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The Link between Coping Style and Burnout among Special Education Teachers for Children with Learning Difficulties

Keywords: coping style , burnout , teacher , special school

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Abstract:

German special education teachers are confronted with a high workload in special schools. There is some knowledge about the factors concerning the teachers’ workload and the prevalence of burnout in teachers; however, there are only few research studies examining coping strategies used by special education teachers in special schools. This study examined coping strategies with 234 special education teachers who worked in special schools for children with learning difficulties. Three hypotheses about the relationship between burnout symptoms and coping style were posed: (1) the more inadequate coping strategies are used, the higher is the amount of subjectively experienced workload, (2) the coping strategy “depressive reaction pattern” is related to the burnout symptom “emotional exhaustion”, and (3) an inadequate coping style leads to a higher amount of days absent. Strength of burnout was assessed by the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), while the coping style was assessed with an abbreviated form of the Utrecht Coping List (UCL). Results confirmed clear relations between coping strategies and the experienced workload. The more inadequate the coping style the higher is the experienced workload. The burnout symptom “emotional exhaustion” was explained due to the coping strategy “depressive reaction pattern”. Moreover, results indicate that the amount of days absent was related to a teacher’s coping style. Teachers with inadequate coping strategies were twice as much absent than teachers with an adequate coping strategy. Implications and future research will be discussed with a focus on preventing teacher burnout.

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