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Exploring Burnout among Graduate Teaching Assistants

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Graduate Student Support

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Michael R. Berta Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Berta provides a well rounded perspective to higher education organizations. He holds a BA in Organizational Psychology, MA in eEducation, and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership specializing in curriculum and instruction with specific concentration in distance education quality. An educational leader with 20 years of experience accomplishing strategic goals in higher education through technology, design, education, and innovation. Mike is the Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence working within the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach Campus.

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James J. Pembridge Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Burnout is a psychological phenomenon associated with exhaustion and cynicism with a particular task or job. Burnout has been identified as one of the leading causes of attrition among early-career tenure-track faculty and mid-career malaise among tenured faculty. For tenure/tenure-track faculty, this burnout can be attributed to faculty balancing their career requirements of research and teaching. However, this concept of burnout has not be readily examined among the graduate teaching assistants. Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), operate in an environment where they not only fulfill the role of educator and researcher, but they are also an actively enrolled student. The purpose of this study is to characterize how GTAs experience burnout and identify which factors are related to burnout. Participants of this study include a cohort of GTAs who participated in a teaching assistant development learning community. They include both Master’s and Doctoral students, whose responsibility vary from lab monitors to instructors of record. The study utilizes a mixed-method design where GTAs initially completed a survey and open response reflection statement and later participated in interviews and focus groups. The survey included items that addressed their responsibilities as a GTA and a previously validated burnout instrument, the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI). The open-response reflection statements were thematically coded to identify common themes among participants and how thy related to the survey responses. Findings indicate that a majority of the surveyed GTAs experience burnout as it relates to exhaustion and engagement. The most common tasks associated with that burnout were attributed to direct instruction and providing students with feedback.

Berta, M. R., & Pembridge, J. J. (2019, June), Exploring Burnout among Graduate Teaching Assistants Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32802

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