Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Differences in Self-Reported Academic Burnout among Undergraduates

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Gender Differences in Self-Reported Academic Burnout among Undergraduates

Article excerpt


Burnout is one of the most researched psychological conditions among organisational behaviour scientists and practitioners. Maslach and Goldberg (1998) defined burnout as ''a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment'' that occurs in response to emotional and interpersonal stressors that individuals experience. Maslach and Goldberg also believed that burnout consisted of three components viz; emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced professional accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion is the basic element of the condition, and reflects a feeling of being emotionally and physically used up. Depersonalization is a state characterized by cynical attitude to work, and negative responses to organisational members. Feeling incompetent and loss of confidence in one's abilities is the distinguishing characteristic of reduced professional accomplishment (Maslach&Leiter, 1997). In their analysis of burnout, Schaufeli, & Enzmann (1998) characterized burnout as a syndrome that manifested affective, cognitive, motivational, and behavioral outcomes that increased vulnerability to depression, helplessness, and loss of zeal, and eventual withdrawal from significant others such as friends and family.

Early burnout researches were based on the assumption that burnout was the outcome of intense one on one interaction between human service professionals with their clients (Freudenberger, 1975; Maslach, 1976; Maslach, Schaufeli, &Leiter, 2001). But researchers (e.g. Chambel, &Curral, 2005; Pines, 1993) contest the validity of studies that limited burnout to human service professionals only, and have instead reformulated the concept of burnout to include non-working population such as students who are involved in activities that are mentally and physically tasking. Conceptualized this way, students may be viewed as a class of individuals who are at a high risk for academic burnout because of the tendency to experience a high motivation for academic success.

Evidence of this expanded approach to the study of burnout is evident in studies that have equated studying to earn a degree to working at a job, such that students, much like employees, are thought to experience certain amount of pressures in pursuit of academic goals similar to employees experiences related to job performance (Schaufeli, Martinez, Pinto, Salanova, & Bakker, 2002). Within school context therefore, burnout may be expressed as feeling exhausted because of study demands, feeling a sense of detachment from school work, and feeling incapable, or incompetent as a student (Schaufeli et al. 2002).

The quest for post-secondary education has increased significantly today leading to a situation in which there are more males and females entering into institutions of higher learning after their secondary education compared to previous era. Interestingly, several features characterize studying as an undergraduate. Undergraduates must learn to cope with different teaching methods, they have to adjust their study habits, and rearrange their priorities, and they lack sufficient time to relax. These issues tend to become more complex in the final year class and may be potentially stressful for final year students. But since males and females tend to utilize different coping strategies to resolve problems, there may be differences in how male and female students react to academic stressors. This study is an attempt to investigate whether gender differences exist in academic burnout among final year students in a university.

Investigations into gender-burnout relationship have largely produced mixed results not only in terms of magnitude but also in the direction of the relationship. Galan, Sanmartin, Polo, and Giner (2011) investigated whether gender had any significant association with burnout among freshmen, and found no significant correlation between gender and indices of school burnout. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.