Measuring Rapport with Students
Students connect with professors, not only as teachers or content experts but also as persons, and that causes some discomfort. Our relationships with students need to be professional. Because we evaluate their work and have a responsibility to treat them equally, we need to keep our distance. But there’s lots of evidence that students’ perceptions of their teachers as persons affect any number of significant learning outcomes. Their perceptions are positive when teachers are persons who care, communicate comfortably with students, listen, show respect, consider making adjustments, and teach with enthusiasm. Characteristics like these define rapport. It’s a slippery construct that involves any number of abstract features of teaching that are expressed with a wide range of verbal and nonverbal behaviors. The four references below describe the development of a long and shortened version of an instrument that measures rapport. Items on the instrument identify the characteristics that students associate with rapport. Teachers can use the instrument formatively to obtain students’ perceptions of rapport in a given course.