Bridges and Mumford (2001) and

Leigh (1983) is chosen, that is, children who are less than or equal to 4 years of

age. This cut-off point seems more appropriate in this study since at the age of 4 to

5 years children begin kindergarten schooling in Trinidad. As such it is expected

that they would become less dependent on their parents and require less attention

at the age of 5 and onwards. Therefore,

H4: The number of young children in teachers’ families is positively related

to their absence frequency.

Occupational Characteristics

Seniority

Research concerning seniority and absenteeism has not been consistent

(Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004; Norton 1998). Some researchers have not been able

to establish any relationship between the number of years of teaching experience

and teacher attendance, for example, Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) and Kohler

and Mathieu (1993). Nonetheless, Porwoll (1980) reported that teachers with 2 to 4

years of teaching experience and more importantly those with 23 to 25 years had

the fewest absences. Another study by Ehrenberg et al. (1989) determined that the

greater the proportion of teachers older than age 55, the less number of sick leave
12

days taken. Similar results are presented by Globerson and Ben-Yshai’s (2002)

research on unionized Israeli teachers, as well as Price (1995) who explains that

past studies have also shown a negative relationship between seniority and

absenteeism.

Ehrenberg et al. (1989, 15) give valid reasons for such findings speculating that

the fewer absences of persons older than 55 years likely was due to the expected

“payoff for unused sick days … in the near future”. Also, “increased tenure could be

correlated with increased job satisfaction and more pleasant working conditions”,

which can both lead to a reduction in absenteeism for elderly teachers (Vistnes

1997, 312). On the other hand, since these workers have been in the business for

quite some time, they may feel more “secure in the job and less worried about the

repercussions of increased absenteeism” (Leigh 1986, 312). Rosenblatt and Shirom

(2004) follow the findings of Hackett (1990) who shows that, unlike age, there is no

strong relationship between seniority and absenteeism. Considering this, as well as

the ambiguous findings between tenure and absenteeism in the literature, the

hypothesis put forward by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) is proposed.

H5: There is no relationship between seniority and absence frequency.

Position Level

Higher positions are associated with lower absenteeism levels (Cooper and

Bramwell 1992; Johns 1997). This relationship may be due to the greater levels of

responsibility at higher levels of an organization (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004). With

more responsibility, a teacher’s job may seem more important to him. For this

reason, missing a day at work may be seen as having more harmful consequences.

Thus,
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H6: Teachers’ position level is negatively related to their absence

frequency.

Salary

Teachers are very responsive to salary-based incentives (Jacobson 1989).

Jacobson’s (1989) study shows that pay incentives can effectively reduce teacher

absenteeism. Other studies by Winkelmann (1999) and Globerson and Ben-Yshai

(2002) also confirm such negative relationships between salary and absenteeism.

Nevertheless, Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004, 213) explain that these studies did not

include variables such as “education, seniority, job scope, and position level”. It is

likely that salary is correlated with these predictors, which would inherently

decrease its importance. In other words, if salary is viewed as the price of labour,

Hair et al. (2005) explain that price tends to correlate highly with other factors

rendering it useless to the researcher at times. Since this study is one of those

cases where there are many other factors that may correlate with salary, the results

may be useless for this variable. Consequently, no hypothesis will be generated for

salary.

Significance of Study

The results of this study can be used in many ways. Firstly, “a profile of

[secondary school] teachers who are more prone to absence behaviour can be

drawn by means of background variables” (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004, 221).

Examination of the significant variables and their relationship on absence frequency

will provide an indicator of which characteristics are associated with frequently

absent secondary school teachers in Trinidad.


14

Secondly, these “demographic variables can also assist in the management” of

secondary school teachers. Of particular interest would be the relationship between

occupational characteristics and teachers’ absences since these occupational

variables have “policy implications” (Price 1995, 30). In other words, if significant,

some of these variables might indicate ways in which a teacher’s occupational

characteristics can be altered to reduce absence frequency.

Finally, even though these demographic variables in themselves do not explain

exactly what may be causing differences in absence frequency, they help serve as

a foundation for understanding the psychological processes that may be

contributing to absence frequency (Price 1995; Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004).


15

CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY

Study Sample and Statistical Power

Teachers who taught in the 2004 and 2005 school years are included in this

study of secondary school teacher absenteeism. The first option was to use the

same route as Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) in collecting the data. That is, to

obtain data from personnel files in Trinidad’s Ministry of Education. Unfortunately,

the Ministry of Education did not have sufficient information regarding the socio-

demographic profiles of secondary school teachers. Thus, a different path to that of

Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) was taken in the data collection stage.

Permission was gained from the Director of Schools Supervision to study

schools across the country. With this permission, a sample of schools was chosen

as opposed to the census of secondary school teachers which was used in

Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) paper. Firstly, schools from each major area of

Trinidad are included, i.e. schools from Northeast, Northwest, Central and Southern

regions of the country. Secondly, for proper representation of government schools,

both secondary government and secondary assisted schools are studied. Based on

these two components, the following solution was used to derive the sample:

1. Schools were sampled according to the ratio of fully government schools versus

assisted schools. This ratio is calculated to be 1:1.21 (Trinidad and Tobago

Telephone Directory, 2005/2006) respectively. Since the ratio is very close to 1:1,

an equal number of schools were chosen for each dimension.


16

2. Schools from each area of Trinidad are selected based on each dimension

identified in part 1. That is, one school was selected from each area (Northeast,

Northwest, Central and South) for each dimension (government and assisted).

In other words, the final sample consists of two schools from each area of

Trinidad, whereby the two schools would consist of one government and one

assisted. Hence, a total of eight schools were included in the study.

All teachers included in the sample were required to be employed in their

respective school from January 1, 2004, or earlier. Those who worked less than ten

months in either of the stated school years would be excluded from this study.

Additionally, extremely small schools were excluded from the study.

Questionnaires were administered on-site by the researcher during regular

working hours. The survey required teachers’ names on the form to allow responses

to be matched with their absenteeism records, which are sourced from each school.

In some schools, teachers are assigned a teacher number on the attendance

records and in these cases they were allowed to use their number rather than their

name. Subjects were assured confidentiality of their responses, and informed that

participation was voluntary. In many schools, the staff room/s was the main venue

for questionnaire distribution, and as such, teachers who did not frequent the staff

rooms of these schools were not included. In all, 179 questionnaires were

administered of which 163 were filled out and returned. This amounted to a 91

percent return rate. Of the surveys returned, 149 were matched with corresponding

absenteeism data from employee records. The remaining 14 questionnaires could

not be used as some teachers were unwilling to give any form of identification, while

others had recently entered the teaching profession and therefore did not meet the

stated requirements of the study. Thus, complete data was available for 83 percent

of the teachers.
17

According to Hair et al. (2005), the number of teachers who participated in this

study exceeds the minimum number that would be required. They state that the

“minimum ratio of observations to variables is 5:1” (ibid., 197). The next section

reveals that 12 independent variables are used in this study, and therefore the

minimum number of teachers that would be required is 60 (5 · 12). Hair et al. (2005)

also goes further to state that the preferred ratio should be between 15 to 20

observations for each independent variable, but they do not state for which level of

significance this number of observations is required. Tabachnick and Fidell (2001)

gives a more precise estimate as to the exact minimum number of observations that

would be required for different levels of significance, as well as for accurate r-

square and b-coefficients figures. For any specified significance level (α), and a

given number of independent variables (m), Tabachnick and Fidell (2001) suggest

that the sample size (N) should be as stated in formula 3.1.

(3.1) N ≥ (8 ÷ α) + (m - 1)

Substituting the number of independent variables used in this study into formula 3.1,

and testing at the conventional 5% level we see that the sample size should be at

least 171 teachers as shown in formula 3.2.

(3.2) N ≥ (8 ÷ 0.05) + (12 - 1)

N ≥ 160 + 11

N ≥ 171

Since the sample size in this study is less than 171, the significance level would be

set at 10% since it is more appropriate for this sample size. The sample size of 149
18

clearly exceeds the minimum requirement of 91 (calculated in formula 3.3) for this

level of significance.

(3.3) N ≥ (8 ÷ 0.10) + (12 - 1)

N ≥ 80 + 11

N ≥ 91

In testing the b-coefficients and r-square, Tabachnick and Fidell (2001) advise that

the sample size should be at least 116 and 146 respectively. For the b-coefficients,

formula 3.4 is used.

(3.4) N ≥ 104 + m

Substituting 12 for the number of independent variables (m) in formula 3.4 we then

arrive at the required number of participants for accurate b-coefficients as shown in

Formula 3.5.

(3.5) N ≥ 104 + 12

N ≥ 116

For testing the r-square formula 3.6 is used.

(3.6) N ≥ 50 + (8 · m)

Once again, substituting 12 into formula 3.6 we can arrive at:

(3.7) N ≥ 50 + (8 · 12)

N ≥ 50 + 96

N ≥ 146.
19

At this point, the sample size in this study meets both of these minimum

requirements and should therefore provide accurate r-square and b-coefficients

values.

Measures

In order to ensure anonymity of teachers, names and teacher numbers are

replaced by four-digit randomly generated personal identification numbers. All

absences are treated equally, with no consideration given to the different causes.

Such uniform treatment of absences is in line with Cascio’s (2003) definition

explained earlier. Yet, absences due to maternity leave as well as extended

absenteeism for medical reasons are excluded as they represent highly involuntary

causes of absenteeism. From the absenteeism records used, it was not possible to

determine absences due to strikes declared by Trinidad and Tobago Unified

Teachers’ Association (TTUTA). As such, these absences would have to be

included in the study, contrary to Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) work.

