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Journal of Education for Teaching

International research and pedagogy

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Assessment of emotional intelligence in a sample

of prospective Secondary Education Teachers

Margarita Gutiérrez-Moret, Raquel Ibáñez-Martinez, Remedios Aguilar-Moya

& Antonio Vidal-Infer

To cite this article: Margarita Gutiérrez-Moret, Raquel Ibáñez-Martinez, Remedios Aguilar-Moya

& Antonio Vidal-Infer (2016) Assessment of emotional intelligence in a sample of prospective
Secondary Education Teachers, Journal of Education for Teaching, 42:2, 123-134, DOI:

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Published online: 10 Feb 2016.

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Journal of Education for Teaching, 2016
VOL. 42, NO. 2, 123134

Assessment of emotional intelligence in a sample of

prospective Secondary Education Teachers
Margarita Gutiérrez-Moreta, Raquel Ibáñez-Martineza, Remedios Aguilar-Moyaa and
Antonio Vidal-Inferb 
School of Psychology and Sciences of Education, Catholic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain; bDepartment
of History of Science and Information Science, School of Medicine, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain


In the past few years, skills related to emotional intelligence (EI) have Received 19 October 2015
acquired special relevance in the educational domain. This study Accepted 5 January 2016
assesses EI in a sample of 155 students of 5 different specialities of KEYWORDS
a Master’s degree in Teacher Training for Secondary Education. Data Emotional intelligence;
collection was conducted through the administration of the Trait Secondary Education;
Meta Mood Scale-24 (TMMS-24) and the Mayer, Salovey & Caruso MSCEIT; TMMS-24
Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Results show adequate levels
of EI, especially in the strategic area, as well as some speciality-based
differences among students. There is a need to develop specific
training geared towards the development of emotional skills in the
Master’s in Secondary Education capacitation programmes according
to the trainee’s background.

The teaching profession is recognised as being one with the highest levels of performance-re-
lated stress (Castillo, Fernández-Berrocal, and Brackett 2013; Noriah et al. 2007). Group man-
agement, the generation of expectations and continuous exposure cause the teacher to be
constantly questioned (Mohd Izham et al. 2010), eventually resulting in various psychological
disorders (Brackett et al. 2010; Noriah et al.2007), especially the burnout syndrome (Chang
In recent years, there has been a substantial change in the educational systems, focusing
on the skills that go beyond the purely cognitive aspects, i.e. the attitude about work and
others, the quality of relationships, flexibility and adaptability, empathy, creativity and com-
munication (Karim and Weisz 2011; Maizatul and Mohd 2013; Palomera, Fernandez-Berrocal,
and Brackett 2008; UNESCO 2014). Hence, the study of emotional intelligence (EI) in the
teaching profession has become a topic of interest in educational research in the recent
past (Castillo, Fernández-Berrocal, and Brackett 2013).
EI is defined as an ability and was conceived of as a counterpart to cognitive intelligence.
Prominent in the scientific community is the definition in the Mental Ability Model proposed

CONTACT  Antonio Vidal-Infer

© 2016 Taylor & Francis
124    M. Gutiérrez-Moret et al.

by Mayer and Salovey (Geher 2004; Matthews, Zeidner, and Roberts 2003) that ‘EI is the ability
to perceive accurately, appraise and express emotion, the ability to access and/or generate
feelings when they facilitate thought, the ability to understand emotion and emotional
knowledge and ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth’
(Mayer and Salovey 1997).
Scientific literature empirically demonstrates the potential of the application of emotional
competence in the binomial ‘teacher-student’. With respect to teachers, EI plays an important
role in the development of teaching (Castillo, Fernández-Berrocal, and Brackett 2013; Yin
et al. 2013). It has a proven impact on work efficiency, behaviour and motivation (Low and
Nelson 2006; Zembylas 2004).
Furthermore, it facilitates less wear and greater satisfaction at work resulting in a more
positive effect between the teacher and the student (Brackett et al. 2010; Naderi Anari 2012;
Wong, Wong, and Peng 2010) associated with the use of student-centred teaching methods
(Trigwell 2012) and feelings of greater job satisfaction and, therefore, a reduction in stress,
minimising the occurrence of the burnout syndrome (Naderi Anari 2012; Wong, Wong, and
Peng 2010). With respect to students, the development of EI correlates positively with aca-
demic achievement (Arnold 2005; Hayashi and Ewert 2006; Hogan et al. 2010) because,
among other reasons, it allows the development of an effective, motivating and productive
learning environment (Durlak et al. 2011; Jennings and Greenberg 2008; Rimm-Kaufman et
al. 2007; Sutton and Wheatley 2003).
However, despite the findings regarding the importance of EI and the development of
the competence of teachers in perceiving and regulating their emotions in the field of edu-
cation (Pérez-Escoda et al. 2013), there are few studies on the use of EI in the educational
setting (Corcoran and Tormey 2010, 2012a), and there is no agreement regarding the results.
Pugh (2008) found that Higher Education programmes in Sciences of Education including
EI training improve the EI scores of prospective teachers. Nevertheless, other studies found
underscored emotional skills of teachers at levels similar to the normative sample (Byron
2001; Corcoran and Tormey 2012b; Karim and Weisz 2011) and even below, as seen in the
study by Brackett et al. (2010). In addition, a study by Corcoran and Tormey (2010) found
that the overall score in reference to the EI of a sample of Irish teachers provided evidence
that some scores were below the accepted average.
Therefore, considering the scarce literature on the levels of EI among teachers and emo-
tional work, this study has the objective of evaluating the EI of the student in the process of
training for teaching in secondary schools (see Figure 1).

