Effort–reward imbalance and job burnout in preschool teachers: A moderated mediation model

Main Article Content

Liping Guo
Mingming Huang
Yaqin Wang
Song Shi
Manhua Yang
Jing Shuai
Cite this article:  Guo, L., Huang, M., Wang, Y., Shi, S., Yang, M., & Shuai, J. (2022). Effort–reward imbalance and job burnout in preschool teachers: A moderated mediation model. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 50(1), e10284.


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To explore the impact mechanism of effort–reward imbalance on job burnout, we surveyed 2,251 preschool teachers using measures of effort–reward imbalance, job burnout, future time perspective, and positive psychological capital. The results show that effort–reward imbalance, positive psychological capital, and future time perspective were significantly related to preschool teachers’ job burnout. Future time perspective mediated the link between effort–reward imbalance and job burnout. Further, the direct effect of effort–reward imbalance on job burnout and the mediating role of future time perspective were both moderated by positive psychological capital, such that they were more significant in preschool teachers with low (vs. high) positive psychological capital. These findings offer guidance for the prevention of job burnout in preschool teachers.

With the rapid development of preschool education in China, the occupational health of preschool teachers has attracted much attention. Because preschool teachers have the dual tasks of care and education, their heavy workload and pressure, paired with low social status and income, can lead to them experiencing job burnout (X. Li et al., 2019). Job burnout refers to employees’ physical, psychological, and behavioral exhaustion caused by excess work hours, workload, and work intensity, while ignoring their own needs (L. Zhang et al., 2007). It comprises three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low sense of accomplishment (Maslach et al., 2001). Job burnout contributes significantly to reduced work efficiency and increased turnover intention among preschool teachers (X. Huang et al., 2017). In view of their shortage in China, drawing attention to the motivators and mechanisms that result in preschool teachers’ job burnout will help strengthen their resilience and retention rates.

Researchers have shown that effort–reward imbalance is a key source of professional stress that predicts job burnout (Unterbrink et al., 2012). After triggering teachers’ professional stress, continuous work pressure causes them to form negative professional cognition and experience emotional exhaustion, eventually leading to job burnout (Loerbroks et al., 2014). Because effort–reward imbalance has a negative impact on preschool teachers’ professional development, we explored possible bridging variables in the imbalance of pay and return on job burnout.

From a positive psychology perspective, the influence of future time perspective is important in assessing the effect of effort–reward imbalance on preschool teachers’ job burnout. Fasbender et al. (2019) noted that when an achievement or reward does not meet employees’ needs, their future cognition of their occupation may deviate, and their time perspective regarding career development will be reduced accordingly. This suggests that future time perspective is closely related to preschool teachers’ effort–reward imbalance and job burnout.

In addition, according to self-depletion theory (Muraven et al., 1998), internal psychological resources are limited; thus, when individuals face risks, they must mobilize them in a timely manner. If these resources are insufficient, individuals’ positive psychological qualities are reduced, which may increase their likelihood of developing mental health problems (Baumeister et al., 1998). Marchand et al. (2016) showed that regulating positive psychological capital can be regarded as a self-regulation process for individuals to mobilize their resources when dealing with external risks. Therefore, the positive effect of psychological capital on job burnout should not be underestimated (Avey et al., 2008).

Few researchers have paid attention to the comprehensive mechanism of these variables; therefore, we examined the mechanism by which effort–reward imbalance affects job burnout, and we analyzed future time perspective as a mediator and positive psychological capital as a moderator of this relationship.

Effect of Effort–Reward Imbalance on Job Burnout

Effort–reward imbalance (ERI) emphasizes the inequality between costs and gains in the professional context and is used to determine the adverse effects of a stressful psychosocial work environment (e.g., high work pressure) and employment conditions (e.g., job insecurity) on employees’ mental and emotional health (Ren et al., 2019). ERI violates the principle of reciprocity in a social exchange situation: Because the brain is very sensitive to unequal experiences during social exchange, repeated occurrence of high effort and low reward will activate the brain’s frustration reward mechanisms, increasing negative emotions and the risk of stress-related illnesses, such as coronary heart disease and depression (Siegrist, 2016). Bakker et al. (2000) showed that high job requirements (high external effort) and poor career prospects (low external reward; e.g., inadequate salary, low promotion chances, low sense of security, little recognition or respect for excellent performance) lead to the depletion of employees’ emotional resources, eventually leading to job burnout.