Absence Frequency

Absenteeism is measured by frequency (absence spells) as opposed to

duration (time lost), even though they both produce ratio data. Rosenblatt and

Shirom (2004, 214) explain that many absenteeism researchers consider absence

“spells as a measure of ‘voluntary’ absenteeism”. Furthermore, “these absence

spells have been found in previous studies to have more temporal stability than

duration measures” (Steel 2003, 214). Due to the large assortment of temporal

measures in absenteeism studies, “this attribute is important” as it allows

comparisons to be made across such studies (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004, 214).

Other research also illustrate that absence spells are more reliable than time-lost
20

measures (Melamed et al. 1995; Westman and Etzion 2001). According to

Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004), absence spells and duration measures are denoted

by total days lost per annum and total hours lost per annum respectively. The

number of days missed from work seems to be a common measure of absenteeism

in many other studies such as Ivancevich (1985), Spencer and Steers (1980),

Woods and Montagno (1997), Jacobson (1989), and Gellatly and Luchak (1998).

The 2004 measure of absence frequency is used as an independent control

variable in the statistical analysis. By doing so, we make the dependent variable

measure the change in absenteeism between the two years (Rosenblatt and Shirom

2004). Moreover, this variable forms “the best predictor of future absenteeism”

(Harrison and Price 2003). Hence, it is expected that the previous year absences

would “reflect much of the variance in the preceding years’ sociodemographic

variables” (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004).

Gender

Gender is measured by a dummy variable, and as such produce nominal data.

For gender, male = 0, and female = 1.

Number of Young Children

Teachers are asked to disclose how many children they presently have (i.e. in

2006) who are less than or equal to six years of age. The reason for this is that

these children would have been less than or equal to four years of age in 2004.

Educational Attainment

Education is measured by years of formal education even though Rosenblatt

and Shirom (2004) chose to use another method. As mentioned earlier, they

represented a teacher’s educational attainment by whether or not they had an


21

academic degree. Although this is appropriate, the former measure seems more

complete and even produces ratio data as opposed to nominal data.

Age and Seniority

Age and seniority are measured in years, thus producing ratio data. Participants

are asked their current age from which 2 years are subtracted to obtain their age in

2004.

School Position

The three main positions considered in the study are vice-principal, dean, and

form teacher. Teachers that hold any of these positions are assigned “1” for that

position. Otherwise the value will be “0”. In this manner, the results would be in

nominal form. It is assumed that these positions represent “added administrative

and pedagogical responsibilities” (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004). Principals were not

included in this study due to their understandably hectic schedules.

Salary

No hypothesis is offered for salary, and hence it is not measured. Furthermore,

the total monthly salary could not be included due to the sensitivity of this

information, especially when teachers’ names are revealed on the questionnaires.

The issue of not including salary is not of much concern since it had no explanatory

power in Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) study.

Control Variables

Three additional control variables used by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) were

included in this study; job scope, teaching load, and marital status. Job scope is

measured as a percentage of a full-time job (40 hour week). Teaching load is


22

represented by the annual number of teaching hours a teacher is expected to teach,

given his or her job scope (ibid.). To measure teaching load, teachers were asked to

disclose their current number of teaching periods for the week. In schools that used

the six-day cycle, the number of periods was converted to a five-day week by using

an average per day for the six days and then multiplying the result by five. The

number of teaching periods for the five days was multiplied by the period length (in

minutes) to obtain the number of teaching minutes per week, which was then

multiplied by the number of teaching weeks per year (estimated at 41 weeks, with

terms 1, 2, and 3 being 15, 14, and 12 weeks respectively). The resulting figure was

the number of teaching minutes per year which was simply divided by sixty to obtain

the annual number of teaching hours. Marital status was defined as married = 1 and

not married = 0.

Since it is likely that teachers would not be able to recall their work hours and

number of teaching periods for the year 2004, they were asked to give this

information for the year, 2006. For this reason, an assumption was made that there

have been no considerable changes in job scope and teaching load for the past two

years. This seems like a reasonable assumption in this profession.

Hierarchical multiple regression is used to test all hypotheses since the data

must be entered in a chronological order based on logical considerations. Unlike

stepwise regression in which predictors are chosen “on the basis of statistics”, or

simultaneous regression in which “all of the predictors [are entered] into the analysis

at once”, hierarchical regression allows the researcher to enter the predictors in a

specified order based on theory (Petrocelli 2003). This order is described in the

ensuing chapter and follows that of Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004) work. Their

order is followed since the same variables are used, and it is necessary to control
23

some of these variables in a sequential manner. This hierarchical technique also

allows for examining of variables in such a way that

The relative importance of a predictor may be judged on the basis of how much it adds to
the prediction of the criterion … over and above that contributed by predictor variables
entered earlier in the analysis (Petrocelli 2003)
This characteristic is especially important since the predictability of demographic

factors and job positions can be measured “over and above” prior absenteeism

(Petrocelli 2003). In this case, hierarchical regression analysis is appropriate,

provided that prior absenteeism is entered into the analysis first, followed by

demographic factors and then job positions.

Excluded Data

The number of schools a teacher taught at per year was excluded as a control

variable due to its lack of relevance in the sample. Of the 146 teachers in the

sample, 98 percent taught in only one school. Hence there was no need to control

this variable. Also, the number of days taken for pregnancy leave did not need to be

subtracted from the days absent for any teacher since the school records already

accommodated for such leave.

Examination of the Data

Before any interpretation, the data is firstly examined to ensure that it meets all

requirements for a regression analysis. The ensuing techniques that are used to

assess the data would help to ensure that “the results obtained from the multivariate

analysis [i.e. regression analysis] are truly valid and accurate” (Hair et al. 2005, 41).

The data would be evaluated in terms of the missing data, outliers, and the

assumptions underlying regression analysis. The statistical package for the social

sciences (SPSS) is used for all statistical analyses hereafter.


24

Evaluation of Missing Data

The extent of missing data is clearly low enough to not affect the results.

Seniority, age and marital status each have a single missing value which amounts

to less than 1 percent for each variable. Furthermore, these missing values occur

for separate cases. Thus, the study sample would be reduced by a mere 3 cases if

the data were to be used as is. Still, in order to avoid the loss of two of these three

cases in the regression analysis, an imputation method is used. Since no patterns

would exist when the missing data occurs in only one case for each of the three

variables, any imputation method can be used (Hair et al. 2005). The EM approach

in SPSS is used to calculate replacement values since it has shown a general

consistency with other imputation methods such as the mean substitution and all-

available approaches (ibid.). Also, the EM method attempts “to model the processes

underlying the missing data and to make the most accurate and reasonable

estimates possible” (ibid., 58). Note that it is possible to calculate the missing values

for the quantitative variables only, i.e. cases number 6356 and 9783 for age and

seniority respectively, and not for the dummy variable marital status (case number

1497). As such, the number of cases now available for the regression analysis is

148.

Identification of Outliers

Problematic outliers can distort the statistical tests since these outliers “are not

representative of the population”. The outliers identified in this study “are the result

of an extraordinary event, which accounts for the uniqueness of the observation”

(Hair et al. 2005, 73). In accordance to Hair et al. (2005), more than one perspective

is utilized in detecting the problematic outliers in the data. Variables are examined

from univariate and multivariate perspectives (ibid.), which are complemented with
25

graphical displays. Comparison of the observations across these three methods

provides the basis for retention/deletion of cases.

Univariate Detection

The observations are firstly examined individually on each quantitative variable.

Observations with standardized values exceeding ± 2.5 are noted in table 3.1. The

univariate analysis shows that only observations 7500 and 9628 (italicized in table

3.1) exceed the threshold on more than one variable. Observation 7500 had a
*
particularly extreme standardized value of 7.03 for education. The two cases are

monitored for the next two assessments.

TABLE 3.1

UNIVARIATE OUTLIERS
(Cases with Standardized Values Exceeding ± 2.5)

Variable Case/s
Abs04 6287
Abs05 7904, 7500
Seniority04 6422, 7500
Education 7019, 4243, 4372, 7500
JobScope 9628, 9781, 8753, 5853, 7260
TeachingLoadAnnual 2376, 7727, 9628, 5973, 8452, 3400
Age04 No cases
NumberOfChildren4 3431

Multivariate Detection
2
The multivariate outliers are assessed using the Mahalanobis D measure (see

table 3.2).This analysis assesses “the position of each observation compared with
2
the center of all observations on a set of variables” (Hair et al. 2005, 77). The D /df

value allows for the calculation of outliers through an approximate test of statistical

*
Not shown in table 3.1.
26

2
significance (ibid.). Any D /df value exceeding 3 can be considered significantly

different. This threshold of 3 is appropriate considering the sample size of only 148

observations (ibid.). Table 3.2 shows that 6 cases are identified as exceeding this

threshold. Cases 5853, 7500, 4372 and 7260 are all identified in the univariate

analysis as well. These observations will be under particular scrutiny in the

graphical analysis. Note that case 9628 identified in the univariate analysis is not

detected here.

TABLE 3.2

MULTIVARIATE OUTLIERS
2
(Cases with a Value of D /df Greater
than 3.0, df = 12)
2 2
Case D D /df
4452 74.93 6.24
5853 38.65 3.22
1656 74.93 6.24
7500 61.32 5.11
4372 46.88 3.91
7260 63.17 5.26
2
Notes: The Mahalanobis D value is
based on the 12 independent variables.

