Academic journal article College Student Journal

Burnout in College Student Volunteers: A Cross-Level Study

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Burnout in College Student Volunteers: A Cross-Level Study

Article excerpt

Burnout in college students is an issue of concern. It adversely affects the learning of students as well as their overall health and well-being. However, little attention has been paid to burnout in college students who donate their time as volunteers in services to their community. This study examined both individual and group factors correlating with burnout among college students who regularly participated in volunteer services. The subject sample consisted of undergraduate students in a mid-sized private university located in southern Taiwan. The sample consisted of 28 groups of students affiliated with different departments within the university. Questionnaires were provided to the 28 groups, and responses were received from 22 of the 28. A total of 340 valid responses were received. The questionnaire included the following sections: burnout, emotional intelligence, team innovation climate, negative affect, core self-evaluation, subjective workload and demographic information. The results showed a significant prediction of subjective workload on burnout, and they showed that emotional intelligence moderated the relationship between subjective workload and burnout. Furthermore, the findings also revealed that positive team innovation climate helped to alleviate burnout feeling. In conclusion, this study expands our understanding of burnout issues among college students by focusing on volunteerism and reveals that enhancing emotional intelligence and fostering team spirit are essential for ameliorating burnout for college student volunteers.

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Burnout in college students is an issue of concern due to the various demands of college life and the probable adverse impact on their learning as well as on their well-being. Past research has focused upon examining various aspects of students' lives, such as academic studies and achievement, and has identified factors, including workload and personality, which correlated with college student burnout (Weckwerth & Flynn, 2006; Jacobs & Dodd, 2003; Hardy & Dodd, 1998). In one such study, Dahlin and colleagues (2007) focused on burnout among medical students and pointed out that performance-based self-esteem correlated with student burnout; that is, to feel self-worth, students feel compelled to achieve extraordinary accomplishments. Their compulsion inevitably leads to exhaustion and disengagement. However, beyond the academic factors, college students are an important source of volunteer workers, and the issue of burnout in college student volunteers is less explored. The current study, therefore, examined both individual factors and group factors correlating with burnout among college student volunteers.

College student volunteers eagerly devote their time and skills to benefit those receiving their services, and students, in return, also benefit. In addition to the emotional pay-off, student volunteers obtain new skills which enhance their resumes and put them into an advantaged position in their future job-searching. Most important of all, with positive voluntary experience, they will likely continue their voluntary work in the future. Nevertheless, involving oneself in voluntary work means taking time away from studying, paid work or other activities. How to achieve balance among the many demands upon oneself is a challenge students have to face and resolve. A study conducted by Jacob and Dodd (2003) revealed that the actual workload has less to do with burnout; it is an individual's subjective perception of workload that counts. This finding highlights the importance of personal perceptions about the reality and one's abilities to deal with the various demands of study, work and life in general.

Emotional intelligence, an important construct among psychological, educational and management research (Law, Wong & Song, 2004; Wong & Law, 2002), is defined as a set of abilities which can help people to understand and regulate their emotions and use their emotions to direct their activity in positive and productive channels. …

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