10 SES 12 D, Emotional Knowledge, Emotional Experience and Dimensions of Burnout
Teachers who experience a burnout have a decreased work effectiveness and engagement (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001). Burnout is often an endpoint of long-term stress and may result in teacher attrition. It is widely acknowledged that burnout entails three distinct aspects, namely emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. Both the school context and teachers’ individual characteristics have an impact on the possibility of having a burnout. Regarding the school context, the student-teacher interactions and students’ behaviour are often cited as one of the main sources leading to a burnout (Shen, Leslie, Spybrook, & Ma, 2012). The students’ composition in a school has already been related to teacher burnout, especially in disadvantaged schools. These schools often deal with higher rates of students with an ethnic minority background (Kelly, 2004).
Teachers often experience more difficulties to successfully cope with the challenges of ethnic diversity, resulting in a lower satisfaction and school commitment when teaching in schools with a high rate of ethnic minority students (Renzulli, Parrott, & Beattie, 2011; Mueller, Finley, Iverson, & Price, 1999). The aim of this study is to analyze whether the students’ ethnic composition has an impact on the three dimensions of burnout. Most studies have researched the association between the students’ ethnic composition and job satisfaction, but the effect on burnout and its specific dimensions have not been studied yet. However, the three dimensions of burnout are differently impacted by the school context and the teachers’ background characteristics (Gold, 1985; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010).
In addition, studies researching the association between the students’ ethnic composition and job satisfaction rarely try to explain why teachers feel more dissatisfied in schools with a high rate of ethnic minority students. However, Renzulli, Parrott, & Beattie (2011) indicate that teachers’ perceptions about the students may explain why teachers feel less satisfied in such schools. In schools with a higher rate of ethnic minority students, teachers perceive their students generally as less teachable (Van Maele & Van Houtte, 2011). Hence, we hypothesize that teachers will perceive the students in school with a high proportion of ethnic minority students as less teachable, which will result in a high likelihood that they struggle with the subdimensions of burnout.
Furthermore, Renzulli, Parrott, & Beattie (2011) indicate that ethnic prejudices could reinforce the possible tensions which already seem to be apparent between teachers and students in schools with a high rate of ethnic minority students. Hence, we hypothesize that teachers who have more ethnic prejudices towards students may find it more difficult to teach in high diversity schools and therefore could struggle more with a burnout than teachers without ethnic prejudices. Research has also shown that teachers with less teaching experience may problematize cultural diversity more than experienced teachers (Freeman, Brookhart, & Loadman, 1999). Accordingly, when teachers have more experience, the better they can deal with students and perceive them as less troubling. Finally, we hypothesize that younger teachers may have more difficulties with an ethnically diverse student population. Our research questions are the following:
- Does the ethnic composition of the students have an effect on the teachers’ emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and/or reduced personal accomplishment?
- Does teachability mediate the possible association between the ethnic composition and the three subdimensions of burnout?
- Do ethnic prejudice and teaching experience moderate the possible association between the ethnic composition and the three subdimensions of burnout?
Multilevel analyses were carried out on the RaDiSS data. This data was collected through a questionnaire in 2014-2015 with 614 Flemish teachers in 44 Flemish secondary schools. The data was gathered in four multicultural districts in Flanders, and the sample contains one third of schools with a low proportion of ethnic minority pupils, one third with a medium proportion of ethnic minority pupils and one third with a high proportion of ethnic minority pupils. The ethnic composition of the students was measured based on the 3370 students who are in their sixth year of secondary school. In this study burnout is analysed through its three distinct subdimensions, namely emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. For each subdimension, there was one scale constructed, with respectively 8 items, 7 items and 8 items. A higher score indicated that the teachers was more likely to suffer from a burnout. In the first model we tested if the ethnic composition had an effect on teachers’ emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. The second model we analysed whether teachability had a mediating effect. In the final model we tested both the direct and the possible moderating effects of teaching experience and ethnic prejudice, in which we also included the following control variables: the track and grade in which the teacher teaches and degree and gender of the teacher.
The preliminary results indicate that the ethnic composition of the students only has a significant effect on teachers’ emotional exhaustion. Teachers working in schools with more ethnic minority students have higher rates of emotional exhaustion, yet they do not have a higher sense of depersonalization or reduced personal accomplishment. However, the teachability of the students operates as a mediator in the association between the students’ ethnic composition and the teachers’ emotional exhaustion. Teachers in schools with a high rate of ethnic minority students perceive the students as less teachable, which then results in a higher emotional exhaustion. In addition to this mediating effect, teachability also has the largest direct effect on all three subdimensions of the burnout scale. Hence, teachers who perceive their students as less teachable will struggle more with feelings of depersonalization, reduced personal accomplishment and emotional exhaustion. In addition, ethnic prejudice and teaching experience did not have a moderating effect on the significant association between the ethnic composition and teachers’ emotional exhaustion. However, both ethnic prejudice and teaching experience have a direct effect on the subdimensions of burnout. Teachers with more teaching experience feel more emotionally exhausted and more depersonalized compared to young teachers. Nevertheless, more experienced teachers struggle less with a sense of reduced personal accomplishment. Finally, across all schools, teachers with more prejudices towards ethnic minorities, feel more depersonalization towards their students and more reduced feelings of personal accomplishment.
Freeman, D., Brookhart, S., & Loadman, W. (1999). Realities of teaching in racially/ethnically diverse schools feedback from entry-level teachers. Urban Education, 34(1), 89-114. Gold, Y. (1985). The relationship of six personal and life history variables to standing on three dimensions of the Maslach Burnout Inventory in a sample of elementary and junior high school teachers. Educational and psychological measurement, 45(2), 377-387. Kelly, S. (2004). An event history analysis of teacher attrition: Salary, teacher tracking, and socially disadvantaged schools. The Journal of experimental education, 72(3), 195-220. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual review of psychology, 52(1), 397-422. Shen, J., Leslie, J. M., Spybrook, J. K., & Ma, X. (2012). Are principal background and school processes related to teacher job satisfaction? A multilevel study using schools and staffing survey 2003-04. American Educational Research Journal, 49(2), 200-230. Skaalvik, E. M., & Skaalvik, S. (2010). Teacher self-efficacy and teacher burnout: A study of relations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 1059-1069. Van Maele, D., & Van Houtte, M. (2011). Teacher trust in students in technical/vocational schools versus academic schools and the role of teacher perception of students' teachability. In Psychology of trust (pp. 117-135): Nova Science Publishers.
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