Graphical Detection

The final outlier analysis involves the use of boxplots as a supplement to the

empirical analyses. The boxplots are shown in appendix F. For teaching load and

number of young children, the outliers are quite close to the whiskers of their

associated boxplots indicating that they are not extreme outliers. Yet, there are

noticeably extreme outliers in the boxplots for the variables of education and job

scope. The cases that seem to differ substantially from the rest of the data are 7260

and 5853 for job scope, and 7500 and 4372 for education. Notice that these are the
27

same four cases identified in both the univariate and multivariate analyses. Case

7500 in particular shows consistent results in all of the analyses. On the contrary,

case 9628 is once again not seen as a problematic outlier.

The results of the three diagnostic tests indicate that observations 7500 and

7260 demonstrate the characteristics of problematic outliers that should be

eliminated. Deletion of these two outliers would help improve the regression

analysis without limiting its generalizability since they represent a mere 1.35 percent

of the sample size. The deletion of case 7260 is given support by Rosenblatt and

Shirom (2004, 214) who exclude from their study, “teachers who taught less than 30

percent or more than 160 percent of a full-time job”. Note that this is the only case

that violates this restriction. The number of cases now available for the regression

analysis is reduced to 146. This number still meets the minimum requirement of 146

identified at the beginning of this chapter. Table 3.3 illustrates the final number of

teachers who are included in the study by school and area. Schools’ names are not

disclosed for confidentiality purposes. Even though the largest portion of the sample

is derived from the Northwestern regions of Trinidad, the percentage of teachers

from each area is relatively equal.

TABLE 3.3

TEACHERS FROM DIFFERENT AREAS, BY TYPE OF SCHOOL

N Northwest Northeast Central South


Government 79 30.4% 25.3% 22.8% 21.5%
Assisted 67 32.8% 19.4% 22.4% 25.4%
Total 146 31.5% 22.6% 22.6% 23.3%
28

Statistical Assumptions Underlying the Regression Analysis

The three assumptions of regression are addressed in terms of the individual

variables, where the overall relationship will be examined after the model is

estimated.

Normality

Contrary to Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2005) study, the absenteeism data for

both years in the present study conforms to the fundamental assumption of

normality. The thresholds used in Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2005) study to

determine departures from normality are ±2 for skewness and ±7 for kurtosis (West

et al. 1995). The 2,199 absence spells in 2005 ranged between 0 and 35 incidents

per person, with a mean of 15.06, standard deviation 7.64, skewness 0.015, and

kurtosis -0.654; the cut-off points are not exceeded for absenteeism in 2005. In

addition to the use of this statistical test, Hair et al. (2005) suggests the use of

histograms that approximate the normal distribution, as well as the more reliable

normal probability plots (see appendix G). The 7 metric independent variables are

analyzed for normality along these three dimensions. Of these 7 variables,

education and job scope show some deviation from normality in the tests.

All the transformations recommended by Hair et al. (2005) are applied to the 7

variables, after which the most appropriate transformed variable is selected. Table

3.4 shows the appropriate remedy for each variable. The graphical analyses in

appendix G helped to identify the best transformation for some variables in which

the various transformations showed similar statistical improvements. Clearly, these

transformations improve five of the seven variables, with marked improvements in

education and teaching load. Job scope is also more normal, but with some

peakedess in the graphical display (see app. G5) since it is the only the variable
29

TABLE 3.4

NORMALITY TESTING AND REMEDIES

Variable Skewness Kurtosis Description of Transformation


Statistic Statistic the Distribution
a
Abs04 0.001 -0.684 Normal
distribution
Seniority04
Original form 0.663 -0.493 Slight positive Square root
skew and
peakedness
Transformed -0.061 -0.683
Education
Original form 4.003 25.476 Highly peaked, Logarithm
positive
skewness
Transformed 0.537 6.517
JobScope
Original form 3.317 22.055 Highly peaked, Logarithm
positive
skewness
Transformed 1.138 14.388
TeachingLoadAnnual
Original form -1.667 5.331 Peaked with a Squared term
negative skew
Transformed -.140 2.231
Age04
Original form 0.475 -0.922 Peaked Inverse
Transformed 0.218 -0.900
b
NoOfChildren4 1.635 1.486 Peaked with a
positive skew
a
The transformations applied to Abs04 did not improve the normality of the distribution.
b
No transformation is applied for NoOfChildren4 since the transformations for this variable
yielded negligible improvements to its distribution.

which still exceeds the cut off point for kurtosis. With such improvements in

normality, use of these 5 transformed variables would “increase confidence in the

interpretations and predictions” from the regression analysis (ibid., 208). Moreover,

remedying normality first may assist in meeting the other statistical assumptions
30

(ibid.). Even with these benefits, one needs to be cautious in the interpretation stage

since the transformations “may change the interpretation of the variables” (ibid., 88).

Linearity

Linearity is assessed through scatterplots of the individual variables (see

scatterplot matrices in app. H). These scatterplots, for both the original (app. H2) as

well as the transformed variables (app. H1), did not reveal any non linear

relationships between the dependent variable and the independent variable. Hence

the assumption of linearity is met.

Homoscedasticity

In the same fashion as Hair et al. (2005), the Levene test is used to compare

the variance of each of the metric variables across the five non metric variables in

the data set. Appendix J shows this comparison, where a significant F-value for

Levene’s test indicates that the variances for the two groups are significantly

different. With respect to the transformed variables, the dummy variables of dean

and gender have minor problems with heteroscedasticity. For the metric variables,

only number of young children shows patterns of heteroscedasticity on more than

two of the nonmetric variables. The transformations have markedly reduce the

heteroscedasticity for education, job scope and teaching load, while the inverse of

age has actually lead to a small increase in heteroscedasticity. Evidently, the only

problematic case of heteroscedasticity occurs between marital status and number of

children. It is important to note that some transformations for number of children

created negligible improvements to its normality, but lead to a noticeable increase in

heteroscedasticity for this variable. In order to avoid distorting the regression

through the use of weighted least squares regression, and since it is likely that this

problem was experienced in past studies, the variable will be kept in its original
31

form. Also, Pryce (2002, 31) explains that “any heteroscedasticity that remains [after

transformations] is unlikely to be particularly harmful”.

Whilst transformations helped to improve the normality of five variables, and the

homoscedasticity of three, they did not notably improve the linearity of the variables

since the original form of these variables already met that assumption. Hereafter, all

variables transformed in table 3.4 will be used in its transformed form, unless

otherwise specified.
32

CHAPTER 4

RESULTS

Correlational Analyses

Table 4.1 shows the matrix of intercorrelations along with the means and

standard deviations for all the study variables. The Pearson correlation coefficient is

used to determine the strength of correlations. Absenteeism in 2004, marital status,

gender, age, and number of children less than 4 years of age were correlated

significantly with absenteeism in 2005. The positive correlation coefficient for

absenteeism in 2004 is particularly high, indicating that high absence values in 2004

tend to occur with high absence values in 2005 and vice versa.

Whilst high correlations between the independent variables and the dependent

variable maximize prediction in regression, correlations between independent

variables should be minimal (Hair et al. 2005). Robinson (2000) suggests that the

correlation coefficient should be less than 0.75 for these correlations between

independent variables. Notable significant correlations occur between dean and

teaching load, dean and seniority, dean and age, dean and form teacher, and

marital status and number of young children. Still, these correlations do not exceed

the limit given by Robinson (2000). The only problematic correlation is that between

age and seniority which has a significant and extremely high correlation coefficient

of -0.923. Caution must be taken in examining any correlations with age since the

transformation for this variable will affect the sign of the coefficient as will be

explained shortly. The extent of the problem between age and seniority is judged

after conducting the regression analysis.


33

TABLE 4.1

INTERCORRELATIONS, MEANS AND STANDARD DEVIATIONS FOR THE STUDY’S VARIABLES

Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Mean SD
1 Abs05 1 .702** .072 -.034 -.111 -.001 .166* .281** .167* .294** .073 -.116 -.085 15.062 7.642
2 Abs04 .702** 1 .079 -.038 -.003 .032 .159 .256** .044 .207* .042 -.114 .065 16.373 8.052
TeachingLoad
3 .072 .079 1 .177* -.091 .073 -.045 .101 .111 .071 .031 -.321** .198* 401184 136191
Annual
4 JobScope -.034 -.038 .177* 1 -.072 .049 .058 -.001 .053 .047 -.026 .029 -.094 -0.087 0.046
5 Seniority04 -.111 -.003 -.091 -.072 1 .165* .242** -.213** -.923** -.187* .163* .368** -.217** 3.365 1.385
6 Education -.001 .032 .073 .049 .165* 1 .008 -.170* -.131 -.012 .001 .103 .122 1.056 0.120
7 MaritalStatus .166* .159 -.045 .058 .242** .008 1 .009 -.260** .363** -.026 .103 -.034 0.610 0.490
8 Gender .281** .256** .101 -.001 -.213** -.170* .009 1 .234** .115 .089 -.262** .163* 0.637 0.483
9 Age04 .167* .044 .111 .053 -.923** -.131 -.260** .234** 1 .192* -.154 -.343** .259** 0.029 0.007
10 NoOfChildren4 .294** .207* .071 .047 -.187* -.012 .363** .115 .192* 1 -.065 -.123 .046 0.390 0.708
11 VicePrincipal .073 .042 .031 -.026 .163* .001 -.026 .089 -.154 -.065 1 -.054 -.206* 0.014 0.117
12 Dean -.116 -.114 -.321** .029 .368** .103 .103 -.262** -.343** -.123 -.054 1 -.415** 0.171 0.378
13 FormTeacher -.085 .065 .198* -.094 -.217** .122 -.034 .163* .259** .046 -.206* -.415** 1 0.753 0.433

** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


34

Hierarchical Regression Analysis

To test the study’s hypotheses, a hierarchical regression analysis is used.

