Mount Allison psychology graduate earns research award at regional conference

14 Jun 2021
Hannah James examines burnout and job satisfaction in a university setting


2021 honours psychology graduate Hannah James earned top honours for her research at this spring’s Science Atlantic Regional Psychology Conference. James received an undergraduate research award at virtual conference held this May.

James’ research study, entitled, Burnout and Job Satisfaction in a University Context: Does Self-Compassion Matter?, interviewed over 100 Mount Allison University employees from across campus to determine the role self-compassion could play in burnout and job satisfaction in a university context.

“There’s been quite a bit of research on self-compassion in the healthcare sector, I wanted to focus my studies on a new occupation, university employees,” says James. “We know that chronic work-related stress can lead to burnout in any field. Building on past research, my survey found that while self-compassion is not directly related to job satisfaction, it does appear to play a role, for the better, in this workplace sector through mindfulness, self-kindness, and common humanity.”

For her study, James interviewed university personnel across campus ranging in age from early 20s to 60s, using an online survey. Results suggested that self-compassion may have a role to play in reducing stress and burnout and that additional training programs in these areas could be beneficial in the post-secondary workplace sector. James’ study also showed that overall employees were highly engaged and satisfied in their work at the university.

James’s research thesis was supervised by Mount Allison psychology professor Dr. Louise Wasylkiw. A former nurse, Wasylkiw has been studying self-compassion for a number of years and has published research in several peer-reviewed journals on the topic.

“It was wonderful to supervise Hannah’s research and see her interest grow as she learned more over the course of the study. While self-compassion has been looked at extensively in fields such as healthcare, looking at it in the context of a university setting gives a unique perspective,” says Wasylkiw. “Her ability to talk about her findings beyond her formal presentation is exceptional and shows a clear understanding of the knowledge gained from the study. I’m looking forward to following Hannah’s research news as she continues her education this fall.”

James and Wasylkiw are preparing to submit the study for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

James began her studies in Commerce at Mount Allison before moving to psychology. She graduated in May with an honours degree in psychology, minor in Canadian studies and is continuing her studies at Ryerson University this fall, enrolled in the Master’s of Science in Management focusing on Organizational Behaviour.

Originally from Halifax, NS, it was a neighbourhood connection that led James to Mount Allison.

“Two of my neighbours (Meghan O’Neill and Ian Sutherland) went to Mount Allison in the 1990s. They met there and shared lots about their experiences at Mount A. This was one of the reasons I decided on Mount Allison,” says James.

Outside her studies at Mount Allison, James was also involved in Global Brigades, Habitat for Humanity, CIBC Run for Cure, the East Coast Student Leadership Conference, and The Pitch entrepreneurship competition. She worked as a teacher’s assistant in psychology, a research assistant, and was a member of the Psychology and Canadian Studies student societies.

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