Further, Unterbrink et al. (2007) found that compared with enterprise employees, the ERI of German teachers was more prominent, such that over 20% of teachers reported a sense of work effort far greater than their perceived work reward. This imbalance is associated with a high risk of development of burnout symptoms and an increased likelihood of premature retirement. Koch et al. (2017) found in a longitudinal study that childcare workers high ERI, with 87.4% reporting an ERI ratio greater than 1 (M = 1.3), indicating that their sense of effort expended was greater than their sense of received rewards. Thus, ERI increases burnout among childcare workers and educators (Backhaus et al., 2018). Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Effort–reward imbalance will be positively associated with job burnout among preschool teachers.

The Mediating Effect of Future Time Perspective in the Link Between Effort–Reward Imbalance and Job Burnout

Future time perspective is related to individuals’ cognitive ability to plan and practice self-development through their cognition and experience of time (Lens, 1986). Teahan and Kastenbaum (1970) reported that individuals with a future time perspective can construct a reasonable career plan, put it into action, and achieve career success. Y.-R. Wang and Cheng (2016) found that students’ future time perspective and time management lessen their difficulties in learning, reducing their burnout. Liang et al. (2017) showed that college graduates with stronger (vs. weaker) future time perspectives have a clearer self-development orientation that includes engaging in more well-defined career planning, displaying higher work efficiency and decision-making accuracy, and having a higher sense of meaning and happiness in life. Research on prospective English teachers has shown that future time perspective is related to intrinsic career value, career choice satisfaction, the perception of being highly valued, and achievement of expected goals (Eren & Tezel, 2010), resulting in lower job burnout (Park et al., 2020). In particular, when preschool teachers focus on future time perspective and plan their teaching themes over a long period of time, the value of education is often greater (Alvestad & Sheridan, 2015).

In contrast, when individuals’ future time perspective is low, negative emotions such as high fatigue and burnout are produced (Song et al., 2013). Thus, according to conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll & Schumm, 2009), future time perspective is a valuable personal resource that buffers the adverse effects of employees’ burnout, leading to more favorable appraisals of their job (Akirmak & Ayla, 2021). It is further pointed out in cognitive motivation theory (Cacioppo et al., 1996) that as effort–reward imbalance reduces individuals’ interest in improving or maintaining their work performance and weakens their motivation to plan career development, it leads to a declining interest in work and to the consequences of job burnout, such as emotional exhaustion (Simons et al., 2004). Thus, ERI is associated with future time perspective and job burnout, and future time perspective is associated with job burnout. Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: Future time perspective will mediate the relationship between effort–reward imbalance and job burnout among preschool teachers.

The Moderating Role of Positive Psychological Capital

Positive psychological capital refers to individuals having a favorable psychological state in growth and development. It comprises four dimensions: self-efficacy, optimism, resilience, and hope (K. Zhang et al., 2010). Positive psychological capital is a self-regulation process whereby individuals mobilize their internal resources to manage external risks (Marchand et al., 2016). Researchers have shown that positive psychological capital is closely related to individuals’ physical and mental health as well as their work attitude, and that it moderates the relationship between occupational stress and job burnout (Zhao, 2019). Employees with low positive psychological capital are more significantly affected by job burnout (Liu & Fu, 2013), whereas those with high positive psychological capital are more likely to receive emotional and social support outside the organization, enhancing their ability to handle risk; therefore, their job burnout is usually lower (Avey et al., 2008).

