School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Kenneth R. Tierce


Burnout, Stress, Expatriates, Teachers




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe and understand American expatriates’ perceptions of their lived experiences with burnout and stress while teaching in international schools in Southeast Asia. The theories guiding this study were Hans Selye’s (1951) theory of stress, as it explains the physiological stages of stress the body goes through, and Christine Maslach’s (1997) theory of burnout, which explains the factors associated with burnout. The present study was guided by five research questions, including a single central research question, to discover the participants’ lived experiences with stress and burnout. Four additional subquestions explored emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, decreased sense of personal accomplishment, and responses to stress in the workplace. The participants of this study were 11 American expatriates who have experienced stress and burnout in their past positions as international educators in Southeast Asia. Data collected for this study included Maslach’s Burnout Inventory for Educators (MBI-ES), individual interviews, a single focus group interview, and documents. Data were analyzed through bracketing and analysis to identify themes, and by synthesizing data to write thick, rich descriptions. The phenomenological data analysis revealed participants’ lived experiences with burnout and stress included frustration, feeling overwhelmed, and anxiety. Participants described how job expectations, workloads, and their own commitments to job performance affected them.

Included in

Education Commons