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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 61-67

Perception of Uncivil Classroom Behavior Among the Faculty Members and the Students in an Indian Dental Institution


Department of Public Health Dentistry, Panineeya Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2017

Correspondence Address:
Dantala Satyanrayana
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Panineeya Institute of Dental Sciences and Research Centre, Road No. 5, Kamala Nagar, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad - 500 060, Andhra Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_122_16

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  Abstract 

Introduction: Students and faculty members in the health professions classroom are expected to exhibit professional behaviors that are conducive to maintaining a positive learning environment. Aim: To assess the perception of uncivil classroom behavior among the students and the faculty members in a private dental institute in Hyderabad city, India. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted among the dental students and the faculty members. The mean perceptions of uncivil classroom behavior were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire of Rowland and Srisukho containing 18 items. Results: A statistically significant difference was noted between the students and the faculty members for mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior (P = 0.002). When based on gender, no significant difference was observed among the students and the staff, but when individual items were considered, most of the male students and the faculty members perceived uncivil behaviors. Among all students, the mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior was significantly high among the undergraduates (68.17 ± 14.5) and least in postgraduates (62.67 ± 22.7), and among the faculty members, it was more among the professors (82.63 ± 4.0). Conclusion: Overall, the issue of uncivil classroom behavior remains a major concern, because 88.6% of the students agreed that they were involved in uncivil classroom behavior previously.

Keywords: Classroom behavior, dental education, incivility, uncivil


How to cite this article:
Satyanrayana D, Kulkarni S, Doshi D, Reddy MP, Reddy BS, Srilatha A. Perception of Uncivil Classroom Behavior Among the Faculty Members and the Students in an Indian Dental Institution. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2017;15:61-7

How to cite this URL:
Satyanrayana D, Kulkarni S, Doshi D, Reddy MP, Reddy BS, Srilatha A. Perception of Uncivil Classroom Behavior Among the Faculty Members and the Students in an Indian Dental Institution. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Dec 12];15:61-7. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2017/15/1/61/201929


  Introduction Top


Education plays an important role in developing a civil society, and higher education plays an important role in helping the students to develop a sense of civic and social responsibility and learn ways to contribute to the common good.[1] It has been said that civility is the cornerstone of professionalism and is often limited to academic integrity and ethics.[2] As health professionals, we expect the students to demonstrate professional behavior. Yet, reports of unprofessional behavior in classroom have an impact on other students, faculty members, and the teaching environment.[3]

Feldman defined classroom incivility as “any action that interferes with a harmonious and cooperative learning atmosphere in the classroom” and classified uncivil classroom behavior into the following four categories: annoyance (answering cell phones in class and arriving late in class), classroom terrorism, intimidation, and threats of violence.[4] Many explanations for academic incivility have been suggested including exposure to hostility, poor secondary school performance, changing student’s demographics, and inadequate parenting.[1]

For those students who attempt to increase performance by cutting corners, cheating begins early in their career and grows with educational demands.[5] Morrissette[6] noted that changing characteristics of the students have increased classroom behavior and further reported that the students with personal problems, increased anxiety levels, and emotional disturbances are more likely to exhibit uncivil classroom behavior. In addition, Berger reported that those students who felt unsupported or being held by unrealistic expectations are more likely to be uncivil.[2]

Managing uncivil behavior in classroom is a difficult task encountered by many faculties. Moreover, Clark et al.[7] reported that the faculty members and the students described classroom incivility as a reciprocal process with stress as a major factor influencing uncivil behavior, along with poor communication, lack of mutual respect, and poor teaching methods. Boice[8] conducted a longitudinal observational study over a 5-year period at a research university and found that high levels of classroom incivilities correspond with low levels of student attentiveness and note-taking and low levels of teacher enthusiasm, clarity, organization, and immediacy.

Classroom incivility has also been documented in many professional courses.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13] Dental schools are also vulnerable to problems associated with academic incivility. A study by Andrew et al.[5] revealed that cheating was a critical problem in dental schools of the United States and Canada. Furthermore, Al-Dwairi and Al-Waheidi[14] identified 13 categories of cheating behaviors among the dental students in a study completed at Faculty of Dentistry in Jordan University. Rowland and Srisukho[3] found considerable disparities in perception of uncivil classroom behavior among the dental students and the faculty members and the most obvious practical outcome of uncivil classroom behavior among the unprofessional and the underskilled students passing out of dental schools.

