Civility 101 in the Online Classroom: De-Stress for Student Success

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 10:20 AM

Diane B. Monsivais, PhD, RN, CNE
Leslie Robbins, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, PMHCNP-BC (NM only), FAANP
Ryann D. Fierro, BSN, RN
School of Nursing, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, USA

Problem/Background Online learning opportunities are expanding rapidly in higher education, but are often accompanied by pedagogical and technological challenges that create stress for both faculty and students. Without proper management of online stressful challenges, rising stress levels have the potential to deteriorate into uncivil behaviors that can easily have a negative impact on student success.

Currently available best- practice guidelines for online education provide general guidance regarding the development and management of the online classroom.  However, it is often necessary to consider institution-specific data along with best practice guidelines in order to develop focused, instead of general, strategies for managing the stressful challenges inherent in online education. With the rapid expansion of online programs across the nation, focused strategies will allow faculty and administrators to more effectively manage those challenges that may lead to uncivil behaviors and interfere with student success.  

Students bring behaviors they learn in the classroom into the workplace.   As students carry civil and supportive behaviors learned in the online classroom to the workplace, they have the potential to transform practice and education both regionally and globally.

Objective The qualitative results of the Incivility in Online Learning Environment (IOLE) survey© (Clark, 2012) at UTEP School of Nursing were used to gain an understanding of faculty and student perceptions regarding the greatest challenges to online learning.   

Methods   The Incivility in Online Learning Environment (IOLE) survey (Clark, 2012) is a descriptive tool that measures perceptions and frequencies of uncivil behaviors by faculty and students in the online learning environment (OLE), perceptions surrounding challenges and advantages in the OLE, and ideas for promoting civility in the OLE. After IRB approval, a link to the consent form and the self-administered IOLE- 45 item survey was sent by email to all UTEP School of Nursing faculty, graduate nursing students and RN-BSN students. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistical analysis for frequency of responses for faculty and students using SPSS software. Qualitative description was used to analyze the narrative responses to the qualitative questions.  

Results    The survey was completed by 100 participants (Faculty (n=23) and students (n=67)).    For students, the most common stressful challenges for students were related to faculty response time, lack of clarity, and group work issues.  For faculty, the most common stressful challenges included creating a sense of community and supportive learning environment, lack of face to face time to address issues, and the intense time commitment and constant attention to online courses.   

 Implications/Application to Educational Practice

 Using the Education Evidence Interaction Framework, examples of adapting best practices and research evidence to the local setting will be discussed. By effectively managing challenges, stress levels and potential uncivil behaviors may decrease, resulting in increased chances for student success. Through both University and School of Nursing sponsored orientation and faculty development programs, faculty are being educated regarding focused strategies for managing the challenges related to online learning.