Methodology and methods

For the present study, students were selected who were on an official Master’s degree for
Teachers of Secondary Education at the Catholic University San Vicente Mártir in Valencia.
This postgraduate training programme comprises nine specialities corresponding to
five areas: social and legal sciences, arts and humanities, engineering and architecture,
sciences and health sciences. One speciality area was chosen and, considering the total
enrolment in the speciality (363), multistage stratified sampling was carried out with
a sampling error of 5%, with 155 students out of a total of 287 eventually interviewed
(Table 1).
Journal of Education for Teaching   125

Figure 1. MSCEIT areas, branches and tasks (adapted from Fox et al. 2010).

The resulting sample consisted of 96 men (61.9%) and 59 women (38.1%) with an aver-
age age of 26.98 years (dt: 5.483; max: 56; min; 22). 76.6% of respondents were single and
without a partner.
Participants took the test in a session with a duration of one hour between the months of
April and May 2014 in the same classroom where teaching took place. Self-administration of
the instruments was supervised by a psychologist and two pedagogues and followed this
order: brief demographic questionnaire, TMMS-24 and MSCEIT. At all times, participants were
informed of the purpose of the study and the voluntary nature of participation in it, whilst
also ensuring the anonymity and confidentiality of the data.

Two of the main instruments were selected to assess EI: a self-report questionnaire (TMMS-
24) and a skills performance test (MSCEIT), both based on the EI model of Mayer and Salovey

Table 1. Sample distribution.

Area Speciality Sample
Social and legal sciences Educational guidance 11
Arts and humanities English 21
Engineering and architecture Technology 25*
Sciences Biology and geology 16
Health sciences Physical activity and sport sciences 82
*During data collection, 11 dropouts were registered in the Technology speciality.
126    M. Gutiérrez-Moret et al.

Table 2. Measuring scales on the TMMS-24.

    Men Women  
Attention to feelings Poor <21 <24
  Adequate 22 to 32 25 to 35
  Excessive <33 <36
Emotional clarity Poor <25 <23
  Adequate 26 to 35 24 to 34
  Excellent >36 >35
Repair of emotions Poor <23 <23
  Adequate 24 to 35 24 to 34
  Excellent >36 >35

Source: Fernandez-Berrocal, Extremera, and Ramos 2004.

Table 3. Scores on the MSCEIT.

Score Qualitative correction
<70 He/she needs improvement
70–89 He/she can improve
90–110 Competent
111–130 Highly competent
>130 Expert
Source: Extremera and Fernández-Berrocal 2009.

(1997). These two instruments combined show a better predictive validity (Pena and Repetto
The TMMS-24 Trait Meta Mood Scale-24 (Fernandez-Berrocal, Extremera, and Ramos
2004) is an adaptation of the TMMS-48 developed by Mayer and Salovey in 1990. The
scale is made up of 24 items grouped in 3 dimensions: attention to feelings, understood
as the degree to which people believe they pay attention to their emotions and feelings;
emotional clarity or how people think they perceive their emotions and repair of emotions,
defined as the belief of the subject in his or her ability to stop and adjust negative emo-
tional states and prolong the positive ones (Fernández-Berrocal and Extremera 2009). The
test was corrected through the evaluation of the direct scores by means of the measuring
scales shown in Table 2.
The MSCEIT (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test), Mayer, Salovey,
and Caruso (2002) was used in its Spanish adaptation (Extremera and Fernández-Berrocal
2002). The MSCEIT is an instrument based on task skills made up of 141 items that measure
how well people perform tasks and solve emotional problems in eight scenarios. Scores are
divided into two areas (experiential EI and strategic EI) and four branches (perception, use,
understanding and emotional management).
After the classification of direct scores, the correction is described in Table 3.

