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Issues In Educational Research, Vol 14, 2004
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Emotional intelligence and teaching situations: Development of a new measure

Chris Perry, Ian Ball and Elizabeth Stacey
Faculty of Education, Deakin University
This article reports on the development of a new measure entitled: Reactions to Teaching Situations to indicate levels of emotional intelligence among beginning teachers. This article discusses the concept of emotional intelligence and defends the development of such a measure specifically related to the situations in the teaching environment, an environment where emotional intelligence is considered to influence a teachers' thoughts and actions. The measure was found to have acceptable reliability and a range of individual differences was reported. Gender differences were found where female teachers reported greater likelihood of demonstrating emotional intelligence compared to male teachers. There was partial support for the four branch model of emotional intelligence. The discussion includes some projections for these findings and for the use of this measure with more experienced teachers.


Emotional intelligence, has been defined in a variety of ways. Essentially it is "the competence to identify and express emotions, understand emotions, assimilate emotions into thought, and regulate both positive and negative emotions in the self and others" (Matthews, Zeidner & Roberts, 2002, p.3), and according to Bechara, Tranel & Damasio (2000, p. 211) is "a collection of emotional abilities that constitute a form of intelligence that is different from cognitive intelligence or IQ". As a concept, emotional intelligence has been discussed in the literature as a consequence of the work of Goleman (1998) and writers such as McCall (1998) and Jordan (2000) who have used the concept in terms of its role in more effective leadership in the workplace. Goleman has claimed that emotional intelligence (EQ) "can be as powerful, and at times more powerful, than IQ" (Goleman, 1995, p.34). Although initially basing his work on the conception of emotional intelligence theorised by Salovey & Mayer (1990), Goleman had added components such as zeal and persistence, while others, such as Bar-On (1997) in his study of emotional intelligence, have included more emphasis on psychological well-being.

Pearman (2002) sets out the four basic assumptions about emotional intelligence favoured by writers such as Goleman (1998) and McCall (1998). These can be summarised as follows:

The nature of the varying views about the concept and attempts to measure it, led Caruso, Mayer & Salovey (2002) to develop an ability model of emotional intelligence which asserts that a person's skill in recognising emotional information and carrying out abstract reasoning using the emotional information can be measured. Mayer & Salovey (1997) outline that emotional intelligence involves the "abilities to perceive, appraise and express emotion; to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; to understand emotion and emotional knowledge, and to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth" (p.10).

The definition sets out four different abilities or skills, which Mayer & Salovey refer to as branches. Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey (1999) and Roberts, Zeidner, & Matthews (2001) have provided empirical support for the four-branch model, employing the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS).

Caruso, Mayer & Salovey (2002) have provided evidence of the discriminant validity of their emotional intelligence construct (based on the four branch model), establishing its separation from measures of career interests, personality and social behaviour. They assert that "emotional intelligence should be viewed as broadening our understanding of human mental abilities" (p. 318).

Caruso, Mayer & Salovey (2002) discuss the four branches in the following way:

The first branch of the ability model is Identifying Emotions. It includes skills such as the ability to identify feelings, express emotions accurately and differentiate between real and phony emotional expressions.

The second branch, Emotional Facilitation of Thought (Using Emotions), includes skills such as the ability to use emotions to redirect attention to important events; to generate emotions that facilitate decision making; to use mood swings as a means to consider multiple points of view, and to harness different emotions to encourage different approaches to problem solving.

The third branch, Understanding Emotions, is the ability to understand complex, emotions and emotional "chains", how emotions transition from one stage to another, the ability to recognise the causes of emotions, and the ability to understand relations among emotions.

The fourth branch of the ability model is Managing Emotions. This includes the ability to stay aware of one's emotions, even those that are unpleasant; the ability to determine whether an emotion is clear or typical; and the ability to solve emotion-laden problems without necessarily suppressing negative emotions. ( p. 307).

