A Survey of Burnout Among University Music Faculty

  • PDF: https://www.jstor.org/stable/40374508

According to Vandenberghe and Huberman, burnout is "a crisis of overworked and disillusioned human service workers."1 This syndrome has been extended to members of the teaching profession and has been categorized into three distinct and measurable components; emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.2 Emotional exhaustion is a fatigued feeling that develops when energies are drained. Chronic emotional exhaustion causes educators to feel that they can no longer offer full energy to students or other professional expectations. Depersonalization is a lack of positive feelings toward other humans. Teachers who experience strong levels of depersonalization are likely to display negative attitudes toward students and colleagues by using derogatory labels, exhibiting cold attitudes, and even physically distancing themselves. Reduced personal accomplishment is a feeling of disappointment due to perceived lack of productivity. Educators who exhibit reduced personal accomplishment often feel that they are no longer contributing to students' development, or to the profession in general. While emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment are often present simultaneously, it is possible to experience or suffer more strongly from only one or two components.

Byrne conducted a review of research literature regarding teacher burnout to determine the contributions of background variables, organizational factors, and personality factors.3 Regarding background variables, she found that younger teachers tended to report higher levels of emotional exhaustion than older teachers and that high school teachers reported greater levels of overall burnout than elementary and middle school teachers. Byrne also found that role conflict, role ambiguity, work overload, classroom climate, and lack of input in decision making may have contributed to teacher burnout. Finally, personality factors including locus of control and self-esteem appeared to be related to teacher burnout.

Other researchers have conducted burnout studies specifically related to teachers of music. Heston, Dedrick, Raschke, and Whitehead surveyed 120 public school band directors and found that student attitudes, student behavior, and teaching load contributed most to job stress, while student success contributed most to job satisfaction.4 Scheib interviewed four K-12 music teachers and found that role conflict, role overload, underutilization of skills, and resource inadequacy were significant stressors.5

Hamann administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and a researcher-constructed Demographic Data Sheet (DDS) to 45 public school orchestra directors and found that, in addition to the influences of young teacher age and lack of teaching experience, directors reported lack of recognition and a lack of personal goal planning as primary sources of burnout.6

In a similar study, Hamann examined differences in reported burnout among general public school, public school music, and university music instructors.7 He surveyed 338 educators, again using the MBI and DDS to measure burnout and collect demographic information. Based on subject responses, Hamann found that elementary school music teachers reported lower levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than other music teachers or non-music teachers, although he cautioned that all teachers reported some level of burnout. Environmental and demographic variables influencing burnout of music teachers included lack of cooperation from other teachers and administrators, unclear career goals, lack of recognition, low salary, and work overload.

The collective findings related to music teacher burnout are largely in congruence with Byrne's review of general teacher burnout. Music teachers, like other educators, reported age, teaching experience, and workload as contributors to stress. Interestingly, music teachers also reported lack of recognition, resources, and cooperation as problems on the job. Despite the relative wealth of research regarding burnout of elementary and secondary school music teachers, with the exception of Hamann's second study, no known literature has focused on burnout of university music faculty.

The principal purpose of the current study was to compare perceived burnout levels (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment) of university music faculty by tenure status (tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure-track) and primary teaching area (performance, academic, or both). The secondary purpose was to examine relationships among perceived burnout, academic, and personal variables (hours per week of teaching, preparing for classes, scholarly/creative work, service, exercise, sleep, family obligations, relaxing, and work with another job).