Results are given in table 4.2.

TABLE 4.2

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005
a b a 2 c
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2 c
1 Abs04 0.603*** 0.057 .635 .493*** .493
2 JobScope -7.837 9.736 -.047 .538* .046
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.000 0.000 .019
Seniority04 0.918 0.838 .166
Education 2.734 3.816 .043
MaritalStatus 1.102 1.028 .071
Gender 1.474* 0.986 .093
Age04 344.820** 164.873 .317
NoOfChildren4 1.111* 0.700 .103
3 VicePrincipal 1.108 3.937 .017 .542 .004
4 Dean -1.110 1.431 -.055 .543 .001
5 FormTeacher -3.935*** 1.189 -.223 .578*** .035
a
The symbols B and β represent the unstandardized and standardized coefficients
respectively.
b
The standard error of the unstandardized coefficients is denoted by SEB.
c
The symbols R2 and jR2 stand for the R-square and change in R-square respectively.

* p < .15; ** p < .05; *** p < .01.

All variables are entered in the order specified by Rosenblatt and Shirom

(2004). Since the transformed variables are likely to have a different interpretation

to the original variables, their significance and relationship are compared to the

original model in table K1. If similar, then the interpretation will relate to the variable
35

as if it was in its original form. Otherwise, the transformed variable will be explained

in terms of its different interpretation.

In the first step, absenteeism in the year 2004 was entered. The results show

that such prior absenteeism was a highly significant (β = 0.635, p < 0.01) predictor
2
of absenteeism and explains the majority of the variance in absence frequency (R =

0.493). Removal of prior absenteeism as a predictor showed that all other predictors

explain about 23 percent of the variance of absenteeism (see table K2 for this

analysis). Since the variance explained by these same predictors are considerably

less when absenteeism is entered in the first step, then it is apparent that prior

absence frequency shares a substantial amount of variance with the other

predictors.

In step 2, the control variables of job scope and teaching load are entered

followed by the socio-demographic variables of seniority, education, marital status,

gender, age, and number of children less than four years of age. The first two

control variables had no significant relationship to absenteeism in both the original

and transformed models. Seniority and education were not related to absenteeism

in both models either, supporting H3 and H5. The control variable of marital status

did not emerge as a significant predictor. The relationship between gender and

absenteeism, whilst significant only at a 15% level of significance, cannot fully

support H1. Age is related to absenteeism as proposed, however results show an

opposite relationship to H2 in the transformed model. Still, the original model shows

a negative relationship as hypothesized. The reason for this is that the inverse

transformation for age means that higher values for age are associated with

younger teachers, and vice versa. Therefore, a positive relationship in the

transformed model really means that younger teachers (higher age values) are

related to higher absenteeism, and vice versa. Hence, the inverse transformation
36

will need to show a positive sign for the hypothesis to be supported, but the

relationship between the original variables will be negative. Finally, the number of

young children in a teacher’s family was related to absenteeism at a 15% level of

significance providing some support for H4. The variables in the model up to this
2
stage explain 53.8% of the absence variance, representing a sizeable R change of

0.046 in the predictive power of the predictors in step 2.

Since gender and number of young children were significant at a 15% level of

significance, additional independent-samples t tests were conducted to decide

whether they should be of concern. For gender, the t test (see app. L2) confirms

that there was a highly significant difference in absences between men and women

in both 2005 (t = 3.51, p = .001) and 2004 (t = 3.18, p = .002). In other words, the

average absences for women (X̄ = 16.68, SD = 7 in 2005; and X̄ = 17.93, SD = 7.76

in 2004) was significantly higher than that of men (X̄ = 12.23, SD = 7.97 in 2005;

and X̄ = 13.65, SD = 7.9 in 2004). The t test for presence of dependent children

(see app. L1) also shows that there is a highly significant difference in absences

between teachers with young children and those without in both 2005 (t = 3.47, p =

.001) and 2004 (t = 3.15, p = .002). That is, the average absences for teachers with

young children (X̄ = 18.56, SD = 6.76 in 2005; and X̄ = 19.44, SD = 6.61 in 2004)

was significantly higher than that of teachers with no young children (X̄ = 13.79, SD

= 7.57 in 2005; and X̄ = 15.26, SD = 8.26 in 2004). Both t tests confirm that these

variables are still of some importance even though there are only significant at a 15

percent level of significance.

The three position levels were entered hierarchically, from the third to the fifth

stage of the regression analysis. Form teacher was the only position significantly

related to absenteeism and in the hypothesized direction (β = -0.223, p < 0.01). This
37

position was highly significant and explained a relatively large variance of 3.5

percent, providing partial support for H6.

In summary, the hypotheses put forward for seniority, education, and age are

supported, whereas only partial support is given for the hypotheses proposed for

number of young children, position level, and gender. Overall, results show that

secondary school teachers who are frequently absent, exhibit high prior

absenteeism, are younger in age, and less likely to hold the position of form

teacher. Furthermore, they may be female teachers, and have children who are less

than or equal to four years of age. These results are consistent with the model when

estimated with the original variables, with the exception of a less pronounced

significance for age and number of young children. Hence, interpretation of the

variables will be in their untransformed format for discussion purposes.

Evaluating the Variate

So far we have only examined the assumptions of regression analysis with

respect to the individual variables. Since the regression model is now estimated, the

assumptions can now be assessed in terms of the variate as well (Hair et al. 2005).

Comparison of the Residual Plot to the Null Plot

Heteroscedasticity, nonlinearity and nonrandom residuals can all be diagnosed

through examination of residual plots. The studentized residuals are plotted against

the predicted dependent values (see fig. 4.1) and compared to the null plot. The

residual plots for the original data as well as the transformed variables show a

consistent pattern to the null plot. In other words, the residuals fall randomly, “with

relatively equal dispersion about zero and no strong tendency to be either greater or

less than zero” (Hair et al. 2005, 205). Therefore, in terms of the residual plot, the
38

Fig. 4.1. Residual plots for (A) all variables in their original form as well as for
(B) the variables after transformation of seniority, education, job scope,
teaching load, and age.

(A)

(B)
39

assumptions of homoscedasticity, linearity, and independence of error terms are

met and no corrective actions seem necessary. In spite of this, Hair et al. (2005)

recommend an additional specific test for linearity to ensure that no violations are

made.

Linearity

Linearity is assessed through partial regression plots for each independent

variable (see app. M). The plots show that the relationship for absenteeism in 2004

is the best defined, with age, number of dependent children, and form teacher being

reasonably well defined. Variables such as seniority, teaching load and dean show

no clear definition in terms of scatter points as evidenced by their lack of impact in

the regression model. All twelve variables show no nonlinear pattern, demonstrating

that all the independent variables meet the assumption of linearity.

Normality

The normality of the error term of the variate is checked by means of a visual

inspection of the normal probability plots of the residuals (see fig. 4.2). Figure 4.2

shows that the values for the data with and without the transformed variables fall

along the diagonal “with no substantial or systematic departures” (Hair et al. 2005),

indicating that the residuals are distributed normally in both data sets. Additionally,

careful inspection of the two diagrams shows that the distribution of the data with

the transformed variables appears slightly more normal. Clearly, the regression

variate meets the assumption of normality.

Assessing Multicollinearity

Multicollinearity not only reduces the predictive ability of the regression model,

but can also adversely affect the regression coefficients and their statistical
40

Fig. 4.2. Normal probability plot of the residuals for (A) all variables in their
original form as well as for (B) the variables after transformation of seniority,
education, job scope, teaching load, and age.

(A)

(B)
41

significance tests (Hair et al. 2005). Since the entire study is based upon the

predictability of the model, as well as the significance of the variables,

multicollinearity is of a major concern. The variance inflation factor (VIF) is used to

measure multicollinearity, and the common cutoff threshold of 10 is used (Hair et

al.). As mentioned earlier, table 4.1 shows that age and seniority have a particularly

high correlation and as a result these variables would be under scrutiny in

assessing their respective VIF values. Table 4.3 shows that if these variables were

kept in their original form, their VIF values would almost exceed the threshold.

Moreover, this level of multicollinearity may be considered excessive even though

the VIF does not exceed the cutoff point. The transformation of the variables (shown

in table 4.3) appreciably reduces the level multicollinearity to more acceptable

levels, giving further justification for the use of the transformed variables.

TABLE 4.3

VARIANCE INFLATION FACTOR

VIF
Original Transformed
Variables Variables
Abs04 1.14 1.15
JobScope 1.10 1.08
TeachingLoad
Annual 1.20 1.19
Seniority04 9.12 7.26
Education 1.15 1.12
MaritalStatus 1.35 1.37
Gender 1.21 1.22
Age04 9.20 7.23
NoOfChildren4 1.39 1.32
VicePrincipal 1.15 1.14
Dean 1.67 1.58
FormTeacher 1.47 1.42
42

Empirical Model Validation

Validation of results is important to ensure that they are “generalizable to the

population and not specific to the sample used in estimation” (Hair et al. 2005). The
2
validity of the model is assessed by the adjusted R , as well as examination of split-

half sub-samples (ibid.).


