Teacher Burnout and Student Misbehavior: An Exploration of the Underlying Mechanisms

Miller, Grace, Clinical Psychology - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tolan, Patrick, CU-Human Svcs, University of Virginia

Teacher burnout is associated with a number of adverse student outcomes including increased incidence of student misbehavior (Aloe, Shisler, Norris, Nickerson, & Rinker, 2014). Although many studies have demonstrated a relation between burnout and misbehavior, nearly all have relied on teacher reports of both burnout and misbehavior making it difficult to disentangle whether burnout is associated with an observable increase in misbehavior or whether teachers experiencing burnout perceive student behavior more negatively. Furthermore, the underlying classroom processes driving the relation between burnout and misbehavior remain unclear (Aloe et al., 2014). Using Jennings and Greenberg’s (2009) theory of burnout, the present study examined whether classroom management practices and classroom peer ecology are two pathways through which teacher reported burnout and observed rates of misbehavior relate with sample of 211 elementary school classrooms. There were no significant total or direct effects between the dimensions of burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased personal accomplishment) and student misbehavior; however, a significant indirect effect was observed wherein emotional exhaustion was associated with a smaller ratio of proactive-to-reactive classroom management strategies, which in turn, was associated with increased rates of misbehavior. Findings support the proposal that the relation between burnout and misbehavior is conferred through the use of less effective classroom management strategies. Additionally, several unique patterns of simple effects emerged in the models that offer insight into the classroom processes related to burnout, classroom management practices, classroom peer ecology, and student misbehavior. Recommendations are made for future research and classroom interventions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Burnout, Elementary school teachers
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