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Being our professional best: Measuring burnout

This study investigates two aspects: How do English Language lecturers feel about their chosen profession? Are they generally satisfied with their job or are they silently suffering from job stress and burnout?

How do English Language lecturers feel about their chosen profession? Are they generally satisfied with their job or are they silently suffering from job stress and burnout?

These are questions of considerable interest to us, especially, during times when universities are aspiring for world class ranking status. Of late there has been an influx of local and international students and the English as a Second Language (ESL) Faculty carries the burden of preparing students of lower proficiency in English to communicate effectively in English. ESL class size, workload and faculty expectations have also increased in the past decade.

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long time involvement in situations that are emotionally demanding. Many studies have been conducted on employee burnout with varying and at times inconsistent results. However, there is scarce information in Malaysia on burnout especially among university faculty members. The purpose of this study is twofold; first, to investigate the burnout level of ESL lecturers in UiTM, and second, to determine the association between the level of burnout and general health and well-being of the academic staff.

In this study, the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) measuring the degree of physical and psychological fatigue experienced in three sub-dimensions of burnout: personal, work-related, and client (student)-related burnout was used. The CBI was also complemented with the World Health Organisation (WHO) well-being index and additional survey items developed by the researchers. They were used on 102 Academy of Language Studies lecturers.

To determine the validity of the instrument, factor analysis was used. The Keiser-Meier-Olkin (KMO) values were more than the usual acceptable level of 0.7, the average variance extracted (AVE) values were more than 50% and the Critical Ratio (CR) values were more than 0.7. All of these values indicate that the items in each construct were reliable measures of the concepts. Hence, the CBI and the general health and well-being measure were found to be a reliable and valid measure to evaluate burnout among ESL lecturers.

The summary statistics indicated the mean scores for Personal, Work-related and Student-related burnout were 2.8±0.7, 2.7±0.8 and 2.5±0.6, respectively. Since all the mean values were below the average of three, it indicated that, overall, there was no major burnout among the ESL lecturers.

The mean scores for Well-Being was 4.1±0.8, which was more than the midpoint response of 3.5, indicating good well-being. Similarly, for General Health the mean score was 3.6±0.7, which shows that overall the ESL lecturers enjoyed good health. However, this study found that though there was some level of burnout among the ESL lecturers in UiTM, overall no major burnout was evident among these lecturers. This study corroborates the findings in other studies on burnout involving language practitioners. For example, the study conducted using the CBI found no major burnout among teachers in New Zealand.

Contact Information:

Krishnakumari Karuthan
Celestina Evanson
T. Parimala
S. Sivajothy
Anne Leong
Academy of Language Studies
UiTM Shah Alam

Darmarajah Nadarajah | Research asia research news
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