“Rapport” is one of those words faculty frequently toss out when I ask them to describe the climate for learning in a classroom. I always snicker a bit at how many one-word answers the question engenders. Of course, the teacher asks for elaboration when the students respond with single words.
I do agree (and so does the research) that rapport is something that benefits efforts to learn. It motivates students to expend more effort at the same time it keeps them engaged and involved. But what is rapport? With a detailed understanding comes the possibility of developing one’s rapport. To that end, consider this list of factors leading to good rapport generated during the course of online interviews with 40 faculty (mostly in business fields). These are examples from a longer list, but they are listed in order of importance.
Respect—Faculty and students show respect for each other.
Caring—Faculty care about learning. They want their students to be successful. Faculty see students as individuals, each with unique personal circumstances.
Approachability—Faculty must show (not just tell) students that they are interested in working with them.
Communicate openly—Faculty must be honest and open about their policies and instructional practices.
Mutual openness—Faculty share information about themselves and seek out information about individual students—from their aspirations to where they call home.
Interest in student success—Faculty monitor student progress and intervene with offers of help when students are floundering.
Trust—Students learn that they can trust faculty. If faculty announce that papers will be back next Wednesday, they are returned next Wednesday.
Keep it real—Faculty act like the humans they are. If they are mistaken, they make that admission.
Patience—Faculty willingly answer questions they have already answered. They know that it takes students time to get it and that learning can be a stressful endeavor.
Reference: Granitz, N. A., Koernig, S. K., and Harich, K. R. (2009). Now it’s personal: Antecedents and outcomes of rapport between business faculty and their students. Journal of Marketing Education, 31 (1), 52-65.