The lack of social interaction and being trapped in their homes has led to an increase in their anxiety and depression. These students are particularly vulnerable when there is incivility in the classroom, this rings true whether it be the faculty or their fellow students that are driving the incivility.
Incivility has been identified in the literature and by professional nursing organizations (American Nurses Association, 2019). Incivility can take many forms; eye-rolling, exclusion from group texts, exclusion from study groups, bullying in private chats, and in social media, as just a few examples. Incivility can be directed at both students and faculty. In my career, I have been the victim of bullying by students and witnessed students being uncivil with their peers.
Students are always under tremendous pressure in nursing school, and the online environment can exacerbate this stress. When the students are treated poorly by their classmates, whether it be overt or covert statements these students may feel apprehension in reaching out for support from the faculty. Civility is very important for faculty to assess during each interaction. There are tools that have been developed for the students and the faculty to use in their assessment of the situation. One of my favorite tools is the Clark Civility Index (Clark, 2013). This tool has the student ranking and a faculty ranking. As faculty, when I am assessing my classroom and discover incivility, I imbed this tool into my lesson plan. This tool has 20 questions that the students rank on a Likert-Style rating scale. The students then will tally up their responses.
I have found that when this tool is used, and the students are able to anonymously give their responses they rank themselves much higher for civility than they rank the class as a whole. This leads to a lot of self-reflection on their role in the incivility. As faculty, I ask the students to reflect upon this and what solutions they can pose to solve the problem. I recognize it is my responsibility to create a safe environment for the student to learn in. I have also started working with other faculty to create classroom contracts that set up the rules and guidelines for my classroom. This allows the students to know what is expected from them starting at day one. I also periodically send out a Survey Monkey survey to ask for anonymous feedback to improve but also identify problems with the students knowing their anonymity is protected.