Data analysis
The data were recorded and analysed with the statistical software package SPSS 19.0. A
descriptive analysis and a comparison of means were carried out using the Student t-test
for independent samples with the variables gender and age (establishing two groups of
Journal of Education for Teaching   127

Table 4. MSCEIT. Global and broken-down scores by area and branch.

Emotional Emotional
  Experien- Strategic Emotional Emotional compre- manage-
  GeneralEI tial EI EI perception facilitation hension ment
Mean 104.69 99.93 109.46 101.21 98.17 108.19 108.68
DT 10.783 11.489 10.939 13.038 9.279 11.514 12.440
Minimum 78 72 79 69 65 81 77
Maximum 131 128 135 135 120 135 135

Table 5. TMMS-24. Scores broken down by areas.

  Perception area Comprehension area Regulation area
Mean 26.5298 27.3725 29.0455
DT 5.22150 5.14127 6.11795
Minimum 16.00 13.00 10.00
Maximum 39.00 39.00 40.00

Table 6. Differences by sex on the MSCEIT and TMMS-24 tests.

T-test for equality of means
95% CI for the
Typ. error of difference
Difference the differ-
  t gl Sig. (bilateral) of means ence Lower Upper
MSCEIT General EI −2.791 140 .006 −5.100 1.827 −8.713 −1.487
Experiential EI area −1.823 140 .070 −3.604 1.977 −7.513 .305
Strategic EI area −2.714 140 .007 −5.038 1.856 −8.709 −1.368
Emotional Perception −1.210 140 .228 −2.734 2.258 −7.199 1.732
Emotional Facilitation −2.337 140 .021 −3.704 1.585 −6.838 −.570
Emotional −.224 140 .823 −.449 2.005 −4.412 3.514
Emotional −4.084 140 .000 −8.363 2.047 −12.411 −4.315
TMMS-24 Attention −1.055 149 .293 −.92441 .87623 −2.65586 .80703
Clarity 1.385 151 .168 1.18312 .85415 −.50450 2.87074
Repair 1.825 152 .070 1.84303 1.00979 −.15201 3.83808

22–24 years and 25 or more) as grouping variables. Then, an analysis of variance was per-

formed to observe the differences in the scores according to the speciality chosen in the
Master’s. Finally, the Tukey test for post hoc contrasts was used.

The average in each of the areas of the MSCEIT showed that the group was among the typ-
ical scores 90–110, so it would be considered an emotionally competent group showing a
predominance of strategic emotional competence (Table 4).
With respect to the TMMS-24 scores, all evaluated branches showed adequate average
scores according to the scales described above in Table 2 (Table 5).
128    M. Gutiérrez-Moret et al.

Table 7. Analysis of variance on MSCEIT and TMMS-24 scores according to speciality.

  Sum of squares gl Quadratic mean F Sig.
MSCEIT General EI 643.959 4 160.990 1.400 .237
Experiential EI area 353.858 4 88.465 .664 .618
Strategic EI area 1206.202 4 301.551 2.637 .037
Emotional Perception branch 317.441 4 79.360 .460 .765
Emotional Facilitation branch 350.502 4 87.625 1.018 .400
Emotional Comprehension branch 509.836 4 127.459 .960 .432
Emotional branch management 2581.433 4 645.358 4.596 .002
TMMS-24 Attention 466.304 4 116.576 4.697 .001
Clarity 165.540 4 41.385 1.590 .180
Repair 46.029 4 11.507 .302 .876

Table 8. Differences between specialities according to the Tukey test.

