This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Relationship Between Teacher Burnout and Principal Leadership Style




Pritchett, KeLeigh

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between principal leadership style and perceived teacher motivation and burnout in a specific region of Alabama in various elementary, middle, and high schools. In particular, there is interest between the increase in motivation in relation to principals’ various leadership styles. This study incorporated data collected through surveys from elementary, middle, and high schools from the Phenix City School System, the Pike County School System, the Troy City School System, and Glenwood School (private) in south Alabama. Teachers completed a survey on their perceived levels of motivation as well as their perceived levels of burnout. This study used an adaptation of a study by Charlotte Gilbar, a doctoral student at Lynchburg College, and is quantitative in nature. Her surveys, as well as contact letters, provided excellent examples but were modified for this data collection. However, this study varies from Ms. Gilbar’s in a few ways. In the initial study, separate unique surveys were administered to the principals and teachers. In this study, only teachers completed a survey. In addition, Ms. Gilbar’s study was larger in nature and surveyed principals and teachers employed at focus schools, schools performing between the fifth and fifteenth percentile (Gilbar, 2015). The use of voluntary response and nonrandom sampling identified participants in this study. As for the specific design of the study, a Pearson Correlation was used. The first portion of the survey, the MLQ, was developed from Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. This theory states that leaders bear certain personality traits and characteristics that govern the actions and behaviors of other people (Nazim, 2016). The second portion of the survey, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), assesses emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment. It also assesses educators’ feelings on their work, their students, and their ideas on success. Responses to this survey's 22 questions are on a 7-point Likert scale and should be answered based on how often the individual experiences feelings associated with that item (Maslach, 1976). The results of this study show that principal leadership style, as perceived by the teacher, does correlate with teacher burnout. However, in reference to this study, there was not as large of a correlation as expected. According to a study by Eyal and Roth (2011), transformational leadership significantly decreased the teacher burnout rate and improved the measures of teachers’ personal motivation. Research showed that educators in the systems surveyed are only experiencing a moderate degree of occupational exhaustion or burnout. However, they are experiencing a low degree of personal accomplishment which is disheartening. Collaboration between school board officials, administration, and educators is needed to make improvements in this area. When one does not see purpose in his or her work, it is difficult to remain motivated to continue and not feel burnt out. Most importantly, motivated teachers yield classrooms with higher levels of motivation. This not only affects childhood learning but adult learning as well. School is designed to prepare students for real-world scenarios (Kotinsky, 1933). Therefore, “Poor schools for children make poor men for constructive living and learning in adulthood” (Kotinsky, 1933, p. 15).