Survey Instruments

Burnout was measured using Maslach, Jackson, and Schwab's Educators Survey (ES) (Table 1).8 Items 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 13, 14, 16, and 20 are indicators of emotional exhaustion (a fatigued feeling that develops when energies are drained), resulting in scores ranging from 0-54. Items 5, 10, 11, 15, and 22 are indicators of depersonalization (a lack of positive feelings toward other humans), resulting in scores ranging from 0-30. Items 4, 7, 9, 12, 17, 18, 19, and 21 are indicators of low personal accomplishment (a feeling of disappointment due to perceived lack of productivity), resulting in scores ranging from 0- 48. High scores for emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, as well as low scores for personal accomplishment are considered indicators of burnout. The categorization levels for emotional exhaustion are: "High" (27 or above), "Moderate" (17-26), and "Low" (0-16). The categorization levels for depersonalization are: "High" (14 or above), "Moderate" (9-13), and "Low" (0-8). Categorization levels for personal accomplishment are: "High" (37 or above), "Moderate" (31-36), and "Low" (0-30) (Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter 1996). Iwanicki and Schwab reported reliability coefficients of .90 for emotional exhaustion, .76 for depersonalization, and .76 for personal accomplishment.9 Academic and personal variables were measured using a researcher-constructed adaptation of Hamann's Demographic Data Form (DDF).10 While permission was obtained from Hamann to use the DDF in the current study, the original version of the form was not available. The current researcher thus reconstructed and adapted Hamann's form to survey variables of interest in the current study (hours per week of teaching, preparing for classes, scholarly/creative work, service, exercise, sleep, family obligations, relaxing, and work with another job) (Table 2).

Table 1.

Educators Survey (ES)


How Often:

0
Never

1
A few times a year or less

2
Once a month or less

3
A few times a month

4
Once a week

5
A few times a week

6
Every day


How Often
0 - 6

Statements:

1.________

I feel emotionally drained from my work.

2.________

I feel used up at the end of the workday.

3.________

I feel fatigued when I get up in the morning and have to face another day on the job.

4.________

I can easily understand how my students feel about things.

5.________

I feel I treat some students as if they were impersonal objects.

6.________

Working with people all day is really a strain for me.

7.________

I deal very effectively with the problems of my students.

8.________

I feel burned out from my work.

9.________

I feel I'm positively influencing other people's lives through my work.

10._______

I've become more callous toward people since I took this job.

11._______

I worry that this job is hardening me emotionally.

12._______

I feel very energetic.

13._______

I feel frustrated by my job.

14._______

I feel I'm working too hard on my job.

15._______

I don't really care what happens to some students.

16._______

Working with people directly puts too much stress on me.

17._______

I can easily create a relaxed atmosphere with my students.

18._______

I feel exhilarated after working closely with my students.

19._______

I have accomplished many worthwhile things in this job.

20._______

I feel like I'm at the end of my rope.

21._______

In my work, I deal with emotional problems very calmly.

22._______

I feel students blame me for some of their problems.


Method

The ES and DDF were distributed to mailboxes of 80 faculty members at a public university school of music. Of these 80 potential subjects, 26 had returned completed surveys within one week. A follow-up letter was distributed and another 10 completed surveys were returned, for a total of 36 responses (45 percent of 80). Due to the concern that nonrespondents' answers might differ from those of respondents, 10 potential nonrespondents were contacted randomly to complete the ES and DDF. Five of those 10 potential nonrespondents returned completed surveys, and did not differ significantly from the respondents in any question category (p > .05). Thus nonrespondents' answers were combined with respondents' data for a total of 41 subjects (51.25 percent of 80).

Table 2.

Demographic Data Form


1. Employment status (non-tenure-track, tenure-track, or tenured)

_____________________

2. Primary teaching area (performance or academic)

_____________________

3. Average number of hours teaching per week

_____________________

4. Average number of hours preparing for classes per week

_____________________

5. Average number of hours spent on scholarly/creative work per week

_____________________

6. Average number of hours spent on service per week

_____________________

7. Average number of hours of exercise per week

_____________________

8. Average number of hours of sleep per week

_____________________

9. Average number of hours with family obligations per week

_____________________

10. Average number of hours relaxing or socializing per week

_____________________

11. Average number of hours spent on another job per week

_____________________


Results

Descriptive data were computed for all ES responses, including means and standard deviations for emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment, by tenure status and primary teaching area (Tables 3 and 4). Descriptive data were also calculated for DDF variables, including means and standard deviations for combined subject responses (Table 5).

