Civility as a Learned And Essential Skill In Nursing Education

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Cynthia Clark


Purposes/Aims Academic incivility negatively impacts faculty-student relationships and impairs the academic environment. Uncivil behaviors by faculty and students add to student stress and jeopardize learning. This longitudinal study investigated student perceptions of academic incivility, stress, and coping in one school of nursing over a 3-year period. At the end of the study, students were evaluated on their readiness to address civility. Rationale/Background/Conceptual Framework Most studies pertaining to civility in nursing and higher education focus on the cause and effect or the current state of academic incivility. If the consequences of incivility are as challenging as the literature suggests, delaying the teaching of nursing courses addressing incivility to the senior year of the program is quite puzzling. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory posits that people learn from one another via observation, imitation, and modeling. When students observe civil behaviors throughout their program of study, it improves academic success. Courses dealing with civility need to be offered throughout the nursing program to enable students to learn through observation and use this information as a guide for actions in the future. Methods Secondary data analysis was conducted using a 3-year longitudinal study exploring students’ perceived levels of civility, major stressors, most effective coping strategies, ways to improve student-faculty and student-student relationships, and advice to improve civility in the nursing program. Data were collected from a cohort of nursing students upon entry into their nursing program, 12 months into, and at the end of the nursing program. Descriptive statistical and textual content analysis were used to analyze the results. The same graduating cohort was asked what nursing students can do to promote civility when entering their nursing practice. Results In the initial 3-year study, perceived levels of civility declined slightly. Student-faculty relationships were enhanced by faculty presence and responsiveness, while student-student relationships were improved by supporting and encouraging one another and increasing teamwork and extracurricular activities. The most effective ways to foster civility included faculty encouragement and improving course organization and clarity. There was also a lack of ownership and initiative from students relating to their role in promoting civility. The follow-up study showed that students would be better prepared to promote civility at school and in the workplace if more emphasis is placed on teaching civility throughout the nursing curriculum. Implications Raising awareness about the consequences of civility can have a major impact on improving the teaching-learning environment. Because civility is a learned skill, findings from this study suggest further research to design strategies for creating and sustaining civility throughout the nursing curriculum.

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