Abstract: The study investigated the effects of rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions with a focus on Research University & Ritequest University. Rumours and informal communication is common among students of tertiary institutions and spread faster than formal communication because of the slow pace of information flow, inadequate information and poor attitude to official communication. The study was anchored on Psychological Theory and the Conspiratorial Theory. A survey research method was adopted while google form was used to elicit responses from respondents. The data collected were analyzed in descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage). Findings show that, majority of respondents (88%) noted that rumours and informal communication is very rampant among students in tertiary institution Also, many of respondents (70.5%) revealed that rumours and informal communication spread almost day among students in tertiary institution. Majority of respondents (32.3%) observed that the most cause of rumours and informal communication among students of tertiary institutions was non-clarity information. Similarly, majority of respondents (27.4%) submitted that major implication for rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions was often misled students. Also majority of respondents (54.5%) suggested that rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions can be curbed by providing regular information. The study recommended that social media and other digital platforms need to be integrated to the existing channels of communication to enhance social interaction thereby limiting the extent at which student rely on rumour and informal communication to get information or share information.
Keywords: Informal Communication
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In as much as congregation exists, rumours and informal communication cannot be eliminated in various higher institutions, be it private or government owned institution, rumours and informal communication among students abound. Rumour circulates faster than formal communication for certain reasons such as slow pace of information flow, inadequate information and poor attitude to official communication. Informal communication is much easier for students in tertiary institutions, especially when they are in social environments such as hostels, restaurants, walkways etc.
Informal communication is called grapevine. This type of communication arises on account of informal relationship between persons concerned. It grows spontaneously from personal and group interest. Informal communication is characterized and may be conveyed by a simple glance, nod, smile, gesture and even mere silence. Informal channel is the most effective way of transmitting information with considerable speed (Rayadu, 1998).
Keith Davis (1969) opined that the grapevine moves upwards, downward, and diagonally, within and without chains of command, between workers and managers, and even with and without a company. Donald S. Simmons (1985) identified that the network helps employees understand the world around them and thus provides liberation from emotional stress and added that all informal information is undocumented. Keith Davis (1979) highlighted in his study that Organizational Grapevine is an expression of healthy human motivation to communicate and if employees are so uninterested in their work that they do not engage in small talk about it, they are probably maladjusted. In view of the fact that it has no structure and it is not under absolute power of management, it moves through the organization in all directions. The term grapevine can be traced to the United States Civil War in 1860s when vine like telegraph wires were strung from tree to tree across battlefields and used by Army Intelligence (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:
- To examine the nature of rumours and informal communication among students of Research University & Ritequest University
- 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:
- What is the nature of rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institutions?
- 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.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Informal Communication: is the casual and unofficial form of communication wherein the information is exchanged spontaneously between two or more persons without conforming to prescribed official rules, processes, system, formalities and chain of command. This project carefully analyzes the concept of informal communication among students in tertiary institutions.
Tertiary Institution: According to Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, tertiary institution is the education beyond the secondary level, especially education at the college or university level such as The study investigated the rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institution with a focus on Research University & Ritequest University
Rumours: Hayakawa (2002) defines rumor as a kind of social phenomenon that a similar remark spreads on a scale in a short time through chains of communication. They are unofficial interesting stories or piece of news that might be true or invented, and quickly spreads from person to person. This research approaches the concept of rumors, its impacts, effects, objectives and rampancy among students in tertiary institutions.
Student: According to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, a student is a person who is studying at a university, college or school. It is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving employment at a desired field. The students of The study investigated the rumours and informal communication among students in tertiary institution with a focus on Research University & Ritequest University would be explored in this study.
Implication: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated (Oxford Dictionary Lexicon). It is also the effect that an action or decision will have on something else in the future; it refers to something that is suggested, or happens, indirectly. It is the consequences that can be drawn from rumors and informal communication among students in educational setting.
Influence: is the power to have an important effect on someone or something. (www.vocabulary.com). This project will reveal how rumors/informal communication affect institutional performances and its impacts on educational attainment.