Lawrence (1998) notes that the concept of emotional intelligence has aroused a lot of interest among education theorists and practitioners. Some of this interest has come from the challenges made to the conventional cognitive theory of intelligence. For example, Gardner (1993, 2000) in expounding a theory of multiple intelligences includes personal intelligences - intra (self) and inter (people) intelligence. These intelligences may share some common variance with emotional intelligence. Interest has also come from perspectives on personality. Lawrence (1998) for example, asserts that neither Goleman nor Mayer & Salovey take psychological type into account in their views of emotional intelligence. He sets out to enrich the models and draws attention to the two ways of making rational judgments in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (see Myers, McCaulley, Quenk & Hammer 1998). These ways are thinking and feeling. Lawrence indicates that Jung (1971) had to distinguish between emotion and feeling, between emotional response and feeling judgment. In this view coming to a conclusion by means of a feeling judgeme nt, a rational process, is very different from coming to a conclusion by means of an emotional reaction. To Lawrence, experiencing an emotion involves no reasoning, but a person making a rational judgement (either through thinking or feeling criteria) can and should use emotional experience to inform and help the rational process.

Jordan (2000) notes that emotions are present within aspects of organisational life and "should be raised to a surface of awareness" (p. 2). Emotions should also be controlled to "ensure that working relationships are maintained" (p. 2). Thus an understanding of the construct of emotional intelligence gives us the capability to better understand personal interactions in work settings. Whilst Jordan's focus is on the business workplace, equal focus can be made on the school as a workplace and on the interactions between teachers and students and teachers and their colleagues. As Boyatzis, Goleman & Rhee (2000) conclude there is a need for more research "to understand how our emotions and capabilities affect our lives and work" (p. 359). Such understanding can only prepare more effective teachers in a profession that relies on the ability to establish good relationships with others.

As already noted, interest in emotional intelligence has begun to emerge in the field of education. Change in current educational paradigms has encouraged a focus beyond that of the gaining of content knowledge and facts to now include learning as the core business of schools, the 'glue' of schools. Although even as far back as Dewey (1933), this intent was evident.

When the teacher fixes his [sic] attention exclusively on such matters as these (the acquisition of skills and knowledge), the process of forming underlying and permanent habits, attitudes and interests are overlooked. Yet the formation of the latter is more important for the future. (p.58).
Programs that educate students in social and emotional learning are becoming more widespread (Graczyk, Weissberg, Payton, Elias, Greenberg & Zins, 2000; Matthews et al, 2002) as the importance of engaging student interest and retaining students at school is shown to rely more and more on their ability to fit in with their peers and teachers. The capability to teach such programs requires teachers who understand their own emotional responses and have strategies to cope with these.

Ritchhart (nd) asserts that emotions can shape, and as well, can inhibit, our thinking. As such emotions provide our first interpretation of a new situation and can then influence how we think about and react to, that situation (Goleman, 1995).

As educators, this study grows from our interest in individual differences, and while we might focus on that aspect in regard to how all people are alike; how some people are alike; or how all people are unique (Revelle, 1995), in regard to emotional intelligence it is the second of these aspects that is the focus in this study. We are concerned primarily with emotional intelligence as " a quantitative spectrum of individual differences . Such that people can be rank ordered in terms of how much emotional intelligence they possess" (Matthews et al, 2002, p.22).

Objectives of the study

The study described here has two objectives. First, to find a usable measure of emotional intelligence that relates directly to the work of teachers in schools and second, to see what information that measure can give us about the levels of emotional intelligence held by teachers at the beginning of their career. This early career data will allow us to move in two directions. First, to use the measure later to see changes (if they exist) in emotional intelligence over time in a teacher's career and second, to use this information to assist beginning and later career teachers to develop programs and strategies to enhance their responses and reactions to the "emotional geographies" of teaching and learning (Hargreaves, 2002).

One may ask why another measure of emotional intelligence is needed and whether the existing measures are sufficient. We believe that situational factors can play a significant role in cognition and behaviour. The available measures seem to reflect generalised "trait" factors rather than "state" factors which vary across situations. Also it appears that the more generalised the measure the less likely it may be have relevance for particular groups. Therefore the present measure was planned to refer to aspects of teaching normally experienced by teachers and in the context of particular situations where emotional intelligence might be presumed to operate.


The cohort of 357 students undertaking the second year of a four year teacher education course were invited to volunteer to participate in the research under ethical guidelines published by the University. All volunteered to participate. These students had completed 20 days of teaching experience in schools and had opportunities to observe teachers and students across a range of learning environments. Students were enrolled in programs focussed at future teaching in primary, secondary or mixed primary/secondary schools. Categorical information was collected on gender, faculty, age group, and teaching focus. Participants were subsequently presented with the results for the group and the concept of emotional intelligence and how it might be applied in teaching situations were further discussed. The size of the group and its diversity of teaching specialisations gave some confidence to the stability of the results.