Researchers have also suggested that employees’ positive psychological capital is positively correlated with favorable work performance (Luthans et al., 2007). Employees with high (vs. low) positive psychological capital have higher self-efficacy, hope, optimism, resilience, and more positive expectations of their life and career prospects (Abubakar et al., 2019). They tend to be more confident, believe that they will have a positive experience in a professional setting, be bold in accepting challenges, and adhere to their goals (West et al., 2009), which may lead to a future time perspective (Abubakar et al., 2019). Thus, we proposed that as preschool teachers with high positive psychological capital possess more internal psychological resources to cope with the risk of pay–return imbalance, they would avoid job burnout and reduce the negative impact of imbalance through their future time perspective. Therefore, we proposed the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 3: Positive psychological capital will moderate the mediating effect of future time perspective on the relationship between effort–reward imbalance and preschool teachers’ job burnout.

The research model is shown in Figure 1.

Table/Figure

Figure 1. Research Model

Method

Participants and Procedure

Teaching and research staff in the Department of Education of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China, and education staff at Northwest Normal University, China, examined the online survey that we developed for this study and found no ethical violations.

Using cluster sampling, we recruited 2,284 preschool teachers working in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. We first obtained consent from the schools’ principals, explained the purpose and significance of our research, and asked the principals to convey the importance of this research to the teachers. No compensation was offered to participants, who volunteered and provided informed consent. They completed the anonymous survey on their cell phone and were given the option of contacting us by email to obtain the final research report.

Of 2,284 questionnaires distributed, 2,251 valid responses were returned. Participants comprised 124 men and 2,127 women (Mage = 31.69 years, SD = 9.90, range = 20–60). Of the preschool teachers, 852 were rural teachers, 855 were town teachers (i.e., working in a small city, similar to a country town), and 544 were urban teachers, (i.e., working in a larger city, similar to a provincial capital).

Measures

All measures were translated into Chinese.

Effort–Reward Imbalance
Effort–reward imbalance was measured with 22 items from Siegrist’s (1996) scale, which comprises three dimensions: effort (e.g., “Owing to my heavy workload, I have continuous time pressure”), reward (e.g., “This job has earned me the respect of my boss”), and overcommitment (e.g., “When I go to bed, I am still thinking about work”). Items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with higher scores indicating greater effort–reward imbalance. Cronbach’s alpha was .83 in this study.

Future Time Perspective
Future time perspective was measured with 14 items from the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999). A sample item is “I will fully measure the costs and benefits before making a decision.” Items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with higher scores indicating a stronger future time perspective. Cronbach’s alpha was .88 in this study.

Positive Psychological Capital
Positive psychological capital was measured with 26 items based on K. Zhang et al.’s (2010) scale, which comprises four dimensions: self-efficacy (e.g., “Many people appreciate my talent”), optimism (e.g., “When things are uncertain, I always expect good results”), resilience (e.g., “In times of adversity, I actively try different strategies”), and hope (e.g., “I think the future is full of hope”). Items are rated on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree, with higher scores indicating greater positive psychological capital. Cronbach’s alpha was .79 in this study.

Job Burnout
We measured job burnout based on Schaufeli et al.’s (1996) 16-item measure, which was translated by C. S.-K. Li (2003). The items are divided across three dimensions: emotional exhaustion (e.g., “Work makes me feel exhausted”), dehumanization (e.g., “I treat some students and colleagues as emotionless objects”), and low sense of achievement (e.g., “I feel like I can’t do anything with all my strength”). Items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = never to 5 = always, with higher scores indicating greater job burnout. Cronbach’s alpha was .78 in this study.

Control Variables
We controlled for gender, age, and preschool location (see Table 2).

Results

Common Method Variance Test

Harman’s single-factor test was used to assess common method variance. Results show that the eigenvalues of the five factors were greater than 1, and the variance explained by the first factor was 17.73%, which is less than the 40% critical value threshold (Podsakoff et al., 2003). Thus, there was no obvious common method bias in this study.

Table 1. Descriptive Statistics and Correlation Coefficients

Table/Figure

Note. ** p < .01.

Moderated Mediation Effects Test

Following Wen and Ye’s (2014) method for testing moderated mediation models, we used the PROCESS macro for SPSS, extracted 5,000 resamples for a bootstrapping analysis and calculating 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to test our proposed model.

