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Redlands Researchers Look at Incivility in Classrooms

University of Redlands researchers studying student incivility have found that new, female professors report more incivility from students than their male and more experienced counterparts.

Prompted by an instance of churlish student behavior in one of their classes, a trio of professors in the University’s School of Education began wondering about the behavior as a more widespread phenomenon.

They produced a survey that asked faculty members from nine institutions about incidences of student incivility and the effect it had on them.

The 339 faculty members who responded, evenly split between male and female, for the Redlands study noted student incivility in three categories:

• student disengagement, including sleeping in class, texting or using the computer to surf the Web or check Facebook;
• general disruptive behavior, such as carrying on conversations with others, answering cell phones, allowing them to ring, walking in and out of class and eating;
• behavior directed specifically at the instructor, including open derision, expressions of boredom and comments about the instructor. Angry and aggressive student behavior, in some cases with students resorting to bullying or intimidating the instructor, was also reported.

What the study conducted by Rodney K. Goodyear, a professor of education, and Pauline Reynolds and Janee Both Gragg, assistant professors of education, found was that more women faculty members than men reported having encountered incivility. Those who reported not having encountered such behavior were older, more experienced faculty members.

The Redlands researchers’ findings of a cluster of behaviors specifically focused on the instructor was unique from those of previous researchers.

Technologies such as the Internet, texting and e-mail were all more prominent causes of perceived incivility than in prior research. They presented their findings May 2, 2010 at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Denver.

Goodyear says the team is planning on conducting follow-up research to learn more.

The School of Education at the University of Redlands has a unique focus on educational justice, from the doctoral level with its Ed.D. in Educational Justice to courses and programs throughout the School. Its Institute for Educational Justice sponsors symposiums throughout the year and a summer institute with noted educators and educational leaders exploring topics on educational justice.


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