Rapport in College Teaching

What is Rapport?

Six Aspects of Rapport

  • Building student engagement
  • Presenting self as available and as a resource for students
  • Holding students accountable
  • Being fair in assessments and daily treatment
  • Interacting in professional ways
  • Showing empathy and relationship
  • and by similar methods of showing empathy and relationship

Research-based suggestions that build rapport and increase student learning:

  • Use student names regularly; this habit has highly positive impact on student learning
  • Track your interactions with students to see if you regularly address each student (either one-on-one or in class interaction)
  • Walk around--physical presence is powerful and builds community
  • Walking around also encourages students to stay on task!
  • Note that all of these methods (except walking around) can be used online as well
  • Encourage talk through short questions (what's the first step? What is your question, now?)
  • Encourage elaboration on what they say with open-ended prompts “Say more” or “What are your thoughts?”
  • Recognize and thank students for contributions to class
  • Ask students for feedback. Creating a feedback loop is an important, evidence-based teaching technique that can improve student learning significantly. Do you know which is more important, asking for or giving feedback?

(answer: asking for feedback from students leads to a stronger gain in learning for students)


Benassi, V., Overson, C. E., & Hakala, C. M. (2014b). Applying the Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum. (C. M. Benassi, V. A. Overson, C. E. Hakala, Ed.)American Psychological Association (Vol. 37). Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site. doi:10.1111/napa.1201. https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1286&context=psych_facpub

National Research Council. 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/9853. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/9853/how-people-learn-brain-mind-experience-and-school-expanded-edition


Maryellen Weimer. (2017) Building Rapport: Moving Beyond Teacher Characteristics to Actions that Promote Learning. Faculty Focus Blog. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/building-rapport-moving-beyond-teacher-characteristics-to-actions-that-promote-learning/

Maryellen Weimer. (2017) .The Importance of Learning Students’ Names, Faculty Focus Blog. https://www.facultyfocus.com/tag/building-rapport-with-students/

Jason Barr (2016). Developing a Positive Classroom Climate. IDEA Paper #61. http://www.ideaedu.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/IDEA%20Papers/IDEA%20Papers/PaperIDEA_61.pdf

Marilla Svinicki (2016). Motivation: An Updated Analysis. IDEA Paper #59. http://www.ideaedu.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/IDEA%20Papers/IDEA%20Papers/PaperIDEA_59.pdf