With rapid changes in social, political, and economic life of global society, students in school often face many life stresses, such as academic pressure, emotional distress, role ambiguity, career and achievement stress, stress from family expectations, value conflict, emotional instability, and feelings of alienation. Excessive stress can impose a negative impact on students' learning, even placing students at risk of learning burnout. (1)
Previous studies of burnout focused primarily on professionals who help others. These studies found that the long-term stress of work and over-stimulation of individual, mental, physical, and other resources, caused depletion of energy and physical or mental exhaustion. It often led individuals to feel helpless and to display symptoms of emotional exhaustion. (2-3) Maslach & Schaufeli (4) referred to this phenomenon as "the three-factor model of career burnout". Until now the theory has been a major reference for researchers who study career burnout. According to the theory, career burnout has three primary aspects: (1) low sense of achievement--a negative reaction of sense of achievement regarding the individual and the individual's work. The individuals feels depressed, withdrawn, ineffective, and generally unresponsive; (2) depersonalization--a negative emotion associated with personal interactions, the individual loses his or her original enthusiasm or attitude, acts or reacts inappropriately toward his or her clients and colleagues; (3) emotional exhaustion--a mental and physical sense of powerlessness, the individual feels physical exhaustion, energy depletion, emotional exhaustion, loss of pleasure, lethargy. Many of these studies targeted professionals whose work requires them to have a close interaction with others such as doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers, and police officers. These professionals not only must possess and provide professional knowledge or skills to others, but also must have frequent interactions with groups of people. When the working conditions are less than ideal and potential problems occur (e.g., personality, personal life, etc.), these professionals may gradually lose their idealism, energy and goals. After a period of time, they may eventually suffer from career burnout.
The general version of the Maslach Burnout Survey (Maslach Burnout Inventory- General Survey, MBIGS)5 has been applied to many areas when studying burnout. Researchers who are concerned with students' psychological development have gradually extended the career burnout theory to academic learning areas. (6-11) These studies found that burnout also appears in students' population. In the view of Meier & Schmeck (12) and McCarthy, Pretty & Catano, (13) learning burnout is one of the common experiences of college students. According to researches, (14-15) students who suffer from learning burnout often display the following characteristics: (1) Decreased learning and learning motivation. (2) Negative changes in their affective and cognitive function, significant loss learning enthusiasm and energy. (3) Inability to properly cope with stress and frustration with homework; appearing not to care about schoolwork. (4). Appear to have depleted physical resources. (5). Negative learning experiences from excessive high expectations, thus losing their sense of accomplishment. (6). Display alienation or withdrawal behaviors toward school tasks and activities, such as being late for school, leaving early, being absent or dropping out.
Learning burnout is an expansion of the idea of career burnout. Some researchers pointed out, (6,14,15) the symptoms include the emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and appearance of low personal accomplishment. From our teaching experience in Taiwan, we found that college students in Taiwan may show negative learning emotion in addition to the symptoms mentioned above.
The cause of individual feeling burnout is related to a number of factors, but stress factors are the most widely discussed. …