RapportModule 3


Return to Main Course Page: Rapport Building

Go to Previous Module: Rapport Module 2


Prior to this module you had the opportunity to learn about the power of rapport. You also had the opportunity to try out different techniques and/ or incorporate them into your instructional design. So far you have had the luxury of deciding when, where, what environment, and with whom you develop rapport. Often we are not granted that liberty. Schwartz and Gurung (2012) mention some common pitfalls. Formality becomes a concern. The instructor has a role to play and the formality of that may vary. This, continuing with this courses running theme, is something that must be gauged based on the student, instructor, and environment variables. Linked to this is the possible use of social media and extra-curricular activities. Electronic correspondence can be a boon, such as described in the last module. The opportunity to reach out and or stay connected to students is easier than ever. That also means there is a possibility of overuse. Ethical boundaries must always be considered. There is a power dynamic that must not be ignored (Mun Wong, 1998). The instructor should stay aware of when being informal/ friendly becomes being a friend.

Inevitably Assignments must be addressed. While rapport may promote honesty (as in forensic interviews), it may also be damaged by dishonesty. Testing may have the same entanglements as papers and projects and the anxiety surrounding them can be immense. One way around this may be promoting a system where the burden of maintaining integrity is shared. For instance, using an honor system promotes self-worth and self-regulation of the student body and automated plagiarism checkers can be used as a third party- keeping that framework for the instructor and student to be in it together. Another solution is have more numerous small stakes evaluations. To maximize this the instructor should give thorough feedback each time and ideally a chance for a student to re-dress the work. This reinforces the immediacy and shows the student that you are working with her/him. It makes the work collaborative and no one evaluation is insurmountable. Students can feel better going forward after learning. The material and collaboration can take precedent over the grading. Anxiety is reduced and confidence is boosted.

Behaviorally challenged or resistant students are mentioned last. Perhaps you are dealing with mandated students. That means not only residential children, but in-service training participants as well. Rapport is a tool that will help you make the best of the situation. Remember, it creates a collaborative atmosphere. Like we looked at last module, first impressions can be rough. As the instructor you are the face of whatever institution you represent. However, by joining with the student, you get the opportunity to define yourself and possibly create a new paradigm that benefits all involved. Dale Carnegie (1936) wrote about simple strategies for a business setting that should be remembered. Everyone brings something table, find what the student has, and may be even help the student realize, what they have to be appreciated. If you want them to follow your path, you should find a way to make them want to go. A power struggle will likely hold little advantage over collaborative work. In accordance with this idea, be a good listener and find a starting point within their interest. Rapport is not the answer to everything. It is always a useful tool, but must be used with care. Remember the old axiom, “the right tool for the right job.” As you develop your skill set you will learn what methods work with your style, population, and environment. Revisit and revise your methods. Listen to feedback from the students. They are an important part of the equation.

At the end of this Module, You will

Examine the lasting effects of rapport.

Learn how rapport helps with difficult and or resistant situations.

Learn to objectively examine the cost/ benefit of rapport building techniques

Re-assess, revise, and reorient techniques as needed to maximize efficiency.


Kennedy, C., and Jolivette, K. (2008). The effects of positive verbal reinforcement on the time spent outside the classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders in a residential setting.


Collins, R., Lincoln, R., and Frank, M. G. (2002). The effect of rapport in forensic interviewing


Co-Constructing Cooperation with Mandated Clients


Suggested additional reading:

Schwartz, B. M., & Gurung, R. A. (2012). Evidence-based teaching for higher education. American Psychological Association.


Revisit the survey from Module 1. Then look at your journal. What methods can improve your score? What methods do you need to reduce? Looking forward, what methods would you like to try and can insert them into your planning.


Carnegie, Dale (1936). How to win friends and influence people.


Collins, R., Lincoln, R., & Frank, M. G. (2002). The effect of rapport in forensic interviewing. Psychiatry, Psychology, and Law, 9, 69–78.

De Jong, Peter, and Insoo Kim Berg. "Co-constructing cooperation with mandated clients." Social work 46, no. 4 (2001): 361-374.

Kennedy, C., & Jolivette, K. (2008). The effects of positive verbal reinforcement on the time spent outside the classroom for students with emotional and behavioral disorders in a residential setting. Behavioral Disorders, 211-221.

Mun Wong, L. (1998). The ethics of rapport: Institutional safeguards, resistance, and betrayal. Qualitative inquiry, 4(2), 178-199.

Schwartz, B. M., & Gurung, R. A. (2012). Evidence-based teaching for higher education. American Psychological Association.