This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Teaching Diversity: An Exploration of the Experience of Instructors Teaching Diversity Courses to Mental Health Professionals




Messer, Mary Anne

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The current study explored the experiences of instructors who teach diversity/multiculturism classes to students training to become a mental health professional. More specifically, the current study examined the reported experiences of student incivility, reported engagement in self-care, reported perceived supervisor support, and subsequent reported experience of burnout. The current study sought to understand these relationships and how they might differ across race and ethnicity at the group level. Participants were recruited from accredited counseling, psychology, and social work program directors via email and through various email-based listservs that are specific to those teaching or interested in diversity and inclusion (e.g., DIVERSGRAD). A demographics questionnaire was used to assess important information about the sample and was used to account for demographic variables in the analysis. The measure for student incivility was the Perceived Supervisor Support (Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988). The measure for self-care was a measure created specifically for this study with the purpose of being culturally responsive to the construct of self-care. The measure for supervisor support was the Perceived Supervisor Support (Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988). Finally, the measure for burnout was Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educator Survey (MBI-ES; Maslach et al.,1996). The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to conduct the analyses. A hierarchical linear regression analysis was used in the current study to test the hypotheses. The results suggest that experiencing greater student incivility statistically predicted greater reported levels of burnout. Receiving more reported supervisor support statistically predicted less reported burnout. Engaging in more self-care predicted less burnout, however, incivility moderated the relationship between self-care and burnout. Specifically, this relationship was only found for instructors in low incivility classrooms. For instructors in high incivility classrooms, greater engagement in self-care was not significantly associated with reported burnout. It was also true that instructors of Color reported higher levels of burnout than instructors that did not identify as people of Color. These results provide descriptive information to individuals in higher education regarding experiences with burnout and highlight the importance of structural support for those instructors teaching courses on diversity.