Comparisons of perceived burnout levels by tenure status and primary teaching area were determined using a two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), with tenure status and teaching area serving as the independent variables and emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment serving as the dependent variables. The results of the MANOVA revealed no statistically significant differences for tenure status or interactions between tenure status and teaching area (p > .05), but did reveal a statistically significant effect for teaching area (F = 2.86; df = 6, 62; p F = 8.27; df = 2, 33; p = .001) and depersonalization (F = 5.05; df = 2, 33; p

The relationships among perceived burnout, academic, and personal variables were determined using Pearson product-moment correlation analyses, with ES and DDF data serving as measures of the respective variables. The results of the correlation analyses revealed moderately strong positive relationships between emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (r = .71), and between depersonalization and hours of class preparation (r = .59). A moderate positive relationship was observed between emotional exhaustion and hours of class preparation (r = .46). Moderate negative relationships were observed between emotional exhaustion and hours of sleep (r = - .40) and between depersonalization and hours of sleep (r = - .38).

Table 3. Means and Standard Deviations for Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and Personal Accomplishment by Tenure Status.

 

N

EE Mean/SD

DEP Mean/SD

PA Mean/SD

Tenured

11

22.73/11.04

6.55/6.01

38.68/8.74

Tenure-Track

9

23.78/9.55

5.00/4.06

37.78/5.21

Non-Tenure-Track

21

13.76/9.34

3.29/3.05

40.64/6.44

Total

41

18.37/10.74

4.54/4.35

39.49/6.84

 

Table 4. Means and Standard Deviations for Emotional Exhaustion, Depersonalization, and Personal Accomplishment by Primary Teaching Area.

 

N

EE Mean/SD

DEP Mean/SD

PA Mean/SD

Performance

19

13.05/10.35

2.56/1.84

41.08/5.98

Academic

15

22.87/12.35

5.33/4.62

38.87/6.09

Both

7

23.14/10.93

8.14/6.12

36.50/9.93

Total

41

18.37/10.74

4.54/4.35

39.49/6.84

 

Table 5. Means and Standard Deviations for Demographic Data Form Variables (N = 41)

 

Mean

SD

Hours of teaching per week

13.43

5.32

Hours of class preparation per week

9.57

11.07

Hours of scholarly/creative work per week

9.94

10.24

Hours of service per week

4.47

7.21

Hours of exercise per week

2.63

2.23

Hours of sleep per week

47.48

8.71

Hours of family obligations per week

16.13

17.99

Hours of relaxation per week

7.99

5.76

Hours of work with another job per week

6.76

8.49

Discussion

Faculty teaching performance classes reported significantly lower levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than those teaching academic or a combination of academic and performance classes. These findings seem to support the research of Heston, Dedrick, Raschke, and Whitehead, who found that student attitudes, student behavior, and teaching load contributed most to job stress, while student success contributed most to job satisfaction.11 Academic faculty in the current study typically teach 12 hours per week with class sizes ranging from 20 to 100 students, whereas performance faculty typically teach 18 hours per week, but in private lesson settings. Heston, et al., suggested that music faculty may benefit from individual instruction with students, while large class settings may contribute to burnout. Further research should be conducted to determine possible causes for the observed discrepancies in the current study and to consider ways in which academic teaching loads might become less overwhelming (e.g., course release or support from teaching assistants).

While no significant differences were found based on tenure status, it is interesting to note that non-tenure-track faculty reported the lowest mean scores for emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, as well as the highest mean scores for personal accomplishment. Further research should be conducted with a larger sample size to support or refute these discrepancies, as well as to determine potential causes of increased burnout for tenured and tenure-track faculty in the current study (e.g., pressure to produce scholarly/creative work and to serve on campus and community committees).

Positive relationships were observed between hours of class preparation and burnout (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization). While causation cannot be inferred by correlation data, these findings tend to support the research of Byrne, who found that work overload was a substantial contributor to teacher burnout.12 Thus, administrators may need to exercise caution when assigning teaching loads for university music faculty to allow adequate time for preparation, grading, and self-reflection.

Negative relationships were observed between reported hours of sleep and burnout (emotional exhaustion and depersonalization). These findings support the research of Kelly, who observed links between patterns of sleep and stress.13 The mean hours of sleep per week reported by subjects (47.48 per week or 6.78 per day) is also less than the typically recommended seven to nine hours per day.14 Time and resources may be needed to emphasize the importance of sound sleep practices through in-service workshops and related materials.

