Psychological Resource Capacities (Hope, Optimism and Resilience) as Predictors of Burnout In First-Year Students at a Higher Education Institution

By Martina Kotzé and Ronel Kleynhans.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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Many students, and especially first-year students, face challenges to their well-being during their introduction to higher education, often leading to increased negative outcomes, such as burnout. This necessitates a search for possible psychological resource capacities which may have important implications for dealing with stressful and challenging situations in students' academic careers. The aim of this research was to determine whether the positive psychological resource capacities of hope, optimism, and resilience can be regarded as predictors of burnout in first year students. The sample consisted of 775 first-year Industrial Psychology students at a higher education institution. The measuring instruments included the State Hope Scale (SHS), the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R), the Adult Resilience Indicator (ARI) and Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (Student Survey). The results of the multiple regression analysis showed that Hope, Resilience and Optimism were statistically highly significant predictors of burnout. Upon further analyses the results showed that specifically Agency, a subscale of Hope, and four dimensions of resilience, Social Support, Negative Rumination and Helplessness, Religion, and Emotional Regulation were significant predictors of burnout. Based on the results of this study, it is argued that the development of these psychological resource capabilities within first year students, may produce benefits for students in terms of avoiding burnout.

Keywords: First Year Students, Burnout, Psychological Resource Capabilities, Hope, Optimism, Resilience

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp.31-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 311.168KB).

Prof. Martina Kotzé

Researcher, Business School, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Prof. Martina Kotzé is a researcher at the University of the Free State Business School and the head of the Department of Industrial Psychology. Her research interests evolve around quality of work life (including people with physical disabilities in the workplace), women, culture, context and well-being, performance, and leadership effectiveness.

Mrs. Ronel Kleynhans

Lecturer, Industrial Psychology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa