Faculty experience of rudeness in Scottish higher education: dealing with rudeness from students and colleagues

A Irwin* (Corresponding Author), A M H Cederblad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigated rudeness experienced by academic staff from students, co-workers and senior staff members. The focus of much of the rudeness literature in an educational setting has been on the student experience of rudeness, predominantly in the classroom. The aim of the current study was to focus on the experience of academic staff rather than students, and to broaden consideration of rudeness beyond the classroom, to include e-mail. Using a mixed-methods questionnaire, with both closed and open questions, rudeness perception, impact and response was examined across a sample of 122 academic staff from Scottish Higher Education institutions. The study examined relationships between personality, stress, job satisfaction, level of rudeness and the impact of rudeness on staff. The qualitative segment explored responses to rude e-mails across three sources; student, colleague and senior colleague. The results indicated that academic staff reported similar levels of rudeness from students, co-workers and senior colleagues. Faculty who reported high levels of neuroticism were more likely to report a negative impact of rudeness. Academic staff also reported that their response to rudeness could differ according to the instigator: a greater proportion of staff reported that they would be likely to reprimand a student, in comparison to a colleague, for rudeness. Staff were more likely to seek an informal resolution to rudeness with a co-worker, rather than a student. This paper highlights the potential importance of individual characteristics in assessing the impact of rudeness on faculty and indicates that rudeness may come from several sources in academia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-673
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education.
Issue number5
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019


  • rudeness
  • incivility
  • academia
  • status
  • personality


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