Drawing on the four-branch model of emotional intelligence as a framework, a series of ten teaching situations were presented. Each situation provided a choice of six possible reactions. Participants were asked to consider how they would feel and think in each of these situations. Each of the items was rated as to the likelihood of that particular reaction being made, ie rating how you would typically deal with these particular emotional aspects of teaching. The ratings were made on a five point Likert scale labelled: "Never likely, seldom likely, sometimes likely, usually likely, always likely". For a more open ended response, after each situation respondents were asked to complete the sentence : "It is most likely that I would feel .... and then I would ....."

The six alternative reaction responses were developed as follows:

The situations written for the measure were typical of those that could be expected as part of the practice of teaching and three independent judges agreed that they were reasonably common situations likely to be experienced by teachers involving learners, authority figures, other staff and parents. The situations varied in emotional character: from those that could be threatening to a person's feelings of self worth, to those validating the professionality of the individual.

The situations were presented in a random order and were described as follows:

  1. One of your students, whose learning is generally slow and erratic, has just made a breakthrough and has acquired a concept you have been teaching for some time.

  2. A parent has lodged a formal complaint about your teaching methods which you feel is totally unjustified and blown out of all proportion. Moreover you are unsure about how "just" the Principal will be in handling this issue.

  3. Your students are actively involved in their group work, but you sense that a few are taking advantage of you, and becoming noisy and unproductive.

  4. Your level coordinator calls you in and says:" Your student assessments have been too generous, and you need to do them all again".

  5. A student, who has the reputation of being difficult to handle, loses it totally o n an excursion where you are in charge, and puts on a temper tantrum.

  6. A student, who has recently made a special effort with a piece of work, says: "You are the best teacher I've ever had".

  7. Your initial ideas have been highly valued and adopted in practice by your teaching team.

  8. You find that you were not included in a staff group invitation to go for drinks after school.

  9. While on yard duty you hear one students making a negative comment about a student from a racial group to which you also belong.

  10. In your most recent performance review, your team leader gives you very positive feedback and states your performance has exceeded expectation.

The cohort's responses to the Reactions to Teaching Situations measure

Item responses were coded and analysed by the Statistical Program for the Social Sciences (SPSS). List wise deletions for non-responses were made from the total of 357 persons. An emotional intelligence score and four branch scores were calculated following an examination of scale reliabilities for 317 persons. Three items, which had low negative correlations with other items, were removed in the calculation of the total emotional intelligence score. These items did not appear to be related to the others in a meaningful way. This produced a total scale of thirty-seven items with an alpha reliability of 0.82, and standardised item alpha of 0.84. Hotelling's T-squared result was statistically significant, registering a probability p< .0000 (F: 96.43 with degrees of freedom 36 and 281). The reliability appears to be more than satisfactory for a scale of this nature.

The mean score was 136.78 with a standard deviation of 11.74, a range from the lowest score of 101 to the highest score of 168. Skewness was calculated as -.11 and kurtosis was -.01.

The distribution is shown in Figure 1 and demonstrates the wide range of individual differences in total emotional intelligence scores.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Distribution of total Emotional Intelligence scores

The total emotional intelligence scale has very substantial correlations with the four branch components ranging from 0.72 to 0.82. All correlations are statistically different from zero. The Understanding Emotions branch score has the highest relationship with the total scale, whilst Using Emotions has the lowest of the set.

The alpha reliabilities of the four branch scores were calculated as follows: Identifying Emotions (10 items) 0.56, Using Emotions (9 items) 0.57, Understanding Emotions (10 items) 0.61, and Managing Emotions (9 items) 0.57. These appear to satisfactory reliabilities for an exploratory study.

Table 1 shows that each of the four branch scores inter-correlate significantly with each other, but the correlation between Using Emotions and Identifying Emotions is the lowest of the set. Other branch inter-correlations are at similar levels explaining about 25% of the variance in one by taking the other into consideration.

