Pi Phi Chapter

Civility in Nursing Education

Nursing Research on the Green

2013 Abstract

Shirley Newberry, PhD, RN; Ana Schaper, PhD, RN Dawn Steffes, Research Associate; Gundersen Lutheran, Winona State University

  • Background:  Clark (2009) extends the definition of incivility to incorporate both the behaviors (rude and disruptive) and their effect, that is, psychological or physiological distress.
  • Significance:  Academic incivility encompasses behaviors that disrupt or interfere with the teaching and learning environment (Clark & Springer, 2010). Incivility can progress from low risk behaviors, such as eye rolling to develop into threatening behaviors if left unaddressed. Incivility in nursing education is documented as a mild to moderate problem that increases with personal and environmental stressors.
  • Purpose/objective:  To determine the degree of Incivility in Nursing Education at this particular School of Nursing. 
  • Methods/project:  Undergraduate students and faculty at a Midwest university were asked to complete the Incivility in Higher Education scale.
  • Results:  The majority of students and faculty identified disruptive student behavior as a mild problem, 56% and 54% respectively. Disruptive faculty behavior was perceived by students as no problem (41%) or a mild problem (45%). Faculty perceived disruptive faculty behaviors as mild (56%) or moderate problem (32%). Each term cohort reported unique contributors to student incivility. Term 2 students reported being treated unfairly, not respected. In response, students act out defensively and may be unaware of appropriate respectful behavior toward faculty. Term 3 students identified ineffective teaching style as a major contributor to uncivil behavior, reporting that faculty was "out of touch" requiring long hours of classroom work. Term 4 students reported feeling belittled and disrespected by both peers and faculty. Responses on how to create a culture of civility included increased awareness of uncivil and bullying behaviors, a committee and policy to address incivility, civility expectations to be shared in orientation and in classes, the inclusion of classes on de-stressing and coursework focused on teaching students "best practice" for handling conflicts.
  • Clinical implications:  Focused attention on creating a culture of civility needs to be a priority of every school of nursing as uncivil behaviors in nursing education may extend to incivility in the workplace.

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