Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


Stress induced burnout among special education specialists has become a concern of administrators. This study was conducted to investigate burnout among the rural itinerant and non-itinerant specialists specifically.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent of burnout among rural itinerant and non-itinerant specialists and the relationship of selected demographic and situational variables to this burnout. The relationship of role ambiguity and role conflict to burnout of this group was also investigated.

Design of the Study. The Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Role Questionnaire and a demographic/situational data sheet were mailed to rural special education specialists in North Dakota and South Dakota. Of the questionnaires sent, 307 (67.17%) were returned complete and were used in the study. The statistical tests used to analyze the data included cross-tabulations, chi squares, correlation coefficients, analysis of variance and multiple regression. The .05 level of significance was used to reject the null hypotheses.

Conclusions. The major findings of this study were: (1) Burnout was not evident in high proportions among the rural specialists. (2) Non-itinerant specialists reported significantly more intense and frequent feelings of depersonalization than itinerant specialists. (3) Significant relationships were found between burnout factors and exceptionality served. Those serving students with milder handicaps demonstrated less burnout. (4) Specialists serving students in resource rooms and self-contained placements experienced more burnout than other rural service models. (5) Older specialists and those with more years of experience reported significantly less burnout than younger specialists and those with less experience. (6) Significant relationships were found between role conflict and depersonalization and emotional exhaustion burnout scores. Role ambiguity was significantly related to personal accomplishment subscale scores. (7) No significant relationships were found between burnout factors and sex, marital status, educational level, consecutive years of special education teaching, number of schools served, miles driven per week, and number of grade levels served.