The Effect of Cultural Intelligence on Teachers’ Anxiety

Introduction: Modern teachers are called to fully meet the special needs of the culturally heterogeneous pu- pils’ population and due to this fact suffer from increased anxiety levels during their teaching work. Teachers’ cultural intelligence contributes to their effective adaptability into the cultural diversity environment, reducing simultaneously their anxiety and improving their socio-mental health.

Aim: To investigate the effect of cultural intelligence and other socio-demographic and professional variables on teachers’ anxiety.

Material and Method: Cross-sectional study of 532 primary and secondary school teachers. Data collection was conducted through the Greek versions of the following structured, self-completion questionnaires: a) The Cultural Intelligence Scale (CQS), and b) The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) for assessing the teachers’ cultural intelligence and anxiety, respectively. Statistical analysis was performed with the IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), version 21.0, using the following methods: t-test, Pearson’s correlation coefficient, Spearman’s correlation coefficient and backward stepwise linear regression. The p-value of ≤0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

Results: Multivariate analysis showed that teachers with high cultural intelligence had significantly lower trait (p<0.001 for the metacognitive & p=0.033 for the motivational dimension) and state (p=0.03 for the cognitive & p=0.002 for the motivational dimension) anxiety levels. Additionally, teachers without children (p=0.029), coming from a rural area (p=0.01), without living abroad (p=0.009), having no foreign languages knowledge (p=0.009), with- out attending of university courses on cultural diversity (p=0.004), with shorter experience on their current job (p<0.001) and with higher experience in a school environment (p=0.001) characterized by cultural diversity had significantly higher state anxiety levels. On the other hand, parameters such as younger age (p=0.03), teaching in multicultural schools (p<0.001) and the absence of attending courses on cultural diversity during teachers’ uni- versity education (p<0.001) were strong independent predictors of higher trait anxiety levels.

Conclusions: The increased teachers’ cultural intelligence seems to protect them from increased anxiety levels during their work. Specific actions and policies that aims to educate and sensitize teachers on cultural diversity could contribute to both their cultural intelligence improvement and their anxiety reduction, making them more teaching competent. Further research with larger sample size, interventions and qualitative approach is needed.