Summary

Collectively, results from the study provide evidence that, while no significant differences in burnout were reported based on tenure status, faculty who teach academic classes, or a combination of academic and performance classes, reported significantly higher levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than faculty who teach performance classes. Additionally, moderate to moderately strong relationships were observed among emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, hours of class preparation, and hours of sleep for combined subjects. Although these results should be interpreted with caution (data were self-reported by 41 volunteer university faculty members from a single, public university school of music), the findings may be useful as a component of local curricular revision and faculty mentoring, as well as a catalyst for future studies, to help university music faculty reduce burnout and make the most of their professional and personal lives.

List of References

Bernhard, Harold Christian. "Body and Mind 101." New York State School Music News 68, no. 5 (2005): 16-17.

Byrne, Barbara M. "The Nomological Network of Teacher Burnout: A Literature Review and Empirically Validated Model. In R. Vandenberghe & A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing teacher burnout: A Sourcebook of international research and practice (pp. 15-37). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge College Press, 1999.

Hamann, Donald L. "Burnout and the Public School Orchestra Director." Update: Applications of Research in Music Education 4, no. 3 (1986): 11-14.

______. "Burnout Assessment and Comparison among General Public School, Public School Music, and University Music Instructors." Dialogue in Instrumental Music Education 13, no. 2 (1989): 49-64.

Heston, Melissa L., Dedrick, Charles, Raschke, Donna, and Whitehead, Jane. "Job Satisfaction and Stress among Band Directors." Journal of Research in Music Education 44 (1996): 319-27.

Iwanicki, E. F., and Schwab, Richard L. "A Cross-Validational Study of the Maslach Burnout Inventory." Educational and Psychological Measurement 41 (1981): 1167-74.

Kelly, William E. "Worry Content Associated with Decreased Sleep-Length among College Students." College Student Journal 37, no. 1 (2003): 93-95.

Maslach, Christina, Jackson, Susan E., and Schwab, Richard L. Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey. Palo Alto, CA: College of California, Consulting Psychologists Press, 1986.

Maslach, Christina, Jackson, Susan E., and Leiter, Michael P. Maslach Burnout Inventory-Manual (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: College of California, Consulting Psychologists Press, 1996.

Scheib, John W. "Role Stress in the Professional Life of the School Music Teacher: A Collective Case Study." Journal of Research in Music Education 51 (2003): 124-36.

Vandenberghe, Roland and Huberman, A. Michael. Understanding and Preventing Teacher Burnout: A Sourcebook of International Research and Practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge College Press, 1999.

Endnotes

1Vandenberghe and Huberman, Understanding and Preventing Burnout, 1.

2Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter, Maslach Burnout Manual, 4.

3Byrne, "The Nomological Network of Burnout," 15-37.

4Heston, et al., "Job Satisfaction and Stress," 319-27.

5Scheib, "Role Stress in Professional Life," 124-36.

6Hamann, "Burnout and the Public School Director," 11-14

7Hamann, "Burnout Assessment and Comparison," 49-64.

8Maslach, Jackson, and Schwab, Maslach Burnout Survey.

9Iwanicki and Schwab, "A Cross-Validation Study," 1167-74.

10Hamann, "Burnout and the Public School Director," 11-14.

11Heston, et al., "Job Satisfaction and Stress," 319-27.

12Byrne, "The Nomological Network of Burnout," 15-37.

13Kelly, "Worry Content," 93-95.

14Bernhard, "Body and Mind," 16-17.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 02/10/2018

H. Christian Bernhard II

H. Christian Bernhard II, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Music Education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches undergraduate courses in instrumental music methods and conducting, as well as graduate courses in music education history, philosophy, psychology, assessment, and curriculum. He holds degrees in music performance and education from The Peabody Conservatory of Music, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and taught band and orchestra in the public schools of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Dr. Bernhard’s research interests include comprehensive musicianship, assessment, and musicians’ mental health. He has presented papers and educational clinics at conferences including The National Association for Music Education, New York State School Music Association, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and internationally at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England and the Liszt School of Music in Weimar, Germany. His research has also been published in numerous professional journals, including Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Contributions to Music Education, Journal of Band Research, and College Music Symposium, and he currently serves on the editorial board of NAfME’s Journal of Music Teacher Education.

Dr. Bernhard remains active as a conductor, consultant, and adjudicator, and is a member of The National Association for Music Education, College Music Society, New York State School Music Association, and Chautauqua County Music Teachers Association.

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