The syndrome of burnout among Iranian university professors teaching TEFL

2016 IJRSP – Volume 5 Issue 1


Entezari, Maryam
Department of English, Khorasan e Razavi Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur, Iran (

Ghafournia, Narjes*
Department of English, Neyshabur Branch, Islamic Azad University, Neyshabur, Iran (


This study aimed at finding out whether the role of a teacher in a classroom influences the level of burnout s/he may experience. The teacher’s role was investigated in the light of Goffman’s Footing theory, according to which the role is classified into three categories of animator, author, and principal. Goffman (1981) believed that an animator is a person who exactly repeats the ideas expressed by the others; an author paraphrases the statement, and the principal is a person who explains her/his original opinions. A total of 30 university professors teaching TEFL at BA and MA levels were chosen and filled Maslach’s Burnout Inventory to measure their level of burnout in terms of three subscales of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal achievement. In addition, a metaphor checklist was given to their students who were asked to select among 21 metaphors, the ones representing animator, author, and principal roles that appropriately described the role of each of the 30 professors. The findings indicated that burnout was lower in the professors who adopted the principal role and higher in those who took on the animator and author roles respectively. The results offer pedagogical implications for the university context.

Keywords: burnout; footing theory; emotional exhaustion; depersonalization; personal accomplishment; metaphor



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