The first step was to test the mediating effect. After controlling for gender, age, and preschool location, we examined the mediating effect of future time perspective in the relationship between ERI and preschool teachers’ job burnout. The results in Table 2 show that the effect of the control variables was not significant, the direct effect of ERI on preschool teachers’ job burnout was significant, β = .60, 95% CI [0.53, 0.70], and the mediating effect of future time perspective was significant, β = –.20, 95% CI [0.01, 0.02]. Thus, ERI directly predicted job burnout and also indirectly affected job burnout through future time perspective. Therefore, Hypotheses 1 and 2 were supported.

Table 2. Mediating Effects Test Results

Table/Figure

Note. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.

Having established the mediating effects model, we then tested the moderating role of positive psychological capital. Results show that after we had added positive psychological capital to the model, the product of ERI × positive psychological capital had a significant predictive effect on job burnout and future time perspective, indicating that positive psychological capital simultaneously regulated the influence of ERI on future time perspective and on job burnout (see Table 3). Therefore, positive psychological capital significantly moderated both the indirect and direct mediating paths between ERI and job burnout, forming a moderated mediation effect model. Thus, Hypothesis 3 was supported.

Table 3. Moderated Mediation Effects Test Results

Table/Figure

Note. N = 2,284. CI = confidence interval.
* p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.

Results of a simple slope test show that for preschool teachers with high positive psychological capital, neither future time perspective, β = .01, t = 0.14, p = .885, nor job burnout, β = .23, t = 1.76, p = .068, showed a significant change with an increase in ERI. For preschool teachers with moderate positive psychological capital, future time perspective decreased significantly, β = –.07, t = –2.31, p = .021, and job burnout increased significantly, β = .34, t = 2.86, p = .020, with an increase in ERI. For teachers with low positive psychological capital, future time perspective decreased significantly, β = –.19, t = –5.44, p = .001, and job burnout increased significantly, β = .41, t = 4.18, p = .001, with an increase in ERI. Therefore, positive psychological capital had a significant moderating effect on the preschool teachers’ ERI, future time perspective, and job burnout relationships (see Figures 2 and 3). Thus, Hypothesis 3 was supported.

Table/Figure

Figure 2. Simple Slope Chart of the Moderating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital in the Relationship Between Effort–Reward Imbalance and Future Time Perspective

Table/Figure

Figure 3. Simple Slope Diagram of the Moderating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital in the Relationship Between Effort–Reward Imbalance and Job Burnout

Discussion

We constructed a moderated mediation model to investigate the mediating role of future time perspective in the relationship between preschool teachers’ ERI and job burnout, and examined whether this effect was moderated by positive psychological capital. Our findings have theoretical and practical significance for interventions to reduce preschool teachers’ job burnout.

Theoretical Implications

First, we have highlighted the important role of ERI and the significant positive relationship between ERI imbalance and preschool teachers’ job burnout, whereby those with low (vs. high) ERI have lower job burnout. A possible reason for this finding is that when there is a serious effort–reward imbalance, because teachers need to expend more effort and resources to complete a task, they experience higher work pressure, which leads to job burnout (Loerbroks et al., 2014).

Second, we found that future time perspective was a key factor underlying preschool teachers’ positive adaptation associated with low ERI. As preschool teachers with high ERI often face heavy workloads, they have a strong sense of time restraints when achieving work goals, which has a negative impact on their future time perspective. The Job Demand–Control (–Support) Model (Van der Doef & Maes, 1999) also shows that employees who make continuous work effort without sufficient reward tend to have lower job interest and weaker goal motivation. This leads to lower time insight and poorer time management, which generates burnout regarding job achievement or involvement (L. Huang & Xu, 2014).

We also showed that future time perspective passively affected job burnout. According to social emotional choice theory (Carstensen et al., 1999), when individuals’ time perception is limited, their emotional goals are dominant, and other types of goals (e.g., individual career goals) are disregarded. If handled improperly, this narrow focus can lead to emotional and mental health problems (Cheng et al., 2016), including job burnout (Loerbroks et al., 2014). Therefore, future time perspective plays a bridging role between ERI and job burnout.

