Chinese and British university teachers' emotional reactions to students' disruptive classroom behaviors

Xinyuan Xu*, Rob Klassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As globalisation increases, more teachers are teaching abroad. New teaching contexts present challenges to international teachers’ mental health. According to appraisal theory, the elicitation of an emotion is an interplay between situational (context) and dispositional (beliefs) antecedents, and people’s built-in dispositions are socially constructed and culturally shaped. Based on this premise, it can be assumed that, compared with local teachers, international teachers may experience different types or intensities of emotions due to their different beliefs and goals when they confront the same disruptive behaviours by students in the classroom. The aim of this research is to investigate Chinese teachers’ and British teachers’ emotional experiences while working in universities in the UK through a mixed methods study. The methodology that is employed in the present research is a pragmatic approach. A sequential mixed-methods design was used to examine the assumptions and discover possible explanations for the phenomenon. Study One investigated 99 participants (47 Chinese teachers and 52 British teachers) through a novel video-based survey and found that university teachers who were originally from China experienced a significantly higher level of anxiety and shame than teachers who were originally from Britain. The results show that in a new cultural context, international teachers can experience higher-level negative emotions in comparison with indigenous teachers. Study Two used semi-structured interviews to examine what factors could result in the differences discovered by Study One. The results indicated that the appraisal dimension of accountability and self-construals, shaped by cultural values, were the key factors influencing teachers’ emotional experiences. Overall, the research findings have implications for supporting international teachers’ emotional acculturation and the sustainable development of both policymakers and practitioners in foreign teaching contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11798
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023

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