2
The adjusted R value reveals little loss in predictive power when compared to
2 *
the R value (.540 versus .578). The small difference between the two values

indicates an absence of overfitting.

In the second method, the sample is divided into two parts; the first part is used

as the regression model, and the second holdout portion is used to test that model.

In other words, both sub-samples are compared to identify any similarities or

differences. Even though the small sample size may yield a poor training model, the

model’s sole use would be for comparison with the holdout portion. Random

assignment to each sample is conducted in SPSS, and the results are presented in

tables K3 and K4.


2
The overall model fit shows a high level of similarity in terms of R . The
2
adjusted R and standard error of the estimate (0.467 and 5.68 for the training

sample, and 0.563 and 4.97 for the test sample ) are also comparable, reinforcing

the similarity of the overall model fit. On the other hand, comparison of the individual

coefficients shows some differences. In the training model, prior absenteeism and

form teacher are the only variables that are entered. Yet, in the test model, these

two variables as well as gender, age, and even dean qualify for inclusion. The

omission of gender and age in one of the subsamples suggests that these may be

marginal predictors (ibid.). For gender, this notion is confirmed by its relatively low

*
Not shown in table 4.2.

Not shown in tables K3 and K4.
43

beta in the overall model. Age, on the other hand, is a strong predictor in the main

regression model. The small sample size, which was mentioned earlier as possibly

causing poor results in the training model, may have lead to age being omitted. The

significance of deans in the test model may be due to the high dispersion of

absences for this group (which is explained in the next chapter) in combination with

a small sample size, which may have lead to deans with low absences being

assigned primarily to the test group.

Both empirical approaches give sound results in terms of model validation.

Accordingly, the final results should relate to the total census. Nonetheless,

The need for continued validation efforts and model refinements reminds us that no
regression model, unless estimated from the entire population, is the final and absolute
model (ibid.)
44

CHAPTER 5

DISCUSSION

The purpose of this study was to predict the frequency of teacher absenteeism

in Government secondary schools in Trinidad by personal and job characteristics.

The results of the study provide additional current empirical information to the

ageing literature on the use of these background variables in determining teacher

absenteeism. The findings also substantiate the role of these demographic factors

in explaining absenteeism changes from one year to another, while controlling for

the effects of other predictors.

Clearly, absenteeism in the previous year explained most of the variance of

absenteeism in 2005 (49.3 percent out of 57.8 percent), and was highly related to

this criterion. This result is not only quite similar to Rosenblatt and Shirom’s (2004)

study, but also with others in the literature such as Ivancevich (1985). Farrell and

Stamm (1988) reported that the mean correlation coefficient between prior

absenteeism and present absenteeism over ten studies was r = 0.71. The

correlation in this study is strikingly similar (r = 0.702) indicating that the importance

of previous absenteeism as a predictor has not changed from past years. A

longitudinal research design by Breaugh (1981) showed that past absenteeism was

a better predictor of current absenteeism than work attitudes such as job

involvement, work satisfaction, and supervisory satisfaction. This study confirms

that previous absenteeism does explain more of the variance in current

absenteeism than a supervisory position such as form teacher. Further research

can possibly incorporate job involvement and work satisfaction in the model for

comparison purposes.
45

Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) give two possible reasons for such a high

explanatory power of previous teacher absenteeism. In accordance to Rentsch and

Steel (2003) and Johns (1994), Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004, 218) suggest that

“teachers tend to adopt environmental norms regarding absenteeism thus exhibiting

similar behaviours”. In other words, they “tend to adjust their own absence

behaviour to what they see as typical of their group” (Johns 1994, 213). Rosenblatt

and Shirom (2004) also infer that the power of prior absence as a predictor may lie

in the fact that the common reasons taken for absences in one year may be the

same reasons taken for absences in the following year, for example illnesses. The

evidence in this study shows that the number of sick leave days taken in a year

appears similar to that of the previous year (see boxplots in app. N1). The results of

a paired-samples t test (see app. N2) confirm this speculation as there was no

significant difference in the mean number of sick leave days taken between 2005

(X̄ = 7.83, SD = 4.91) and 2004 (X̄ = 8.85, SD = 5.06) when tested at a 1% level of

significance (t = 2.32, p = 0.02). Note that sick leave data was unavailable in one of

the schools from the West and as such N = 124 rather than 146.

Unlike other studies, the two control variables job scope and teaching load did

not contribute to the explanation of absenteeism. A relatively small standard

deviation for the variable of job scope (refer to table D1), along with complementary

graphical analyses (see app. P1), reveals that these working hours were very

similar for each teacher. As such it is likely that no relationship would be detected

for job scope. In contrast, teaching hours exhibited a more dispersed pattern,

varying for each teacher (see app. P2). As such it is expected that teaching hours,

which is sourced from the number of periods taught, should be related to

absenteeism. This result may suggest a strong work ethic amongst secondary

school teachers in Trinidad since more teaching periods for teachers are not
46

accompanied by additional absences. This result also means that a reduction in

teaching load will not necessarily lead to a decline in absenteeism.

Hypotheses relating to sociodemographic variables are at least partially

supported in all cases. The personal variable which was most related to

absenteeism was age. The relationship indicated that younger teachers were more

frequently absent than their elder counterparts. This relationship supports the

majority of the literature providing support for the belief that older employees are

more committed to their job and may even benefit from better working conditions.

Further exploration is needed to understand “the exact dynamics behind age”

(Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004, 219).

Education was unrelated to absenteeism adding to the notion that when

measured more comprehensively, no relationship will be found. Therefore, in the

context of Trinidad, a higher education for secondary school teachers does not

necessarily lead to more commitment to the job. Furthermore, education levels may

not determine the level of autonomy at work as teachers possibly share similar

levels of control as guided by the school curriculum.

The number of children less than four years of age in the teacher’s family was

significantly related to absenteeism and in the hypothesized direction, but at a 15

percent level of significance. However, the independent-samples t test shows that

this variable should be given some consideration with respect to absenteeism.

When replaced by the number of children regardless of age, as used in Rosenblatt

and Shirom’s (2004) study, no relationship was found (see table K5) indicating that

ages of children, and not the number, are of importance. The extra child care

commitments may lead to increased absenteeism for both men and women, which

is indicative of the changing times where male parents are taking a more active role

in the raising of their children. In future studies of this kind, it may prove beneficial to
47

include other age groups for the children, for example, number of children less than

six and less than two years of age.

Whilst gender is not significant at the alpha level set for this study, to ignore its

significance at a 15 percent level would be unwise. Like number of young children,

the independent-samples t test gives strong support for recognizing this variable

even with its borderline significance. The coefficient in the regression model shows

a positive relationship for gender indicating that female teachers exhibit higher

absences than male teachers, even when factors such as education, number of

young children and seniority were held constant. This result agrees with many of the

earlier studies, and may imply that women’s efforts are more directed towards

household duties. Such a result may even be a sign of a lower status of women

teachers in the country, which may be causing them to become disgusted towards

their job. It is well documented that such dissatisfaction can lead to “withdrawal from

the workplace” (Jacobson [1989?], 3). This issue then raises the question as to

whether the roles of men and women teachers in these government secondary

schools are as similar as in other countries. Another consideration is that women

teachers may simply face more pressures in these schools which may lead to

increased absenteeism. It is possible that students may exploit a female teacher’s

delicate nature. In some cases, these softer female teachers may even develop

closer relationships with students which can lead to the teacher becoming more

emotionally attached and as such more mentally exhausted. A larger sample size

may give more solid results for this variable as well as for the number of young

children in a teacher’s family.

In the socialization process, new teachers (which may include young persons,

women, and minorities) may often have daunting initial experiences which can

affect their absenteeism levels. They may develop feelings of isolation “when their
48

cultural differences prevent them from obtaining interesting and challenging work

assignments” which may be necessary to learn vital “job-related skills” and “to

qualify for promotions”. They may also “experience additional stresses if they feel

they must become ‘bicultural’ in order to be accepted by coworkers in the majority

group” (Desimone et al. 2002, 642). These feelings of isolation and stress can

cause resentment towards the organization in the early stages of the individual’s

career, and thus lead to frequent absences. A further problem may exist after entry

into the school when individuals recognize that gender and age stereotypes are

affecting human resource decisions such as promotion (Johns and Saks 2001).

Retaliation to such biases may take the form of increased absenteeism for young

and/or female teachers.

The occupational variable of seniority was not associated to absenteeism unlike

some past studies but similar to the more recent study conducted by Rosenblatt and

Shirom (2004). This lack of association is expected since increased tenure can

cause both increased and reduced absenteeism as explained in the literature.

The results for school positions are unusual in the case of deans and better

than expected in terms of form teachers. Approximately 17 percent of the teachers

who participated in this study were deans of their respective schools (see table D5).

Surprisingly, no relationship was found for this group of teachers. Closer

examination of the absence data for deans reveals that some deans have a very

low number of absences whilst others exhibit extremely high absence frequencies.

The high standard deviation relative to the mean for each year supports this

suspicion (see table Q1). The number of absences was profiled according to

location to determine whether any relationship would emerge (see table Q2 and

app. Q3). The results given in the graph are quite distinct as it helps to show which

areas are accountable for the higher absence frequencies. The mean number of
49

absences for deans was noticeably higher in the Eastern and Southern areas of

Trinidad, whereas in the Northwestern region the absence frequency was quite low.

