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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

2007

Faculty of Social Sciences

St. Augustine Campus

iii

ABSTRACT

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.

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.

variables; Rosenblatt and Shirom.

iv

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

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

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

Personal Characteristics 7

Occupational Characteristics 11

Significance of Study 13

3. METHODOLOGY 15

Measures 19

Absence Frequency 19

Gender 20

Educational Attainment 20

CONTENTS

Chapter

School Position 21

Salary 21

Control Variables 21

Excluded Data 23

Identification of Outliers 24

4. RESULTS 32

Correlational Analyses 32

Assessing Multicollinearity 39

5. DISCUSSION 44

References 58

CONTENTS

APPENDICES

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

ILLUSTRATIONS

Figures

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

Tables

Variables

in 2005 34

1

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

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

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

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

absenteeism levels.

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

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

2

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

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

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

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

3

CHAPTER 2

LITERATURE REVIEW

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

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

Costs of Absenteeism

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

4

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

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

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

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

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

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

that the overall performance of a school including its administrative dimensions may

5

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

phenomenon being studied” one can use them to explain the phenomenon (ibid.,

6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

absences from the first school year investigated to the next” (Cohen and Cohen

7

1983, 211). Hereafter, the frequency of absenteeism implies this residual change

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

Personal Characteristics

Gender

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

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.

8

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

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

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

Age

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”

9

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

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

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

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.

Education

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

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

involvement in their jobs” (Mohammed and Ignace 1992, 618). According to Baba

10

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Occupational Characteristics

Seniority

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

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

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

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

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

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,

13

frequency.

Salary

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

(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

14

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

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

15

CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

(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

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.

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,

(3.4) N ≥ 104 + m

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

Formula 3.5.

(3.5) N ≥ 104 + 12

N ≥ 116

(3.6) N ≥ 50 + (8 · m)

(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

values.

Measures

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

absenteeism for medical reasons are excluded as they represent highly involuntary

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

Absence Frequency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gender

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

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

21

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

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

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

Salary

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

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

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

22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24

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

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

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

(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

Univariate Detection

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

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

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,

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

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

TABLE 3.3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

33

TABLE 4.1

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

34

TABLE 4.2

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.

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 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

predictors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

TABLE 4.3

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

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-

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

46

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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

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

51

others” (Gellatly and Luchak 1998). Other non demographic variables found to be

[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

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

The study is further limited with respect to the two consecutive years being used

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

52

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

53

CHAPTER 6

The study addresses the research question; the absence of secondary school

teachers in the public sector can be largely predicted by background variables and

The importance for policy making based on the results of this sort of study is

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

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

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

(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

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

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

teachers with very young children the privilege of having more flexible teaching

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

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.

which can both carry them to school and return them home. If the disparity between

56

towards their lower status in the business environment, then this may be an

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,

(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

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

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

“psychological and social processes behind the ‘hard’ background variables” (ibid.,

221).

58

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66

67

APPENDIX B

Informed Consent Form Attached to Questionnaire (resized and excluding the

footnote which required participants’ initials)

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

Factors

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

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

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

FIRST LAST

Where options are provided simply tick the appropriate answer. Please

answer every question.

status, in the year 2004?

Principal teacher these positions in 2004

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

…………………..

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.

(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?

another

( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )

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.

12. If you have children, how many are six years of age or younger?

…………………..

72

TABLE D1

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

75

76

APPENDIX F3 Education

77

78

APPENDIX G

Probability Plots of Quantitative Variables (transformed variables shown with

histograms and superimposed normal curve)

79

APPENDIX G3 Seniority

Original Variable

Transformed Variable

80

APPENDIX G4 Education

Original Variable

Transformed Variable

81

Original Variable

Transformed Variable

82

Original Variable

Transformed Variable

83

APPENDIX G7 Age

Original Variable

Transformed Variable

84

85

86

TABLE J

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

87

TABLE K1

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.

TABLE K2

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

88

TABLE K3

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

TABLE K4

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

89

TABLE K5

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

90

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

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

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

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

93

94

95

96

APPENDIX N2 Paired Samples T Test for Sick Leave Days Taken in 2004 and 2005 (SPSS output)

Std. Error

Mean N Std. Deviation Mean

Pair SL04 8.847 124 5.0607 .4545

1 SL05 7.831 124 4.9060 .4406

N Correlation Sig.

Pair 1 SL04 & SL05 124 .521 .000

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)

98

99

TABLE Q1

Std.

Minimum Maximum Mean Deviation

Absenteeism

0 33.5 14.36 8.621

2004

Absenteeism

1 33 13.12 9.074

2005

TABLE Q2

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

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