Literature revealed that the research on perception of uncivil classroom behavior in the field of dental education in India is very scanty. Hence, this study aimed at assessing the mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior among the students and the faculty members in a private dental institute in Hyderabad city, India.


  Materials and Methods Top


A cross-sectional questionnaire study was conducted on the behavior among the students and the faculty members in a private dental institute in Hyderabad city, India. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board. Anonymity and confidentiality of respondents were maintained, and the participation was voluntary.

A pilot study was conducted on a convenience sample of 67 students and 10 faculty members for estimating the sample size, planning of the main study, and to check the validity of the questionnaire. With confidence level of 95% and a sampling error of 5%, the estimated sample size was a minimum of 396 subjects, and the validity of the questionnaire was 0.8.

The dental students and the faculty members who gave their consent to participate in the study and who were present in the dental college on the day of the study were included. The final sample size was 510 dental students (undergraduates, interns, and postgraduates) and 55 faculty members.

A self-administered questionnaire by Rowland and Srisukho[3] comprising two sections was employed in the study. The first section gathered the demographic details of both the students and the faculty members. The second section comprised 18 questions (18 items) about uncivil classroom behavior. Finally (19 items), the survey asked the students whether they had participated in any classroom incivility, and faculty members were asked to mention any other uncivil classroom behavior, which was not included in the questionnaire. The students’ and the faculty members’ opinion about uncivil classroom behavior was noted on a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree).

Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical package for social sciences software (SPSS version 12.0), statistical data 2003 SPSS, Inc., an IBM Company, Chicago, Illinosis, USA. Comparison among groups was done using analysis of variance. Mann–Whitney U test was used for comparison among items of the questionnaire. P < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.


  Results Top


Out of the 510 students who completed the questionnaire, 400 (78.5%) were females and 110 (21.5%) were males, and the mean age was 20.7 ± 2.24 years. Among the faculty members, 26 (47.3%) were males and 29 (52.7%) were females; majority had a master’s degree (67.3%), with 27.3% of them working as senior lecturers, 24.5% as readers, and 14.5% as professors. The mean age of the faculty members was 31.6 ± 5.75 years.

Out of the 18 items of the questionnaire, 13 items were significantly perceived as more uncivil by the faculty members than did the student members (P ≤ 0.05). The students and the faculty members did not show any significant difference in their mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior based on gender. For individual items, according to the students, leaving the class before the teacher (3.9 ± 1.2), making offensive remarks (3.9 ± 1.0), reading magazines in class (3.9 ± 1.2), and surfing the Internet in class (3.9 ± 1.3) were considered as the most uncivil behaviors; nonetheless, these attributes did not show any significant difference based on gender. The female students considered the following attributes uncivil: cheating in class (P = 0.01) and challenging the instructor’s credibility (P = 0.001), whereas the male students considered demanding special treatment (P = 0.04), missing the deadline (P = 0.04), sleeping in class (P = 0.001), and arriving late to class (P = 0.001) as uncivil behaviors. According to the faculty members, use of cell phone was the most uncivil behavior (4.7 ± 0.6) followed by prolonged chattering (4.6 ± 0.7), reading magazines (4.5 ± 1.1), and making offensive remarks (4.5 ± 1.1). Male faculty members significantly felt that challenging authority in class (P = 0.01) and prolonged chattering in class (P = 0.01) were the most uncivil behaviors [Table 1].
Table 1: Item-wise mean perception of uncivil behavior among the staff and the students based on gender

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On the basis of the year of study among the undergraduate students, significantly higher mean perception of uncivil behavior was observed among the 4th year students (72.28 ± 9.3) followed by the 2nd year students (71.38 ± 17.0), the 1st year students (66.09 ± 17.5), and the least by the 3rd year students (58.69 ± 18.8). Out of the 18 items, 13 items were significantly considered as uncivil by the 4th year students and eight items by the 2nd year students, with higher mean scores on comparison to other years of study. All the individual items were significantly perceived as uncivil behavior by the undergraduate students, with the higher mean scores observed for the following items: leaving the class before the teacher (4.3 ± 0.8; P = 0.001), reading magazines in class (4.3 ± 0.8; P = 0.001), and challenging the instructor’s incredibility (4.3 ± 1.0; P = 0.001) [Table 2].
Table 2: Item-wise comparison of mean perception of uncivil class room behavior among the undergraduate students