Possible explanations for the higher absences in the aforementioned areas may be

transportation problems, flooding, or other structural problems in those areas. It may

prove instrumental to incorporate location in the regression analysis once a larger

sample size is obtained to determine whether this argument is valid for all teachers.

Another reason for some persons in this position showing high absences may be

due to their experiencing a role overload accompanied by heavy responsibilities

which in some cases may lead to increased stress, resulting in decreased job

satisfaction and subsequently greater absences.

The position of form teacher is not only highly related to absenteeism in the

expected direction, but also explains a relatively large portion of the variance for a

single variable. The extra duties and responsibilities of form teachers may not be as

demanding as deans. At the same time, unlike a regular teacher, the position of

form teacher may motivate the worker intrinsically since it likely provides higher skill

variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and job feedback (Hackman and

Oldham 1980). Hence, this post seems to strike a balance between the workloads

of deans and regular teachers in such a way that it leads to reduced absenteeism.

Finally, the position of vice principal was not adequately represented since only two

vice principals (approximately 1 percent of all cases) participated in the study. Thus,

results are inconclusive for this position.

In summary, the study examined the relationship between government

secondary school teachers’ personal background characteristics and their change in

absenteeism from 2004 to 2005. After controlling for absenteeism in 2004, job

scope, and teaching load, the variables that clearly contributed to absence

behaviour were age and form teacher. The number of dependent children in a
50

teacher’s family, as well as gender of the teacher, may have some relationship to

absenteeism, but the results are not strong. Finally, statistical proof supports the

proposition that education and seniority are unrelated to teacher absenteeism. The

findings agree with some of the previous research and disagree with others, which

is to be expected since there is a great amount of inconsistency in such

absenteeism studies (Muchinsky 1977). Spencer and Steers (1980) explain that

such inconsistent results in these absenteeism studies may be due to the type of

sample used. Since this study is the first of its kind in Trinidad, the different results

may very well be attributed to the different sample used.

Limitations and Recommendations

From the results, it becomes immediately apparent that a larger sample size

can lead to more conclusive results in the case of gender and number of children.

Approximately three months were needed to collect data from the eight secondary

schools. If there were no time limitations, better results should be obtained by

including at least another four schools in the study. Vice principals and principals

may also be fully represented in the study since they can be allowed to fill out

questionnaires at their convenience.

An increased sample size may also facilitate the addition of possible influential

variables. Since the number of young children in a teacher’s family showed some

significance, this then raises the question as to whether the number of elderly

dependents may also be related (Desimone et al. 2002). Location or, more

appropriately, distance to work (Scott 1990) has been identified as another possible

variable to add to the study. Rosenblatt and Shirom also recommend the addition of

school-level variables such as school size, attendance policy, hierarchy level, and

leadership style. Furthermore, group level factors may be of importance since


51

“individual absence is affected to varying degrees by the collective behaviours of

others” (Gellatly and Luchak 1998). Other non demographic variables found to be

important in the literature include absence culture, psychological contract

(Mohammed and Ignace 1992), alcohol involvement (Brooke 1986, Jacobson

[1989?]), job satisfaction (Brooke 1986, Mohammed and Ignace 1992, Jacobson

[1989?]), health status (Brooke 1986, Vistnes 1997), and stress (Addae 1998).

Stress, in particular was cited in Addae’s (1998) study as the primary actual reason

for employee absenteeism in Trinidad.

Personal communication with teachers of some schools confirms another

limitation which was identified by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004); there is no way to

check the reliability of the record keeping. In some instances teachers may sign the

attendance for the entire day and yet leave the school compound during the lunch

break without returning for afternoon classes. Also, teachers may sometimes forget

to sign the attendance register which can lead to an overstated number of absent

days. It was noted that new programs were being implemented in one of the

schools in order to monitor absences more closely. For example, the security guard

taking note of teachers when they leave and reenter the compound. The guard’s

notes would then be compared to the attendance record in order to identify any

irregularities. Such programs along with stricter record-keeping procedures can

improve the accuracy of the data for further studies.

The study is further limited with respect to the two consecutive years being used

to gauge a teacher’s absenteeism (Rosenblatt and Shirom 2004). Rosenblatt and

Shirom (2004) suggest that such a study be replicated via a longitudinal design,

“where data over a number of years are used” (ibid.). Such a design will lead to

more conclusive results, and even account for changes in a teacher’s background

traits such as marital status, number of dependent children, etc. (ibid.).


52

Regardless of all the limitations, the findings of the research do add

rationalization for the use and importance of background variables, in line with

Price’s (1995) approach. The paper’s results should also be considered as a means

for the development of teacher absenteeism interventions in Trinidad.


53

CHAPTER 6

CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY DECISIONS

The study addresses the research question; the absence of secondary school

teachers in the public sector can be largely predicted by background variables and

prior absence behaviour. Such results contribute to a better understanding of how

background variables impact absenteeism, which can help authorities develop

policies to reduce the negative consequences of such high absenteeism.

The importance for policy making based on the results of this sort of study is

stressed by Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004, 221) who explain that

Management should plan and implement extended prevention techniques, based on those
factors found most conducive to absence behaviour, and directed at those employees or
subgroups of the human force found vulnerable to absenteeism.
One of the subgroups of this human force is those teachers of a younger age. It is

likely that these teachers who are younger in age are not given any special

considerations that the elder teachers enjoy, such as better working conditions.

Such conditions can even reduce health-related problems which may lower the

number of sick leave days taken. Policies can also be directed towards making the

profession more attractive towards the younger group, for example, more

opportunities for promotion. On the other hand, rather than trying to counteract the

nature of most younger teachers as identified in the career development and adult

development models, recruiters can simply “provide accurate information about

career paths and opportunities” within the school (Desimone et al. 2002, 477). That

is, they should design and conduct realistic job previews and avoid violating any

aspect of teachers’ psychological contract (Johns and Saks 2001).

The findings related to school position reveal that selection needs to be

regulated in order to assign teachers to an appropriate post. The post of form


54

teacher may require little or no training, yet the position seems to include enough

extra duties to motivate the worker, thus reducing absence frequency. Greater

training and more intricate selection may be required for the position of deans, as

opposed to that of form teachers, in order to cope with the relatively heavier

workloads. It seems as though many schools are already making full use of the post

of form teacher since these teachers comprised 75 percent of all cases in this study

(see table D6). Instead of assigning this post to every teacher, which may defeat the

purpose of having extra responsibility, other similar positions may be created within

the school in order to help reduce absenteeism. Another approach may be to

employ a job rotation program to “introduce variety” into a teacher’s career

(Desimone et al. 2002, 487). It is very likely that in the teaching profession

employees will become bored after having to repeatedly teach the same subject/s

year after year. Perhaps rotating employees between the positions similar to that of

form teacher, or even allowing them to teach other subjects for which they are

qualified, may provide some stimulation. Such rotation should not only provide

teachers with chances to learn new skills, but may also create greater job

satisfaction (Desimone et al. 2002) which can possibly reduce their absenteeism. It

is important to note that some teachers may in fact “prefer repetitive, unchallenging

work that makes few demands on them” (Johns and Saks 2001, 116). In these

cases job rotation should not be used since it may have the adverse effect of

increasing absenteeism for this group of teachers.

The number of young children in an employee’s family has shown to be

consistently related to absenteeism in past studies, and is likely to gain greater

significance in this study once the sample size is increased. Support for this variable

gaining significance also comes from the recent CCH survey (2006) in which HR

professionals explain that employees are not coming to work because of “family
55

issues and personal needs, more than any other single factor”. In order to reduce

absenteeism due to increased family responsibilities, Vistnes (1997) suggests a

lack of paid sick leave or other penalties for absenteeism. A more appropriate policy

may be to have unpaid sick leave beyond the annual assignment of 14 sick days.

Another policy may be to encourage the development and use of day-care centers,

or even “child-care programs” within schools (Desimone et al. 2002, 647). Research

may be needed to determine whether such centers and programs would be as

successful in Trinidad as in other countries. A final strategy may be to allow

teachers with very young children the privilege of having more flexible teaching

schedules through the use of ‘work-life programs’. Employee assistance plans,

which are one of the more commonly used work-life programs in the United States

(CCH, 2006), may help teachers deal with the stress involved in taking care of very

young children. If possible, these teachers can even have their workloads reduced

at such hectic times in order to lessen the effects of their absenteeism. These

strategies stem from the CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation in Washington D.C.,

Stacey H. Davis, who claims that by allowing employees to take care of home life

and family, a happier and healthier workforce is created.

Inconsistency in the research for gender makes it difficult to determine whether

or not greater significance would be obtained for this variable as the sample size is

increased. If further research where to show that females are clearly more prone to

absence behaviour then the causes of such behaviour should be targeted. While it

may be difficult to develop policies to target the nature of women’s behaviour, such

as taking time off for illnesses or to take care of their sick children, policies can be

created to help those female teachers with similar schedules to their children.

Perhaps creation of a transportation system devised particularly for school children

which can both carry them to school and return them home. If the disparity between
56

male and female teacher absences is being caused by women’s resentment

towards their lower status in the business environment, then this may be an

indication of a deeper problem in society. Gender policy should be geared towards

promoting women’s participation and leadership in decision making in order to give

them a more effective voice (Downer 1997). Additionally, legal reform programs

may be needed to assist in the advancement of women (ibid.). Note that these

policies for gender should not be of priority unless other research can solidify the

indefinite results.

