Burnout and engagement of student leaders in a higher education institution
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Extensive research on burnout in different occupational fields has taken place internationally. However, no studies on students at higher education institutions in South Africa have been performed. The objective of this research was to standardise the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Student Survey (MBI-SS) and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale-Student Survey (UWESSS) for student leaders in a South African university. Further objectives included empirically determining the relationships between burnout and engagement on the one hand, and work stress, optimism, individual and organisational commitment on the other. In so doing the researchers would be able to advise higher education institutions on how they could help with preventing burnout in student leaders, as well as enhancing the work engagement of these student leaders. A cross-sectional survey design was used. The entire population of student leaders were involved (N=196). The population of student leaders consisted of student leaders of 22 different House Committees and the Students' Representative Council. The Maslach Burnout Inventory-Student Survey and the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale-Student Survey, Life Orientation Test Revised, Attitudes Towards Your Organisation Survey and Position Characteristics Survey were administered. Descriptive and interferential statistics were used to analyse the data. The results obtained for MBI-SS proved this measuring instrument to be reliable and valid. By using the structural equation modelling approach a three-dimensional factor structure for burnout among student leaders emerged which supported earlier conceptions in this regard. The same applies to the UWES-SS. The results showed that for the Burnout model Emotional Exhaustion was best predicted by Overload, Cynicism by Job Demands and Professional Eficacy by Resources. For the Engagement model Absorption was best predicted by Recources and Dedication and Vigour were best predicted by Optimism.