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Among the dental students (undergraduates, interns, and postgraduates), significantly higher mean perception of uncivil behavior was observed among the undergraduates (68.17 ± 14.5) followed by interns (64.24 ± 19) and the least by postgraduates (62.67 ± 22.7). Item-wise comparison revealed that leaving the class before the teacher (P = 0.01), making offensive remarks (P = 0.01), prolonged chattering (P = 0.03), reading magazines (P = 0.006), sleeping in class (P = 0.01), talking out of turn (P = 0.02), and using computer/surfing the Internet in class (P = 0.001) were the most uncivil behaviors, with significantly higher means among undergraduates. Demanding special treatment and not paying attention in class were the most uncivil classroom behaviors reported by interns and postgraduates, respectively, but they were not statistically significant [Table 3].
Table 3: Item-wise comparison of mean perception of uncivil class room behavior among students

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Similarly, based on the designation, though higher mean perception of uncivil behavior was observed among the professors (82.63 ± 4.0) and least among the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) tutors (73.72 ± 14.3), no statistically significant difference was noted. Out of the 18 items, only six items (items 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, and 13) were significantly perceived as uncivil behaviors by the faculty members. Among these, use of cell phone (5.0 ± 0.0; P = 0.04), challenging authority in class (4.9 ± 0.3; P = 0.001), demanding special treatment (4.6 ± 0.5; P = 0.01), and talking out of turn (4.6 ± 0.5; P = 0.002) by the professors; sleeping in class (4.7 ± 0.4; P = 0.008) by the readers; and not paying attention in the class (4.4 ± 1.0; P = 0.02) by the BDS tutors were highly perceived as uncivil. Nonetheless, leaving the class before the teacher (4.8 ± 0.4), making offensive remarks (4.9 ± 0.2), reading magazines (5.0 ± 0.0), using Internet in class (5.0 ± 0.0), and cheating in class (4.8 ± 0.4) were highly perceived as uncivil behaviors, but they were not significant based on designation [Table 4].
Table 4: Item-wise comparison of mean perception of uncivil class room behavior based on designation

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Among the students, 88.6% agreed that they were involved in uncivil classroom behavior. In addition, the faculty members felt that abusing faculty members, giving proxy attendance, not following dress code, and forging staff signatures were other uncivil classroom behaviors.


  Discussion Top


There has been much debate on issues concerning professionalism in dental education, with most of the attention focused on academic integrity, dishonesty, and misconduct.[3] Preventing and managing uncivil classroom behavior is a tough job for the faculty members, and this academic incivility by the students seriously disrupts the faculty members–students relationship. Research studies showed that the percentage of cheating behaviors has doubled from 34% in 1969 to 68% in 1989 at the University of Georgia.[5] Till date, only one study reported perception of uncivil classroom behavior in the field of dental education in India.[15] Hence, this study aimed at comparing perception of classroom incivilities among the students and the faculty members and also determined how many students readily engage in uncivil classroom behavior in a private dental institution in Hyderabad city, India.

The survey instrument used in this study was based on prior investigation by Rowland and Srisukho.[3] It was previously pretested for face and content validation by Paik and Broedl-Zaugg.[11] In addition, this instrument has been approved by Ohio Northern University’s internal review board. This is the only available questionnaire on uncivil classroom behavior that was previously used for assessing uncivil classroom behavior among the dental fraternity.[3]

In our study, the agreement between the dental faculty members and the dental students was not significant for 28% of the questions. However, a study by Rowland and Srisukho[3] at Midwestern U.S. dental school reported no significant difference for 39% of the questions. Moreover, in a study by Ballard et al.,[2] the difference was only 6%, and this difference might be due to a large number of study participants. The only alignment with the Ballard et al.’s[2] study concerning the faculty members and student agreement was that talking out of turn was perceived as an uncivil behavior.