Table 1: Inter-correlations between the four branch emotional intelligence scores

Emotional intelligenceIdentifyingUsingUnderstandingManaging
(*** p<.001)

The relative values of the mean scores for the four branch scores is depicted in Figure 2, and it is clear that managing emotions and using emotions have higher mean likelihood scores than the other scales.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Comparison of mean scores on the four branch emotional intelligence scores

To examine relationships with demographic values, splits were made at the 20th, 40th, 60th and 80th percentiles of the total emotional intelligence scale to produce a five point emotional intelligence index scale. Chi-squares of total index score were computed with each of the categorical variables. Of these comparisons, only the relationship between the emotional intelligence index and gender was statistically significant. The chi-square result for index/gender was 31.49, 4 df, p<.000. Inspection showed that the highest proportion of males had level 1 on the index score compared with females, where the highest proportion was at level 4 scores.

The chi-squares for index/faculty, index/age group and index/teaching focus were all not statistically significant.

Exploratory factor analysis

An exploratory factor analysis of the 37 items in the total emotional intelligence scale was conducted to examine the factorial composition.

A principal components analysis produced 11 factors with eigen values greater than one, but the scree test suggested that only four of these should be rotated to obtain a simple structure. The four factors rotated to a varimax solution accounted for 33.56% of total variance. Only one item, out of the 37, had loadings greater than .30 on more than one factor (item 4.6). These were on Factors 3 and 4.

In this discussion items are coded to relate to the hypothesised four branches, as follows : Identifying Emotions (ID), Using Emotions (US), Understanding Emotions (UN) and Managing Emotions (MA).

Factor 1 (eigen value 6.21, 16.77% of variance) had nine items with loadings greater than 0.50 and had no significant loadings on any other factor. The items were associated largely with three situations where positive emotions were expressed. The items come from a mix of all four branches, and are interpreted as a factor expressing general satisfaction responses.

10.2I would realise that being recognised is often linked with feelings of satisfactionUS 0.68
10.4I would feel reassured that the effort I had put in had paid offUS 0.66
10.5I would be pleased and realise that such valuing can lead to growing as a personMA 0.65
7.2I would be happy that they understood my contributionID 0.64
7.3I would be proud and want to use this in my performance reviewMA 0.64
6.3I would feel acknowledgedID 0.63
7.1I would know that my pleasure is often linked to feedback from othersUN 0.57
6.1I would enjoy a feeling of pride and know that it would help me through
difficult classroom situations in the future
MA 0.56
10.3I would not be afraid to show my feelings of joyID 0.54

Factor 2 (eigen value 2.71, 7.33% of variance) had four items loading greater than 0.50, three of which were from the identifying emotions branch. All items express negative feelings likely to be threatening to self worth.

2.5I would be feeling insecure in this situationID 0.71
2.6I would remember that things like this tend to upset meUN 0.70
3.3I would feel trapped in such a situatio nID 0.67
8.3I would feel upset that I had not been includedID 0.54

Factor 3 (eigen value 1.95, 5.26% of variance) had five factors loading greater than 0.40 and consisted of items from the Understanding Emotions branch. They tend to link emotion to behaviour.

5.4I would consider that any emotion I feel will soon passUN 0.64
6.6I would know that my reaction to this comment is linked to my knowledge of learnersUN 0.57
3.1I would realise that my feelings will affect what I do nextUN 0.42
1.4I would consider my feelings reflected the part I played in thisUN 0.41
4.6I would remember that my initial reaction may soon change into another feelingUN 0.40

Factor 4 eigen value 1.56, 4.22% of variance) had five items loading greater than 0.40 and three of these were from the Using Emotions branch.

6.4I would say that they did well because of their effort not mineUS 0.65
8.6I would feel hurt but would make more of an effort to join the social interaction in the staffroomMA 0.55
4.3I would focus on the co-ordinator's concerns to see if there was any justification in the commentUS 0.53
4.6I would remember that my initial reaction may soon change into another feelingUN 0.45
8.5I would remember my hurt response and include all the staff in my next Christmas functionUS 0.40

As previously noted only one item had loadings in excess of 0.30 on two factors, all other items only had loadings in excess of 0.30 on a single factor.

This four factor solution provides partial support for the separation of the four branches, as three factors seemed to be aligned with each of three of the four branches. The other factor comprised a mixture of branches. The solution also suggests that the potency of the situation and its underlying dynamics may play an important part in any reaction.