Finally, we found that positive psychological capital negatively moderated both the direct effect of ERI on preschool teachers’ job burnout and the mediating effect of future time perspective in this link. We found that teachers with medium or low positive psychological capital experienced significantly more job burnout when ERI was high. This is consistent with previous results showing that positive psychological capital weakens the ego-depletion effect (Baumeister et al., 1998). A possible reason for this finding is that positive psychological capital helps maintain individuals’ physical and mental health, which buffers or weakens the adverse effect of other environmental risk factors on teachers’ burnout, and benefits those who experience ERI (Liu & Fu, 2013). In addition, from the positive psychology theory perspective (Gable & Haidt, 2005), the characteristics of positive psychological capital (e.g., hope, self-confidence, tenacity) will amplify or enhance the positive impact of individual resource factors (e.g., future time perspective) on individual career adaptation (e.g., job burnout; Jiang, 2019), which will benefit those with a higher future time perspective. Teachers with higher positive psychological capital can maintain a positive attitude toward a work environment lacking in support even when they experience ERI or lack of vision, thereby reducing the onset of job burnout and other mental health difficulties (Devonish, 2017).

Practical Implications

Preschool teachers’ job burnout is affected by many factors. In contrast to previous researchers’ focus on the impact of individual risk factors or protective factors on job burnout, we not only comprehensively revealed the influencing mechanism of preschool teachers’ job burnout from the internal risk perspective (psychological and personality factors) but also revealed the external risk factors, which is an important supplement to the literature. This contribution has practical implications for the design of interventions to reduce job burnout among preschool teachers.

First, regarding the external risk environment, the relationship between preschool teachers’ ERI and job burnout suggests the value of ensuring that they have a sense of return on the effort invested in their job. Therefore, the government, local functional departments, and preschool managers should monitor the current working state of preschool teachers, and aim to improve their treatment and social status to reduce ERI. This will help prevent preschool teachers’ job burnout and reduce the direct negative impact of ERI on job burnout, thus improving their working state.

Second, from a time management perspective, preschool teachers’ accurate insight into planning is important for protecting their mental health and preventing job burnout. Therefore, preschool teachers should work to attain time awareness and career planning, arrange their working hours in an orderly manner, and strictly adhere to their work goals to complete their tasks and reduce the probability of negative outcomes, such as job burnout.

Finally, from the perspective of the self-regulatory mechanism of positive psychological capital, preschool teachers should strive to maintain positive psychological qualities, such as hope, tenacity, optimism, and self-confidence. When encountering effort and reward inequality, preschool teachers should adopt a positive attitude and actively adjust their mentality and practice, thus reducing the serious negative impact caused by ERI.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

There are limitations in this study. First, participants were from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where the economic level is relatively low and the treatment of these teachers is usually poorer than elsewhere in China (Zheng et al., 2021). Thus, our results may be applicable only to ethnic minority areas in Western China or to areas in other countries with similar economic development and cultural environment. Second, women accounted for over 94% of participants, which is consistent with this gender predominance in teaching roles throughout China but does not facilitate generalization of our findings to preschool teachers of other genders. Third, our research model was relatively simple. We tested a moderated mediation model that comprised only the mediating role of future time perspective and the moderating role of positive psychological capital. There may be a more complex effect mechanism between ERI and job burnout.

We suggest three directions for future researchers: First, preschool teachers in other parts of China could be recruited as participants to help increase the generalizability of our results. Second, because of the influence of cultural norms and the traditional concept of social division of labor, men (vs. women) may face greater pressure as preschool teachers and their causes of job burnout may be different. As men in China are strongly encouraged to join the ranks of preschool teachers (Su & Zheng, 2010), their job burnout should be examined, and more in-depth qualitative research approaches may need to be adopted. Third, relevant organizational factors, such as head teachers’ management style, teachers’ family relationships, the professional workplace atmosphere, teachers’ alienation behavior, and family–work conflict, may also affect job burnout. Therefore, it would be advantageous for future researchers to take these factors into account.

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Song, G., Bao, W., & He, W. (2013). Learning burnout and its relationship with future time perspective and achievement goal orientation among middle school students [In Chinese]. Studies of Psychology and Behavior, 11(4), 478–482.