CI 95%
Dependent (I) Master’s (J) Master’s of means Typical Lower Upper
variable speciality speciality (I-J) error Sig. limit limit
Strategic EI area Physical Educational −10.741 3.434 .018 −20.23 −1.25
Education Guidance
Emotional Physical Educational −14.212 3.805 .003 −24.73 −3.69
management Education Guidance
Attention Technology Biology and −4.69022 1.62175 .035 −9.1698 −.2107
Educational −6.26522 1.88699 .010 −11.4774 −1.0530
English −5.26522 1.52311 .006 −9.4723 −1.0581

With regard to the influence of sex on the MSCEIT scores, the comparison of means
showed significant differences between men and women in general EI (p < .01), EI strategic
area (p < .01), facilitation (p < .05) and emotional management (p < .01). The TMMS-24 scores
showed no difference due to gender. Similarly, both test scores were influenced by the age
group to which respondents belonged (Table 6).
The analysis of variance of test scores on the MSCEIT regarding the speciality of the
Master’s given by interviewees showed significant differences in the area of strategic EI
(p < .05) and the emotional management branch (p < .05). On the TMMS-24, differences
were found in the area of emotional attention (p < .01) (Table 7).
The post hoc contrast using the Tukey test showed significant differences in the area of
strategic EI (p < .05) and emotional management branches (p < .01) among the specialities of
physical education and educational guidance. In the case of the TMMS-24, differences were
found in the area of emotional attention among the specialities of Technology and Biology
and Geology (p < .05), Technology and Educational Guidance (p < .05) and Technology and
English (p < .01) (Table 8).

The concept of EI has recently been introduced into the field of education, which has resulted
in a topic with relevance in current educational research (Wong, Wong, and Peng 2010). This
aspect coincides with a generalised international agreement among educators, politicians
and society in general regarding the importance of emotions and their necessary inclusion
Journal of Education for Teaching   129

in educational systems (Coelho, Sousa, and Figueira 2014; Greenberg et al. 2003; Hawkey
2006; Inglés et al. 2012); the latter benefits the general well-being of individuals and society
because it allows an adjustment to the immediate context in an adequate, socially regulated
manner (Garner and Stowe 2010; Levenson et al. 1991). For this reason, it will likely continue
to be a topic of scientific and academic interest (Ribero-Marulanda and Vargas 2013). For
these goals to be achieved, the need to count on a teaching team that has a high degree
of EI has become unquestionable, something that highlights the importance of the devel-
opment of emotional skills in the initial training of candidates wishing to become teachers
(Palomera, Fernandez-Berrocal, and Brackett 2008).
In this sense and from the analysis and interpretation of overall results, participants in this
study show acceptable levels of EI and skills that are adequate to feel, express and under-
stand their emotions according to the criteria that each of the instruments used present:
MSCEIT (Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso 2001) and TMMS-24 (Fernandez-Berrocal, Extremera,
and Ramos 2004).
Thus, the results show a team of aspirants to Secondary Education teaching characterised
by being emotionally competent with a predominance of strategic EI. This is significant,
given that the management and understanding of emotions affect, among others, learning
processes, mental and physical health, the quality of personal and social relationships as well
as academic and work performance (Brackett and Katulak 2006).
According to Sutton, Mudrey-Camino, and Knight (2009), teachers put into practice their
emotional regulation skills because they consider that this makes them more effective in
classroom management. It allows them to demonstrate discipline and to achieve academic
goals as well as to attain more positive relations in the classroom, so it follows that this group
will facilitate the development of these variables in students, a task which, moreover, is irrefu-
table in the professional performance of teachers for the future of society (Iordanoglou 2007).
However, due to the characteristics of the teaching profession, the levels of EI in this
study should have provided higher scores of the acceptable mean since people with high
EI may evaluate and control their emotions and those of others effectively. To do that, they
acquire greater control over the tasks they perform which, in turn, affect their self-efficacy,
success at work and satisfaction.
Similarly, there is evidence that shows that teachers with high EI tend to have less stress
at work and perform more efficiently (Kauts and Saroj 2010). For this reason, those aspiring
to teach in Secondary Education should improve EI levels significantly, guaranteeing in this
way the maximum potential in their professional performance. The profession is not without
complexity and difficulty due to its inherent characteristics (Hassan, Pheng, and Yew 2013)
such as the lack of motivation among students, student lack of discipline, low social recog-
nition of the teaching profession or excess of administrative tasks (Manassero et al. 2006),
as well as confronting multiple relationships with other stakeholders (Chang 2009). These
characteristics have not gone unnoticed in other studies where a claim is made to reinforce
content related to EI through structured curricula belonging to different disciplines related
to Education Sciences such as Pedagogy (Corcoran and Tormey 2010, 2012b; Pugh 2008).
As far as the influence of the variable age on participant subject scores on EI, the research
reported here did not observe any significant differences. On the other hand, the compar-
ison of means showed significant differences between men and women using the MSCEIT,
something that did not happen with the TMMS-24. This fact seems to coincide with other
studies where, in general terms, there were differences as a function of gender in EI measures
130    M. Gutiérrez-Moret et al.