Out of 18 items, faculty respondents agreed more uncivil for 17 items (significant only for 13 items) than the students and tended to agree more that using cell phone in class is uncivil. These results were in line with the studies conducted by Ballard et al.[2] and Rowland and Srisukho.[3] Only one item, that is, talking out of turn was more perceived as uncivil by the students and was not significant. Furthermore Rowland and Srisukho[3] found that missing deadlines as the most uncivil behavior and Shetty et al[15] reported that arriving late to class and being unprepared for clinics as uncivil behaviors. This notable difference in perception between the faculty members and the students might be due to generation gap and difference in life experiences both inside and outside of classes and also due to age difference.

In this study, among the students, significant perception of uncivil behavior was observed for six items based on gender, in which demanding special treatment, missing the deadline, sleeping in class, and arriving late to class (P ≤ 0.05) were perceived as uncivil behaviors by males. In contrast, Ballard et al.[2] found that females were significantly in stronger agreement for these items. They also found that making offensive remarks, challenging instructor knowledge, and cheating were more perceived as uncivil by the female students, and this finding was also observed in this study and in a study conducted by Shetty et al.[15]

Though the male faculty respondents in our study were more likely to consider the classroom behaviors as uncivil when compared to the female faculty members, significant difference was observed only for two behaviors, that is, for chattering and challenging authority in class. This finding might be due to less difference in male-to-female respondents. These findings were also observed in a study by Ballard et al.,[2] wherein the behaviors such as eating and drinking in class were significant among the male faculty members and using cell phone among the female faculty members. On the other hand, Rowland and Srisukho[3] observed a tendency of the female faculty members to regard missing deadlines and sleeping in class as uncivil behavior.

As the academic years progress, the students are exposed to stressful clinical environment and change in the curriculum, which might lead to uncivil behavior. In this study, a significant difference was observed in the responses based on the years of study among the undergraduate students, wherein most of the behaviors were perceived as uncivil by the 2nd and the 4th year students. In contrast, Ballard et al.[2] found no significant change in the perception of uncivil behavior, except for two behaviors (demanding special treatment and being unprepared for class) showing increased agreement with increased years of study.

There was notable difference among all dental students (undergraduates, interns, and postgraduates), with higher mean perception among undergraduates; as the students pass and go to the next academic year, the attitude toward uncivil behavior changes, and this might be due to the change in curriculum, classroom atmosphere, and the faculty members. Furthermore, the postgraduate students had the least mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior, because they were closely monitored by the faculty members and were in the wake of becoming dental professionals and be role model for others in the dental school. Moreover, the postgraduate students perceived only one behavior, not paying attention in class, as more uncivil, whereas Shetty et al.[15] reported that sleeping in class, being unprepared for class, leaving the clinic early, missing deadlines, and dominating discussions were perceived as uncivil behaviors by the postgraduate students.

On the basis of the designation of the faculty members, no significant difference was observed for mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior (P = 0.20). The faculty members with experience (professors) had the maximum mean perception of uncivil classroom behavior. Professors believed that using cell phones in class and challenging authority in class were the most commonly viewed disruptive behaviors. This disparity is because of the fact that younger faculty members who have recently passed may not have experienced classroom incivility. In a study by Shetty et al, all the faculty members (100%) agreed that using a cell phone in class and attending late to class as most common uncivil behavior which are intolerant.

Alexander-Snow[16] explored the extent to which characteristics such as race, gender, and ethnicity of the students and the faculty members influence the occurrence of student incivility and concluded that the female faculty members and the faculty members of color are more prone to experience classroom incivilities. In this study, the percentage of the students who agreed that they were involved in uncivil classroom behavior was 88.6%, which reflects the seriousness of the issue. Most of the students believed that competitive pressures and stress instigate them to behave unethically and felt that there was a need for the dental educators to seriously consider approaches to reduce stress and support students academically.[17] Similar results were also observed in a study by Austin et al.,[18] wherein 80% of the students participated in one or more of the acts of academic dishonesty.

The faculty members (14.5%) also mentioned the following as uncivil classroom behaviors: abusing faculty members, giving proxy attendance, not following dress code, and doing forgery of staff signatures. These findings agreed with a study conducted by Al-Dwairi and Al-Waheidi,[14] in which forgery of staff signatures was considered as very serious cheating behavior. Furthermore, in the study by Rowland and Srisukho,[3] the faculty members also mentioned that the other behaviors considered as uncivil were discussing emotionally laden issues, forgetting class assignments, missing classes for valid reasons such as marriage, and personal comments on the faculty members.