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https://doi.org/10.28273/n.cnki.ngmrb.2010.003094

Teahan, J., & Kastenbaum, R. (1970). Subjective life expectancy and future time perspective as predictors of job success in the “hard-core unemployed.” Omega - Journal of Death and Dying, 1(3), 189–200.
https://doi.org/10.2190/98e8-byle-df5k-ewpv

Unterbrink, T., Hack, A., Pfeifer, R., Buhl-Grießhaber, V., Müller, U., Wesche, H., … Bauer, J. (2007). Burnout and effort–reward-imbalance in a sample of 949 German teachers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 80(5), 433–441.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-007-0169-0

Unterbrink, T., Pfeifer, R., Krippeit, L., Zimmermann, L., Rose, U., Joos, A., … Bauer, J. (2012). Burnout and effort–reward imbalance improvement for teachers by a manual-based group program. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 85(6), 667–674.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-011-0712-x

Van der Doef, M., & Maes, S. (1999). The Job Demand-Control (-Support) model and psychological well-being: A review of 20 years of empirical research. Work & Stress, 13(2), 87–114.
https://doi.org/10.1080/026783799296084

Wang, Y.-R., & Cheng, Z.-H. (2016). Mediating effect of future time perspective between academic self-efficacy and learning burnout among high school students [In Chinese]. Modern Preventive Medicine, 14, 2685–2688.

Wen, Z., & Ye, B. (2014). Different methods for testing moderated mediation models: Competitors or backups [In Chinese]? Acta Psychologica Sinica, 46(5), 714–726.
https://doi.org/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2014.00714

West, B. J., Patera, J. L., & Carsten, M. K. (2009). Team level positivity: Investigating positive psychological capacities and team level outcomes. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30(2), 249–267.
https://doi.org/10.1002/job.593

Zhang, K., Zhang, S., & Dong, Y. (2010). Positive psychological capital: Measurement and relationship with mental health [In Chinese]. Studies of Psychology and Behavior, 8(1), 58–64. https://bit.ly/3FCkhop

Zhang, L., Wang, D., & Bai, X. (2007). Recent progress in the study of the influencing factors of foreign teachers’ job burnout [In Chinese]. Psychological Science, 30(2), 492–494.
https://doi.org/10.16719/j.cnki.1671-6981.2007.02.065

Zhao, C. (2019). The current situation of teachers’ professional psychological capital in higher vocational colleges, and their relationship with job performance [In Chinese]. Think Tank Era, 51, 66–69.

Zheng, Y., Zhou, W., & Shi, W. (2021). The practical dilemma and breakthrough path for the construction of teaching staff of inclusive private kindergartens in contiguous poor areas of Western China. Teacher Education Research, 33(1), 75–98.
https://doi.org/10.13445/j.cnki.t.e.r.2021.01.012

Zimbardo, P. G., & Boyd, J. N. (1999). Putting time in perspective: A valid, reliable individual-differences metric. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1271–1288.
https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1271

Table/Figure

Figure 1. Research Model


Table 1. Descriptive Statistics and Correlation Coefficients

Table/Figure

Note. ** p < .01.


Table 2. Mediating Effects Test Results

Table/Figure

Note. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.


Table 3. Moderated Mediation Effects Test Results

Table/Figure

Note. N = 2,284. CI = confidence interval.
* p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.


Table/Figure

Figure 2. Simple Slope Chart of the Moderating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital in the Relationship Between Effort–Reward Imbalance and Future Time Perspective


Table/Figure

Figure 3. Simple Slope Diagram of the Moderating Effect of Positive Psychological Capital in the Relationship Between Effort–Reward Imbalance and Job Burnout


This research was supported by the 2019 Ningxia Philosophy and Social Sciences (Pedagogy) Planning Project

Research on the promotion mechanism of preschool education teachers&rsquo

professional attraction in Ningxia (19NXJB06).

Liping Guo, School of Education, Northwest Normal University, 967 Anning East Road, Lanzhou 730070, People’s Republic of China. Email: [email protected]

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