Schools need to recognize that the socialization process for teachers is affected

by cultural differences, and take steps to incorporate these differences into their

orientation programmes (Desimone et al. 2002). For example, the use of existing

employees as role models for new recruits (ibid.). Having role models from one’s

own gender and/or age group can make it easier for new employees to adjust to the

culture of the organization (ibid.). If gender and age stereotypes exist in the school,

diversity may need to be “managed to have a positive impact on work behaviour”

(Johns and Saks 2001, 84; italics in the original). Some strategies highlighted by

Rodgers and Hunter (1991) that can be used to reduce such workplace stereotypes

include, the promotion of teamwork between minority and majority members, proper

and accurate career decision making based on facts as opposed to hearsay, and

the training of people to be aware of stereotypes and to value diversity.

Rosenblatt and Shirom (2004) suggest that a profile of teachers who are more

prone to absence behaviour be drawn up. Such a profile would show that being

younger in age, not holding a form teacher position, and possibly being female and

having young children, leads to proneness to absenteeism. It must also be noted

that marital status, seniority, education, and the position of deans are not part of this

profile. It is not appropriate to recruit teachers based on this profile, but instead it
57

should be used as a basis for further research in understanding the underlying

“psychological and social processes behind the ‘hard’ background variables” (ibid.,

221).

13,909 words / 20,000 word limit


58

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APPENDIX A Permission to Conduct Study

APPENDIX A1 University Letter to the Director of Schools Supervision


66

APPENDIX A2 Approval from the Director of Schools Supervision


67

APPENDIX B
Informed Consent Form Attached to Questionnaire (resized and excluding the
footnote which required participants’ initials)

RESEARCH SUBJECT INFORMED


CONSENT FORM
Prospective Research Subject: Read this consent form carefully and ask as
many questions as you like before you decide whether you want to
participate in this research study. You are free to ask questions at any time
before, during, or after your participation in this research. YOU MUST BE
AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD and a teacher of the school since or before
JANUARY 1ST 2004 to be in this research project.

Project Information

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine

Faculty of Social Sciences

Name of Researcher: Mr. Paul Balwant

Programme: M.Sc. Management Studies

Title of Project: Predicting Teacher Absenteeism by Personal Background


Factors

PURPOSE OF THIS RESEARCH STUDY


You are being asked to participate in a research study designed to
predict the absence frequency of secondary school teachers via
personal background factors.

PROCEDURES
You will be asked to do disclose your full name for the sole purpose
of cross referencing this questionnaire to your attendance records (see
Confidentiality section below). Questions will be asked about
personal characteristics and occupational characteristics. Personal
68

characteristics include gender, age, offspring, marital status and


education. Occupational characteristics include job position,
seniority, number of employing schools, teaching loads and work
hours.

TIME REQUIRED
12 minutes.

POSSIBLE BENEFITS
Although there will be no direct benefit to you for taking part in this
study, the researcher may learn more about which demographic
factors have an impact on the absence frequency of secondary school
teachers in Trinidad.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS
There is no financial compensation for your participation in this
research.

CONFIDENTIALITY
This is a totally independent study and is therefore not associated
with any school authorities. Your identity will be treated as
confidential. Once names on the questionnaires are matched to
attendance records, each name will then be replaced by a random
number on a separate record. This new record will be used in the
study. The results of the study may be published for scientific
purposes but will not give your name or include any identifiable
references to you. After the study is completed and all data has been
transcribed from the questionnaires, these questionnaires will be held
for six months and then destroyed.

ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURE
If, for some reason, you do not wish to disclose your name, your
participation in this research will still be greatly appreciated. Once
you have completed the questionnaire, simply contact the researcher
on the day of the study so that you can check your own attendance
records and give the necessary data to the researcher. This procedure
should not take more than 2 minutes. If you choose this method, then
there is no need to sign this consent form since you will remain
anonymous. However, you can still keep a copy of the consent form
for your own purposes.
69

TERMINATION OF RESEARCH STUDY


Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no
penalty for not participating. You have the right to withdraw from the
study at anytime without consequence.

CONTACT INFORMATION
Whom to contact if you have further questions about the study:
Paul Balwant, #5 Hibiscus Drive Petit Valley, 633-3985/382-7557.

AUTHORIZATION
I have read the procedure described above, and voluntarily agree to
participate in this study. Furthermore, the researcher has permission
to access my attendance records for the years of 2004 and 2005. I
understand that I will receive a copy of this form.

Participant’s Name………………………..

Participant’s Signature………………………..
Date……………………

Researcher’s Signature………………………..

Date………………………..

Please sign both consent forms (unless you choose the alternative
procedure), keeping one for yourself.
70

APPENDIX C
Survey Questionnaire (resized and excluding the footnote which required
participants’ initials)

Teacher Absenteeism
Questionnaire

Full name ……………………………………..……


FIRST LAST

Instructions: There are no right or wrong answers to the questions.


Where options are provided simply tick the appropriate answer. Please
answer every question.

1. Have you held any of the following positions, or a position of similar


status, in the year 2004?

Principal Vice Dean Form I have not held any of


Principal teacher these positions in 2004
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

2. How many secondary schools did you work for in 2004?


…………………..

3. How many years of teaching experience have you? …………………..

4. How many years of formal education (i.e. from the beginning of


secondary school and onwards) do you have up until 2004?
…………………..

The next TWO questions (5 and 6) pertain only to the school/s in which
you teach and should not include personal lessons. Answer either parts
(a) or (b) of question 6.
71

5. What are your current working hours (inclusive of any breaks) at the
school/s in which you teach? Approximately ………….. hours in a
regular school day.

6. Approximately how many school periods in total do you currently teach:


(a) if your school uses the 6-day cycle? ………….. periods for
the 6 days.
(b) if your school uses the 5-day week? ………….. periods
(Monday to Friday).
7. What was your marital status in 2004?

Married Divorced Separated Single Widowed Living with


another
( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

8. What is your gender?

Female Male
( ) ( )
If you are ‘Male’ please skip the next question and move onto question
10.
9. If you were pregnant at any time during the last two years, state
approximately how many days of maternity leave you took and in what
year/s.

…………………..day/s in 2004 and …………………..day/s in 2005

10. What is your age in years? …………………..

11. How many children (offspring) do you have? …………………..

12. If you have children, how many are six years of age or younger?
…………………..

Thank you for your participation in this study.


72

APPENDIX D Teacher Survey Data

TABLE D1

DESCRIPTIVE DATA FOR TEACHERS SURVEYED


(QUANTITATIVE VARIABLES ONLY)

Std.
N Minimum Maximum Mean Deviation
Absenteeism 2005 146 0 35 15.06 7.64
Absenteeism 2004 146 0 38.5 16.37 8.05
Job scope 146 0.5 1.5 0.82 0.10
Teaching load 146 91 957 620.42 127.94
Seniority 146 0 38 13.23 9.46
Education 146 4 43 11.87 4.08
Age 146 22 57 37.23 9.46
Number of children
less than 4 years of 146 0 3 0.39 0.71
age

TABLE D2

DISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS SURVEYED BASED ON MARITAL STATUS

Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Not Married 57 39.0 39.0 39.0
Married 89 61.0 61.0 100.0
Total 146 100.0 100.0

TABLE D3

DISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS SURVEYED BASED ON GENDER

Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Male 53 36.3 36.3 36.3
Female 93 63.7 63.7 100.0
Total 146 100.0 100.0
73

TABLE D4

DISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS SURVEYED BASED ON THE POSITION OF


VICE PRINCIPAL

Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Does Not Hold
144 98.6 98.6 98.6
Position
Holds Position 2 1.4 1.4 100.0
Total 146 100.0 100.0

TABLE D5

DISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS SURVEYED BASED ON THE POSITION OF


DEAN

Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Does Not Hold
121 82.9 82.9 82.9
Position
Holds Position 25 17.1 17.1 100.0
Total 146 100.0 100.0

TABLE D6

DISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS SURVEYED BASED ON THE POSITION OF


FORM TEACHER

Valid Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent Percent
Valid Does Not Hold
36 24.7 24.7 24.7
Position
Holds Position 110 75.3 75.3 100.0
Total 146 100.0 100.0
74

APPENDIX E Rate of Absenteeism in the United States

Rate of Absenteeism from 1995 to 2006

3.5

3
2.9
2.8 2.8
2.7
2.5 2.5
2.4
Rate of Absenteeism

2.3 2.3
2.2
2.1 2.1
2
1.9

1.5

0.5

0
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Year

Source: CCH 2006 Unscheduled Absence Survey


75

APPENDIX F Boxplots for Metric Variables (original form)

APPENDIX F1 Absenteeism for 2004 and 2005

APPENDIX F2 Seniority and Age


76

APPENDIX F3 Education

APPENDIX F4 Job Scope


77

APPENDIX F5 Teaching Load

APPENDIX F6 Number of Young Children


78

APPENDIX G
Probability Plots of Quantitative Variables (transformed variables shown with
histograms and superimposed normal curve)

