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INFLUENCE OF RUMOURS & INFORMAL COMMUNICATION AMONG STUDENTS IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS

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The Relevance of Communication, Team Work and Rumours in the Healthcare  System. — Andréas Astier

 

Abstract 

The study investigated the effects of rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions with a focus on Research University & Ritequest University. Because of the slow speed of information flow, inadequate information, and negative attitudes toward official communication, rumors and informal communication are frequent among university students and spread more quickly than formal communication. Conspiratorial theory and psychological theory served as the study’s pillars. The study employed a survey research design and utilized a Google Form to collect data from participants. Frequency and percentage analyses were performed using descriptive statistics on the given data. The majority of respondents (88%) to the survey stated that rumors and informal communication are highly common among university students. Additionally, a large percentage of respondents (70.5%) stated that among students in postsecondary institutions, rumors and informal communication circulate virtually daily. The majority of respondents (32.3%) noted that unclear information was the main source of rumors and unofficial communication among university students. In a similar vein, the majority of respondents (27.4%) stated that there was frequently misinformation shared by students in tertiary institutions, which had significant implications for rumors and informal communication. Additionally, the majority of respondents (54.5%) proposed that regular information provision might help reduce rumors and informal communication among students in postsecondary institutions. According to the study, in order to improve social interaction and reduce the amount that students rely on rumors and unofficial channels of communication to obtain or share information, social media and other digital platforms should be incorporated into the current communication channels.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Rumors and informal contact among students are a common occurrence in higher education institutions, regardless of whether they are run by the government or privately. This is because there is always a congregation. Rumors spread more quickly than official communication for a variety of reasons, including a delayed information flow, incomplete information, and a negative attitude toward official communication. Students in postsecondary schools find it much simpler to communicate informally, especially in social settings like restaurants, cafes, and hallways.

Grapevine refers to unofficial communication. The informal relationships between the parties involved give rise to this kind of communication. It develops naturally out of shared interests. A simple look, nod, grin, gesture, or even just being silent can all be used to convey informal communication. The most efficient method for quickly and efficiently transferring information is through an informal channel (Rayadu, 1998).  

According to Keith Davis (1969), the grapevine can move diagonally, upwardly, and downwardly, within and outside of chains of command, between employees and managers, and even within and outside of an organization. Donald S. Simmons (1985) noted that all informal information is undocumented and that the network relieves employees of emotional tension by assisting them in understanding the world around them. According to Keith Davis’s (1979) research, Organizational Grapevine is a sign of a healthy human drive for communication. If workers are not interested enough in their work to strike up a conversation about it, they are most likely maladjusted. It travels across the organization in all directions since it lacks a structure and is not subject to total managerial control. The word “grapevine” originated during the American Civil War in the 1860s, when Army Intelligence employed vine-like telegraph wires that were extended from tree to tree over battlefields (Kreitner, 1983).

Hicks, Herbert; Ray (1975) mentioned that the messages that came over these lines were often so baffling or imprecise that soon any rumor was said to come from the grapevine. Generally, grapevines flow around water coolers, down corridors, through lunch rooms, and wherever people come together in groups. Even though the lines of communication seem to be messy and can be easily disturbed, they transmit information rapidly, and in several cases speedily, with a more powerful influence than is allowed by the formal system. 

The grapevine is an outcome of social contacts and is therefore unpredictable, dynamic, and varies as the people. Mishra (2020) talked about grapevine being an expression of people’s natural motivation to communicate; and stated that it is how they use their freedom of speech. He called it a natural, typical activity. He added that it starts early in the morning during the car drive; and once everyone has arrived at work, grapevine activity takes place nearly all day, during long down walk in the hallways, around corners, in meetings, and by the coffee machine. Breaks and lunch hour is the peak time of the day during which management has little or no control over the matters of conversation. The work day has finished in the late hours of afternoon but the grapevine has not. He further stated that after a short time interval, some employees meet again for leisure and at that time the grapevine ripens again and remains active. The cycle repeats itself the following day. The multiple origins of the grapevine and the fact that its participants come from informal social groups within the organization indicate how it is not similar to formal management communication. 

Rumors are bits of information that are of interest to people, that are not accompanied by secure standards of evidence, and that are proposed for possible belief. The key characteristic of a rumor is doubt about its veracity.