according to the use of performance-based measures such as the MSCEIT or self-report

measures such as the TMMS (Extremera, Fernández-Berrocal, and Salovey 2006; Pena and
Repetto 2008).
In general, the scientific literature shows that women have greater EI (Corcoran and Tormey
2012a; Extremera, Fernández-Berrocal, and Salovey 2006; Hargie, Saunders, and Dickson
1994; Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey 2000). The comparison of means in this study points to
significant differences between men and women according to the MSCEIT test, with women
being those who scored highest, something that is evident in other similar studies (Corcoran
and Tormey 2012a; Extremera, Fernández-Berrocal, and Salovey 2006; Hargie, Saunders, and
Dickson 1994; Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey 2000). In this sense, significantly higher scores in
general EI, the strategic EI area and the facilitation and emotional management branches
stand out. Thus, it is assumed that this sample of women have greater ability to generate
effective strategies, better ability to create emotions and integrate feelings in the way of
thinking and, finally, they are able to use emotions to help attain their goals rather than
being influenced by their own emotions in an unpredictable manner.
This study also found differences among students enrolled in the various specialities of the
Master’s degree in Teacher Training in some aspects of EI, namely in the strategic EI area and
the branch of emotional management in the Physical Education and Educational Guidance
specialities; it is particularly true of Educational Guidance students who had higher scores.
This aspect does not go unnoticed in a speciality whose population has studied Pedagogy,
Psychology and Educational Psychology, where EI has proven to be a valuable construct
(Ferrándiz et al. 2012) relating to multiple aspects of academic performance (Bar-On 2003;
García-Ros and Pérez-González 2011; Parker et al. 2004). In addition, these disciplines have
transformed their training plans in order to adjust to the requirements of Organic Law 2/2006,
dated 3 May on Education (2006), and Organic Law 2/2013, dated 2 November, regarding
the Improvement of Educational Quality. Both Laws are geared towards comprehensive
development focused on skills. Furthermore, differences were found in the area of emotional
perception among the specialities of Technology and Biology and Geology, Technology and
Educational Guidance and Technology and English. In this case, there seems to be a lack
of training within these disciplines in the field of EI, which can be seen in previous studies
such as Castejón’s (2006) where science and technology students displayed a low degree of
attention to feelings while an important gap between the profile of the university graduate
and the professional profile required by society was observed.

In the light of the results obtained and their discussion, it becomes necessary to design
programmes aimed at developing emotional skills in the training programmes of
Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees that are linked to subsequent professional performance,
which student-teachers have requested since they lend greater importance to the lack of
personal resources. These resources include emotional skills above other factors such as
the lack of academic preparation or lack of experience (Pena, Rey, and Extremera 2012).
The scientific literature to address the EI teaching methodology is scarce (Pugh 2008).
Estola et al. (2007) highlight the meaning of narrative and action-based methods in EI
teacher education, but the current research suggests that any guideline should be based
on the previous EI skills of students. Therefore, according to the differences observed
Journal of Education for Teaching   131

in the different specialities studied, it seems appropriate to provide specific training in

accordance with the degrees of origin. As a function of these differences, training pro-
grammes on emotional skills adapted to the needs of each professional profile that gains
access to training should be introduced.
The development of emotional skills in the authors’ country does not appear formally in
most teacher training programmes (Bisquerra 2005; Cabello, Ruiz-Aranda, and Fernández-
Berrocal 2010; Fernández-Berrocal, Extremera, and Palomera 2008; Palomero 2009), an issue
that seems to have been ignored in the design and planning of teacher training in Spain
(Gutiérrez, Ibáñez, and Aguilar 2013). In agreement with Castejón, Cantero, and Pérez (2008),
it is interesting to establish a socio-emotional skill profile for each scientific-professional field
that will help design programmes that are more in tune with the different needs of future
teachers in accordance with their professional profile.
Finally, and as a limitation of this study, the authors were unable to find any literature
with a similar objective aimed at evaluating the EI of prospective teachers in Secondary
Education from various disciplines, so it has proved difficult to establish comparisons of
results with other studies in other countries. Furthermore, other factors such as personality
and mental health, among others, not evaluated in this study, can affect the EI scores, which
can constitute a weakness of this work, as well as the lack of a control group to compare the
EI scores of the collective of prospective teachers in itself.

Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

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