APPENDIX G1 Absenteeism in 2005

APPENDIX G2 Absenteeism in 2004


79

APPENDIX G3 Seniority

Original Variable

Transformed Variable
80

APPENDIX G4 Education

Original Variable

Transformed Variable
81

APPENDIX G5 Job Scope

Original Variable

Transformed Variable
82

APPENDIX G6 Teaching Load

Original Variable

Transformed Variable
83

APPENDIX G7 Age

Original Variable

Transformed Variable
84

APPENDIX H Scatterplot Matrices for Metric Variables

APPENDIX H1 Transformed Variables


85

APPENDIX H2 Original Variables


86

APPENDIX J Test for Equality of Variances

TABLE J

F-VALUES IN LEVENE’S TEST FOR EQUALITY OF VARIANCES

Variable Form Vice Principal Dean Form Teacher Marital Status Gender
Absenteeism 2005 1.454 2.653 1.281 0.708 2.595
Absenteeism 2004 0.475 0.109 0.251 0.105 0.569
Number of Young
Children 3.871 9.522** 1.432 111.666** 8.567**
Seniority
Original 0.849 0.788 0.022 0.880 2.314
Transformed 1.837 2.390 1.773 0.513 0.082
Education
Original 0.093 13.565** 2.377 1.639 5.740*
Transformed 0.082 4.880* 0.110 1.343 6.295*
Job Scope
Original 0.164 14.794** 11.319** 0.011 1.195
Transformed 0.148 9.848** 6.446* 0.028 0.569
Teaching Load
Original 0.889 5.511* 0.587 0.765 11.015**
Transformed 1.081 2.062 0.001 0.341 4.728*
Age
Original 2.549 0.690 0.203 0.115 0.498
Transformed 3.893 8.831** 3.976* 3.686 0.779

*Significant at .05 significance level.

**Significant at .01 significance level.


87

APPENDIX K Other Regression Analyses

TABLE K1

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005 (ORIGINAL VARIABLES)
2
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2
1 Abs04 0.603*** 0.057 0.636 .493*** .493
2 JobScope -5.316 4.672 -0.067 .536* .044
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.002 0.004 0.036
Seniority04 0.113 0.138 0.140
Education 0.102 0.113 0.055
MaritalStatus 0.967 1.025 0.062
Gender 1.475* 0.985 0.093
Age04 -0.233* 0.138 -0.289
NoOfChildren4 1.035 0.718 0.096
3 VicePrincipal 1.254 3.975 0.019 .540 .004
4 Dean -1.059 1.477 -0.052 .542 .001
5 FormTeacher -3.966*** 1.209 -0.224 .576*** .034

Notes: The symbols for the column headings in this table, as well as in K2 to K5, are
explained in Table 4.2.

* p < 0.15; ** p < 0.05; *** p < 0.01

TABLE K2

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005 (WITH REMOVAL OF PRIOR ABSENTEEISM)
2
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2
1 JobScope -13.578 13.104 -.082 .181*** .181
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.000 0.000 .042
Seniority04 1.792* 1.124 .325
Education 5.534 5.132 .087
MaritalStatus 2.218* 1.378 .142
Gender 3.835*** 1.295 .242
Age04 493.294** 221.430 .453
NoOfChildren4 2.064** 0.935 .191
2 VicePrincipal 1.719 5.306 .026 .187 .006
3 Dean -1.981 1.925 -.098 .187 .000
4 FormTeacher -4.194** 1.602 -.237 .227*** .040

* p < 0.15; ** p < 0.05; *** p < 0.01.


88

TABLE K3

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005 (TRAINING SAMPLE)
2
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2
1 Abs04 0.627** 0.082 .683 .478*** .478
2 JobScope -4.979 17.235 -.027 .515 .038
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.000 0.000 -.025
Seniority04 0.985 1.314 .165
Education 2.422 6.128 .037
MaritalStatus 0.643 1.630 .041
Gender 1.073 1.583 .065
Age04 317.496 248.928 .278
NoOfChildren4 1.022 1.085 .093
3 VicePrincipal 1.138 6.121 .017 .518 .003
4 Dean 0.311 2.205 .016 .526 .007
5 FormTeacher -3.567* 1.840 -.200 .552* .027

* p < 0.10; ** p < 0.01.

TABLE K4

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005 (TEST SAMPLE)
2
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2
1 Abs04 0.574*** 0.093 .576 .510*** .510
2 JobScope -10.347 12.709 -.069 .586 .075
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.000 0.000 .041
Seniority04 1.033 1.212 .203
Education 1.556 5.383 .025
MaritalStatus 1.141 1.440 .073
Gender 2.290* 1.372 .150
Age04 374.953* 249.403 .364
NoOfChildren4 1.298 1.005 .123
3 VicePrincipal 0.474 5.567 .008 .592 .006
4 Dean -3.813* 2.145 -.171 .598 .006
5 FormTeacher -4.464** 1.742 -.256 .639** .042

* p < 0.15; ** p < 0.05; *** p < 0.01.


89

TABLE K5

HIERARCHICAL REGRESSION ANALYSIS SUMMARY PREDICTING ABSENCE


SPELLS IN 2005 (REPLACING NUMBER OF CHILDREN LESS THAN 4 YEARS
OF AGE WITH NUMBER OF CHILDREN)
2
Step Variables B SEB β R jR2
1 Abs04 0.618*** 0.058 .651 .493*** .493
2 JobScope -8.374 9.879 -.050 .529 .036
TeachingLoad
Annual 0.000 0.000 .024
Seniority04 0.849 0.846 .154
Education 3.122 3.860 .049
MaritalStatus 1.969* 1.031 .126
Gender 1.566* 1.008 .099
Age04 353.497** 168.874 .325
NoOfChildren -0.182 0.408 -.032
3 VicePrincipal 0.748 3.979 .011 .532 .004
4 Dean -1.188 1.448 -.059 .533 .001
5 FormTeacher -4.064*** 1.196 -.230 .570*** .037

* p < 0.15; ** p < 0.05; *** p < 0.01.


90

APPENDIX L Independent-Samples T Tests

APPENDIX L1 Number of Young Children (SPSS output)

Group Statistics

Std. Error
NoOfChildren4 N Mean Std. Deviation Mean
Abs05 >= 1 39 18.564 6.7602 1.0825
<1 107 13.785 7.5733 .7321
Abs04 >= 1 39 19.436 6.6096 1.0584
<1 107 15.257 8.2649 .7990

Independent Samples Test

Levene's Test for


Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence
Interval of the
Mean Std. Error Difference
F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed) Difference Difference Lower Upper
Abs05 Equal variances
2.936 .089 3.468 144 .001 4.7791 1.3781 2.0552 7.5029
assumed
Equal variances
3.657 75.084 .000 4.7791 1.3068 2.1758 7.3824
not assumed
Abs04 Equal variances
4.463 .036 2.842 144 .005 4.1789 1.4706 1.2722 7.0856
assumed
Equal variances
3.151 83.888 .002 4.1789 1.3261 1.5417 6.8161
not assumed
91

APPENDIX L2 Gender (SPSS output)

Group Statistics

Std. Error
Gender N Mean Std. Deviation Mean
Abs05 Male 53 12.226 7.9654 1.0941
Female 93 16.677 6.9944 .7253
Abs04 Male 53 13.651 7.9018 1.0854
Female 93 17.925 7.7575 .8044

Independent Samples Test

Levene's Test for


Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence
Interval of the
Mean Std. Error Difference
F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed) Difference Difference Lower Upper
Abs05 Equal variances
2.595 .109 -3.514 144 .001 -4.4510 1.2667 -6.9547 -1.9473
assumed
Equal variances
-3.391 97.139 .001 -4.4510 1.3127 -7.0563 -1.8457
not assumed
Abs04 Equal variances
.569 .452 -3.180 144 .002 -4.2738 1.3441 -6.9306 -1.6170
assumed
Equal variances
-3.163 106.630 .002 -4.2738 1.3510 -6.9521 -1.5955
not assumed
92

APPENDIX M Partial Regression Plots


93

APPENDIX M (continued) Partial Regression Plots


94

APPENDIX M (continued) Partial Regression Plots


95

APPENDIX N Sick Leave Data

APPENDIX N1 Boxplot Comparing Sick Leave for 2004 and 2005


96

APPENDIX N2 Paired Samples T Test for Sick Leave Days Taken in 2004 and 2005 (SPSS output)

Paired Samples Statistics

Std. Error
Mean N Std. Deviation Mean
Pair SL04 8.847 124 5.0607 .4545
1 SL05 7.831 124 4.9060 .4406

Paired Samples Correlations

N Correlation Sig.
Pair 1 SL04 & SL05 124 .521 .000

Paired Samples Test

Paired Differences
99% Confidence
Interval of the
Std. Error Difference
Mean Std. Deviation Mean Lower Upper t df Sig. (2-tailed)
Pair 1 SL04 - SL05 1.0161 4.8790 .4381 -.1302 2.1625 2.319 123 .022
97

APPENDIX P Boxplot and Line Graph for Job Scope and Teaching Load (transformed variables)

APPENDIX P1 Job Scope


98

APPENDIX P2 Teaching Load


99

APPENDIX Q Additional Data for Deans

TABLE Q1

ABSENCE DATA FOR DEANS

Std.
Minimum Maximum Mean Deviation
Absenteeism
0 33.5 14.36 8.621
2004
Absenteeism
1 33 13.12 9.074
2005

TABLE Q2

NUMBER OF DEANS BY AREA

Cumulative
Frequency Percent Percent
Central 6 24 24.0
East 3 12 36.0
South 6 24 60.0
West 10 40 100.0
Total 25 100

APPENDIX Q3 Mean Number of Deans’ Absences by Area