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The importance of rapport

This article discusses rapport and the importance of building rapport with your learners. It also identifies some strategies for building rapport.

Building rapport

Rapport describes a connection with, and an understanding between an individual or group, which can happen naturally or through common interests and ideas.

Rapport is a tricky concept, however, it is fundamental to effective teaching. It does not include trying to influence what your learners believe or help them become better people. Rapport grows as a teacher and the learners get to know each other – accepting and celebrating their uniqueness.

Teacher behaviours that contribute to rapport include showing their sense of humour, being available for the learners, encouraging class discussion, showing an interest in them, sharing personal stories, and making the learning relevant and relatable to them.

Why is rapport important?

Rapport can get the best out of your learners by increasing both teacher and student enjoyment of the learning environment; and of the topic. Rapport also motivates learners to attend class and focus on learning.

Building rapport can also:

  • Increase motivation—When learners have a rapport with their teachers and feel they can relate to their teacher, motivation is higher.
  • Increase comfort—When there is a rapport between teacher and learners, learners are more open to answering questions and contributing to the discussion.
  • Increase quality and satisfaction—When learners feel a rapport with their teacher, their satisfaction and enjoyment of the subject increases.
  • Enhance communication—As rapport grows, understanding and comprehension grows too. Teachers and students understand each other better when there is a rapport between them.

Last and most importantly

  • Rapport builds trust. Trust between teacher and learners is crucial as the learners need to trust the teacher is working in their best interests and wants them to succeed. Trust can grow, once rapport has been established.

How can you encourage rapport?

  • Use your learners’ names.
  • Learn something about learners’ interests, hobbies, and aspirations.
  • Use examples and analogies which relate directly to your learners.
  • Arrive to class early and stay afterward to give time to chat with your learners.
  • Explain your course policies – and why you have them.
  • Display and keep office hours.
  • Use digital tools to enhance communication.
  • Interact more and lecture less to ensure active learning.
  • Reward comments and questions with verbal praise.
  • Be enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about your subject matter.
  • Show your sense of humour.
  • Be humble – admit your mistakes when you make them.
  • Make eye contact with each learner without staring, glaring, or flaring.
  • Be respectful.
  • Don’t forget to smile!

References

Benson, T. A, Cohen, A. L. & Buskist, W. (2005). Rapport: Its relation to student attitudes and behaviors toward teachers and classes. Teaching of Psychology, 32, 237-239.

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.

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