Michael Spittle, Peter Kremer, Steven Sullivan

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This study examined the levels of burnout among secondary school physical education teachers. Specifically, it tested whether levels of burnout differed for teachers according to their age and gender. A cross-sectional survey of 49 (41% male) physical education  teachers,  aged 25 to 63 (M = 37.0, SD = 8.7 yrs), was used to collect personal and school specific information and reported levels of burnout on dimensions of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and personal accomplishment using the Maslach Burnout Inventor. The results indicated that overall, physical education teachers reported moderate, low and low-moderate levels of burnout on emotional exhaustion (M = 21.0), depersonalisation (M = 4.7), and personal accomplishment (M = 38.6) dimensions respectively. Burnout scores did not differ for gender and only scores on the personal accomplishment dimension differed for age, with younger teachers reporting lower levels of accomplishment, indicative of higher burnout. No significant Gender x Age Group interactions were observed for either the emotional exhaustion or personal accomplishment dimensions but the effect was significant for the depersonalisation dimension; younger male teachers reported higher scores (moderate level) for depersonalisation than older male teachers (low level), while both younger and older female teachers reported equally low scores (low levels). The findings indicate that younger physical education teachers experience moderate levels of burnout and this seems to be particularly true for young male teachers. The training of physical education teachers should consider how to best prepare teachers to cope with the demands they face as they move into teaching.

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