Managing Student Incivility and Misconduct In Nursing Education

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Nursing Education and Managing Student Incivility and Misconduct

Managing Student Incivility and Misconduct In Nursing Education

Managing Student Incivility and Misconduct in the Learning Environment In Nursing Education, Incivility in the Higher Education Environment In Nursing Education, A Continuum of Misconduct From Student In Nursing Education.

Managing Student Incivility and Misconduct in the Learning Environment In Nursing Education

    On today’s campuses of higher education, there appears to be increasing incidence of incivility among students (Clark & Springer, 2007; Luparell & Frisbee, 2014). When preparing a learning environment for students and faculty, how can faculty ensure that it is one that is safe and productive for all, one in which a quality teaching and learning experience can be provided? 

    This chapter introduces developmental, legal, and risk management issues related to classroom learning environments and methods to minimize student conduct that disrupts learning. Instructional strategies are discussed to assist faculty in achieving a robust and engaging learning environment through management of the students’ actions.

    Management of actions includes student in-class behaviors and extends to out-of-class course-related activities, both on- and off campus internships, clinical, and practicum, as well as online learning experiences. 

  Specifically, this chapter explores methods to nurture and support learning and describes effective responses for situations in which student behavior could disrupt the learning environment with an emphasis on

(1) a continuum of student misconduct.

(2) preventative strategies.

(3) proactive response strategies.

(4) effective use of campus resources.

    The learning outcomes of this chapter include gaining an understanding of problem or disruptive student behavior and an understanding of specific steps faculty can take to minimize disruptions in the learning environment. The content of this chapter is based on case law, statutory law, research, and more than 20 collective years of experience working with college students and college student misconduct. 

  As a cautionary note, it is strongly recommended that faculty consult with the administrators responsible for student conduct at their institution, their immediate supervisor, campus police, and campus legal counsel regarding issues specific to their institution.

Incivility in the Higher Education Environment In Nursing Education

    Most experienced faculty will tell you that they derive pleasure from working with students much of the time. However, on occasion, interactions between students and faculty may be somewhat uncomfortable, slightly challenging, or even distressing. Despite the “ivory tower” moniker, the academy, as a microcosm of society, is not immune to the problems of society. 

    Incivilities of various types and among various individuals can and do occur in higher education. However, this is an aspect of the teaching role that tends to surprise novice faculty and befuddles even experienced faculty. Both faculty and students have reported that incivility is a moderate problem in nursing education (Altmiller, 2012; Clark, 2008b; Mott, 2014). 

  In a seminal study, Lashley and de Meneses (2001) found that all faculty who responded to a survey of student misconduct in nursing had experienced students being late, inattentive, or absent from class, and more than 90% reported student cheating as a problem. 

    Faculty occasionally experience more serious episodes of misconduct, including verbal or physical abuse, albeit less frequently (Luparell, 2004; Williamson, 2011). Stress in both faculty and students has been identified as contributing significantly to uncivil behavior in nursing education (Clark, 2008a). 

    Although the majority of this chapter addresses how student misbehavior can be managed, it is important that faculty have an appreciation for the overall context in which misconduct and incivility occur. Student misconduct and incivility rarely occur in a vacuum. 

    In both the general workplace and in nursing education, experts suggest that incivility is reciprocal in nature (Altmiller, 2012; Clark, 2008a; Porath & Pearson, 2012). If student misbehavior is viewed as a form of communication, it necessitates that we view it in a broader context that includes student interactions with faculty and the learning environment. 

    There is evidence to suggest that faculty play a pivotal role in establishing classroom behavioral norms and also may contribute to the problem in a variety of ways. In another landmark study, Boice (1996) concluded that faculty are the most crucial initiators of incivility in the classroom. Poor teaching skills may lead to student frustration and misbehavior. 

    Additionally, lack of instructor willingness to address classroom incivility sends a message that such behavior is acceptable. Furthermore, students sometimes experience incivility at the hands of faculty (Clark, 2008b; Marchiando, Marchiando, & Lasiter, 2010). Example behaviors that students may identify as uncivil on the part of faculty. 

    Although it is tempting to focus on student misconduct and incivility from a narrow perspective, it is prudent to avoid doing so. Poor student behavior and incivility, although never appropriate, may be influenced by a broad spectrum of variables, including stress levels and lack of general civility within the environment (Levine, 2010). 

    Additionally, lack of teaching acumen by faculty may serve to increase student stress and frustration. Although this chapter provides a starting point for managing misbehavior and incivility when it occurs in the classroom, the thoughtful educator should consider multiple variables when considering how to best prevent and manage conduct problems in the classroom environment.

A Continuum of Misconduct From Student In Nursing Education

    In considering student conduct, one size does not fit all. It is important to examine each incident in terms of the behaviors observed and reported. It is also vital to use a framework from which to evaluate student behavior. 

    With few exceptions, institutions of higher education develop policies or documents to support and inform expectations of civil behavior and conduct; these are described in many ways, such as a Student Code of Conduct, an Honor Code, Student Rights and Responsibilities, or some other variation. 

    These policies provide the filter through which one takes a set of observed and reported behaviors and considers the extent to which a specific situation may or may not violate a code of conduct. For purposes of analyzing student behaviors, all behaviors fall within one or more of the following three categories: 

(1) annoying acts

(2) administrative violations

(3) criminal conduct

   It is possible that a single behavior, such as stealing a test, can be both an administrative violation and criminal conduct. It is also possible that a behavior repeated over time, such as interrupting a lecture repeatedly, can be considered both an annoying act and an administrative violation. 

    Occasionally a lecture disruption might be annoying, but the behavior moves from annoying to a violation of campus policy if the disruptions persist after the student has been counseled that the behavior exceeds reasonable limits. 

    Regardless of where the behavior may lie on the continuum, it is critically important to create a teaching approach wherein faculty are in a position to observe student behaviors objectively. 

    The focus should be on actions and not on emotion, rumor, or innuendo. Furthermore, it is important that faculty remain cognizant of student behaviors and their potential effect on learning in order to, at the earliest opportunity, consider the extent to which student actions fall within this framework. Awareness is the first step in managing the learning environment.

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