However, we acknowledge that our study has few limitations, namely the small sample size and a single institution study; hence, generalizability of the study results is cautioned. In addition, unidimensional nature and avoidance of extreme response values, which are drawbacks of Likert scale, need to be considered while interpreting the results. However, we hope that other dental schools will be able to use this study as a starting point to begin a dialogue with their students regarding incivility in dental education. This study recommends a clear rationale to focus upon in our efforts to improve civility and move us in the direction of learning environment that are more welcoming for all of us.


  Conclusion Top


Overall, the issue of uncivil classroom behavior remains a major concern, because 88.6% of the students agreed that they were involved in uncivil classroom behavior previously. The overall mean perception of uncivil behavior was not significantly based on gender among both the students and the faculty members. The professors and the undergraduate students perceived most of the behaviors as uncivil. Most of the students believed that competitive pressures and stress instigate them to behave unethically and felt that there was a need for dental educators to seriously consider approaches to reduce stress and support the students academically. Most of the students and the faculty members also believed that classroom incivility was a reciprocal process, suggesting positive faculty members–students relationship, which in turn may promote empowering learning atmosphere.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Clark CM, Springer PJ. Thoughts on incivility: Student and faculty perceptions of uncivil behavior in nursing education. Nurs Educ Prospect 2007;28:93-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Ballard RW, Hagan JL, Townsend JA, Ballard MB, Armbruster PC. Perceptions of uncivil student behavior in dental education. J Dent Educ 2009;79:38-46.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Rowland ML, Srisukho K. Dental students’ and faculty members perception of incivility in the classroom. J Dent Educ 2009;73:119-26.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Feldman LJ. Classroom civility is another of our instructors responsibilities. Coll Teach 2001;49:134-40.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Andrews KG, Smith LA, Henzi D, Demps E. Faculty and student perceptions of academic integrity at U.S. and Canadian dental schools. J Dent Educ 2007;71:1027-39.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Morrissette PJ. Reducing incivility in the university college classroom. Int Electron J Learn 2001;5:1-12.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Clark CM, Juan CM, Allerton BW, Otterness NS, Jun WY, Wel F. Faculty and student perceptions of academic incivility in the People’s Republic of China. J Cult Divers 2012;19:85-93.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Boice B. Classroom incivilities. Res High Educ 1996;37:453-86.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Clark CM, Fransworth J, Landrum RE. Development and description of the Incivility in Nursing Education (INE) survey. J Theory Constr Test 2006;13:7-15.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Clark CM, Springer PJ. Incivility in nursing education: A descriptive study of definitions and prevalence. J Nurs Educ 2007;46:7-14.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Paik C, Broedl-Zaugg KB. Pharmacy students’ opinions on civility and preferences regarding professors. Am J Pharm Educ 2006;70:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Rabi MS, Patton RL, Fjortoft N, Zgarrick DP. Characteristics, prevalence, attitudes, and perceptions of academic dishonesty among pharmacy students. Am J Pharm Educ 2006;70:1-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Stork E, Hartley NE. Classroom incivilities: Students’ perceptions about professors’ behaviors. Contemp Issues Educ Res 2009;2:13-24.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Al-Dwairi ZN, Al-Waheidi EM. Cheating behaviors of dental students. J Dent Educ 2004;68:1192-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Shetty A, Lagisetti AK, Bhat R, Hedge MN, Hedge P, Shetty C. Perception of uncivil behavior in classroom and clinical environment in a dental college. Int J Inform Res Rev 2016;3:2354-7.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Alexander-Snow M. Dynamics of gender, ethnicity, and race in understanding classroom incivility. New Dir Teach Learn 2004;99:21-31.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Clark CM, Otterness NS, Jun WY, Allerton BW, Juan CM, Wel F. Descriptive study of student incivility in the People’s Republic of China. J Cult Divers 2010;17:136-43.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Austin Z, Collins D, Remillard A, Kelcher S, Chui S. Influence of attitudes toward curriculum on dishonest academic behavior. Am J Pharm Educ 2006;70:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 18
    



 
 
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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