Instructor Perceptions of Student Incivility in the Online Undergraduate Science Classroom

Anna E. Abraham, Carly A. Busch, Sara E. Brownell, Katelyn M. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Student incivility, defined as a student behavior perceived to be disrespectful or disruptive to the overall learning environment in a course, can negatively affect the science learning environment and instructors. The transition to online science courses during the COVID-19 pandemic created a unique environment for student incivility to take place in undergraduate courses. There are few studies that examine student incivility in online synchronous courses, and we know of no studies that have investigated student incivility during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we surveyed 283 instructors across U.S. institutions who taught undergraduate science courses with synchronous online components. We probed their experiences with student incivility during the fall 2020 term. Over half of instructors surveyed reported experiencing student incivility, with women being more likely than men to report student incivility. Compared with white instructors, people of color were more likely to perceive an increase in student incivility in fall 2020 relative to previous in-person terms. This work indicates that student incivility is perceived in the online synchronous learning environment and that the negative impacts of perceived student incivility during COVID-19 online instruction were not distributed equally among instructors, disproportionately burdening women and people of color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biology Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Zoom
  • gender
  • instructor
  • online learning
  • race
  • remote instruction
  • science
  • student incivility
  • uncivil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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