Readers interested in a copy of the full analysis and the scree plot (not reproduced here for space reasons) are invited to contact the second author.


The analyses presented above strongly suggest that this development of a new measure has been successful. The reliability estimate is acceptable and compares favourably with other measures, although while the work on Bar-On's EQ-I reports higher reliability, it must be remembered that that instrument has many more items. Our measure is of a different character than most self report scales and the fact that there is a high internal consistency suggests that a concept such as emotional intelligence, which can affect thinking and action across a variety of teaching situations, can be reliably measured.

The results presented here from the factorial structure of the new measure only provided partial support for the four branch model. The factor analysis did not produce a clear representation of the expected theoretical four branch model. Indeed the result confirms other research that the four branches often tend to collapse into three structures e.g. Matthews, Zeidner & Roberts (2002) reported that there is "only limited empirical support for a four branch model" (p. 192), and report data which suggests only three interpretable factors are found: emotional identification, emotion understanding and emotion management.

The gender difference found in the present study was strong and significant, and suggests that any research with this measure should take that difference into account. A search of the literature in this field supports the criticism by Matthews, Zeidner & Roberts, (2002 p.200) that opportunities to report on gender differences have been neglected. In fact the only reference found was in a study of the Schutte Self Report Inventory undertaken by Petrides & Furnham (2000). Those researchers reported a gender difference in females having higher social skills scores than males, but that there was no overall difference in total emotional intelligence scores on that inventory. This study was conducted in a faculty of education in an Australian university. An application of this measure with beginning teachers in a different cultural context could test the reliability of the findings related to gender differences.

The gender differential sensitivity to emotional intelligence reactions found in this study, should be followed up. If the current findings are taken into account, many male beginning teachers probably need coaching and deeper understanding about the emotional management of teaching situations, as do some female teachers. It maybe that pre-service teacher education courses should deal more explicitly with the concept of emotional intelligence and its development, and management in common teaching situations.

Exploring the concept of emotional intelligence is directly related to the understanding of teaching, motivation and self directed learning. The information that can be drawn from this study should help the debate about emotional intelligence to move from the broad and generalised to the more specific and productive. Situations involving emotional states are a familiar aspect of any school or classroom environment. For the classroom practitioner, understanding the impact that their own emotions and those of others have on the effectiveness of the teaching-learning context is important. Being able read the emotions of others is a key component of understanding students as individuals. This understanding is a key component of any process of self regulation.

Further and specific information about emotional intelligence should help the development of future intervention programs or emotion based curricular activities or support those already present in education.

This study suggests that further research is warranted with both pre-service and practising teachers. Following this study, it would be appropriate to survey more experienced teachers in order to assess whether levels of emotional intelligence are different between the two groups. This would give information about whether the experience of teaching also gives greater depth of experience in understanding and managing the emotional aspects of teaching and learning.

In addition, and as noted earlier in this report, further study is warranted in convergent and discriminant validity by exploring concepts related to emotional intelligence as defined here. It is relevant to ask what relation emotional intelligence has to the existing constructs of the several multiple intelligences proposed by Gardner (2000), and to the perception and decision making preferences in measures of psychological type indicated by Myers et al (1998), and whether the new measure bears any systematic relations to these widely used constructs.


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Authors: Dr Chris Perry is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education. She combines school based consultancies with lecturing and research in the area of individual's growth and development especially as it relates to the development of thinking and learning. A special focus of her research and consultancy is on the development of learning style and learners' problem-solving strategies. Email: perryac@deakin.edu.au

Mr Ian Ball is currently a Faculty Fellow at Deakin University, and manages the Psychological Type Research Unit. Since retirement as an Associate Professor, he has been involved in conducting school reviews and contributing to a range of consultancies for education authorities. Email: gmagpa@bigpond.net.au

Dr Elizabeth Stacey teaches and researches in the Faculty of Education at Deakin University particularly focussing on educational psychology as well as the use of computers and communication technologies in the curriculum.

Please cite as: Perry, C., Ball, I. & Stacey, E. (2004). Emotional intelligence and teaching situations: Development of a new measure. Issues In Educational Research, 14(1), 29-43. http://www.iier.org.au/iier14/perry.html

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