Most students prefer to express themselves without restriction, choose their words freely and derive much satisfaction in their own chosen expressions and dictions. They place much trust in the interlocutor, and they no longer feel restrained, and as a result they obtain trending information and dish out rumors they also obtained. The widespread of information via informal channels is quite at high speed compared to the formal dissemination of information among students in higher institutions. There are also cases where the information is not conveyed horizontally, but only vertically, and which affects the efficient fulfillment and the purpose of the task. Informal communication means an unofficial, natural way of disseminating information which flows horizontally, vertically, diagonally, internally or externally without following any set of rule or regulation among the people within or outside the organization.

Tissot (2004) notes that this form of communication is concerned with the daily routine activities of work, with family or friends, or during leisure time. The student is not even sometimes aware of the fact that he or she is communicating. This communication has neither any restriction nor rules and regulations to be followed and it has no specific time to be learnt. This form of communication is not limited to time, age, environment, ethnic background, department etc.

While grapevines are clearly beneficial to organizations and their members, there are obvious problems with informal communication networks. The biggest problem stems out of the unreliability of information being transmitted in informal communication networks. Research has found out that information transmitted through informal communication networks tends to be 75 to 95 percent accurate (Davis, 2019). Grapevine communication among lower and middle managers. Unfortunately, the 5 to 25 percent of the time the informal communication network contains false information which is highly problematic for organizations.

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Informal communication spreads rumor, untrue and distorted information very quickly since it does not follow any officially recognized rule, regulation and system. It is independent of management control. Informal communication takes place in family, schools, institutions, club, religions place, market squares and in the playground. It may take the shape of conversation or gossiping depending on the personal and social relationship of the parties concerned. It is helpful here to contrast rumors with news; news has secure standards of authentication, rumors do not. That is, rumors are just like news, only without the confidence that accompanies an article in a respectable newspaper.

In the past nine years, many tertiary educational institutions in Nigeria have witnessed unrests, some of which resulted to forced closures. A good example is that of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) that witnessed several vandalism and arson in November 2020. In sequel to this, Macron (2001) in his study suggests that some of the perceived reasons for the unrest were leadership failure, unsatisfactory conditions of service, poor working environment and fundamentally ineffective communication flow that birth rumor and agitation. On lack of effective communication flow, there is hardly any empirical evidence to confirm this except informal communication from the institutions.

Nevertheless, since communication is the life-wire of the organization, according to Miller (2006), it is logical to state that ineffective communication is a major factor in disharmony and unrest in tertiary institutions.

In the same vein, social media, mostly among students currently have great influence on how information is obtained and exchanged. The growing circulation of unverified news (rumor) in various tertiary institutions in Nigeria has been christened by scores of scholars to be part of the corollaries of social media mismanagement geared by anxiety, curiosity for attention, complexity in the nature of message, adoption of weak or wrong communication channels etc. as stated by (Rosnow, Esposito, & Gibney, 2018) in their study.

Based on this background, this research is targeted at examining the effects of rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions, using Research University & Ritequest University

 1.3       RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This study seeks to assess the effects of rumours and informal communication among students in Research University & Ritequest University

The following research objectives would however, enhance the achievement of the aforementioned objective:

  1. To examine the nature of rumours and informal communication among students of Research University & Ritequest University 
  2. To verify the rampancy of rumours and informal communication among students of Research University & Ritequest University 

1.4      RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Based on the above mentioned objectives, this study will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. What is the nature of rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions?
  2. How rampant are rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions?

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The research which investigates the effects of rumours and informal communication among students in Tertiary Institutions was narrowed in scope to Research University & Ritequest University. The institutions are selected because of its proximity to the researcher as it will be difficult if not impossible to study all tertiary institutions in Nigerian due to time available for this study, other considerable factors are geographical locations, age, sex and educational background of the respondents will be considered before administration of questionnaire. 

 1.6       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The findings from this study would have tremendous benefits on subsequent research on informal communication. The students should find the study interesting, as they will come to understand the roles, rampancy, implications and vivid information about rumors/informal communication.

This study is of great importance, as it will bring to limelight causes and effects of rumor among students of various tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It will also justify the relationship between rumor and informal communication and in the same vein proffer ways elements of rumor can be avoided during informal communication among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It will also be an addition to the academic world as it will provide explicable materials for other researchers who might want to delve into research of this same subject matter or broaden the scope of this study.

 

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