Rapport Module 1
The Merriam Webster (2004) and Oxford (2010) dictionaries define rapport as a close relationship indicated by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity and in which the people or groups involved understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well. Rapport encapsulates the relationship between the teacher and student and a good rapport is often seen as a watermark for a master teacher (Swchartz and Gurung 2012). In other words, Rapport is about creating an alliance. In some ways this it becomes tantamount to an unwritten classroom or similar environment contract that we (instructor and student) will take this learning journey together. We are in this together.
Rapport is useful on many levels. Perhaps the most obvious is that it creates a channel of communication. You do not need an esoteric mind to see that a message sent may as well not exist, or at least be ineffective, if it is not received. On the other end, the rapport itself may be seen as an intervention (RNAO, 2002). In fact, Social Workers, do use a very purposeful rapport, the therapeutic alliance, to enhance their work. In fact, despite social work’s often eclectic and combined approaches, it has been shown to increase effective across the board (Ardito and Rabellino, 2011). Police officers even use rapport during investigative interviews to find out information and get the most open honest answers through candid discussion (Collins, Lincoln, and Frank, 2005). While forensic interviewing may seem far afield from teaching. It shows the levels of barriers that may be breeched simply through the establishment of good rapport.
So far we have discussed the benefits of good rapport, but, one might question the cost. Like the extent of the benefits, that will vary as well. However, the biggest expenses will likely be to your time and ego. You will undoubtedly stumble through your first attempts at new techniques. It is possible that a technique is not effective with a certain student or population. As you will need to focus on evaluating yourself, these types of scenarios will seem that much more intensive. The good news is you will have positive tangible methods under your belt. Don’t forget we learn from mistakes, too. So, you will be better at identifying what we are good at and what we can use when.
Schwartz, B. M., & Gurung, R. A. (2012). Evidence-based teaching for higher education. American Psychological Association. Chapter 2
Consider this short survey. It is adapted from Scales To assess Therapeutic Relationships by McGuire-Snieckus et al. (2007), a tool used to gauge therapeutic alliance. It is has not been tested as a teaching aid, but it will give you insight into important elements of rapport.
Please answer on the following scale:
Would you say… _____ 1. I get along well with my Student(s).
_____ 2. My Student(s) and I share a good rapport.
_____ 3. I listen to my student(s).
_____ 4. I feel that my Student(s) rejects me as a Teacher.
_____ 5. I believe my Student(s) and I share a good relationship.
_____ 6. I feel inferior to my Student(s).
_____ 7. My student(s) and I share similar expectations regarding progress towards their course goals.
_____ 8. I feel that I am supportive of my student(s).
_____ 9. It is difficult for me to empathize with or relate to my student(s)’ problems.
_____ 10. My student(s) and I are open with one another.
_____ 11. I am able to take my Student(s)’ perspective when working with him/her.
_____ 12. My student and I share a trusting relationship.
Would your student say…
_____ 13. My instructor is impatient with me.
_____ 14. My instructor seems to like me regardless of what I do or say.
_____ 15. My instructor and I agree on what is important for me to work on.
_____ 16. My Instructor is stern with me when I speak about things that are important to me and my situation.
_____ 17. I believe my Instructor has an understanding of what my experiences have meant to me.
Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D. (2011). Therapeutic Alliance and Outcome of Psychotherapy: Historical Excursus, Measurements, and Prospects for Research. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 270.
McGuire-Snieckus et al. (2007). A new scale to assess the therapeutic relationship in community mental health: STAR. Psychological Medicine, 37 (2007), pp. 85–95
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Merriam-Webster, 2004.
Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (2002). Establishing therapeutic relationships. Toronto, Canada: Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.
Stevenson, Angus, ed. Oxford dictionary of English. Oxford University Press, USA, 2010.