Teacher Credibility

If a teacher is not perceived as credible, the students just turn off

This is a claim made by John Hattie in his 2012 book, ‘Visible Learning for Teachers.’

I have been reading a lot about credibility recently because it’s a significant part of ‘A’ level Critical Thinking, which I am currently studying. This lead me to consider the importance of credibility in teaching and learning.

 

Dr. James McCroskey is credited with being one of the first people to popularise the idea of credibility in education. He identified the following key factors of credibility:

Trust
Learners must feel their tutor has their best interests at heart and that they genuinely care about their success.

Tutors who are consistent and fair with regard to discipline, include all learners in activities and use teaching resources based on sources that are trusted by learners, are more likely to develop trustworthiness. To develop deeper trust, tutors could also take an interest in their learner’s personal hobbies, interests and culture.

Competence
It is not sufficient for a tutor just to have mastered their specialist subject, it must also be delivered in a meaningful way. Therefore, they need good classroom management skills, the ability to answer questions and proficiency in explaining complex topics in a way learners will understand. Relevant personal experiences can also lead to more impactful learning.

In order to achieve these, session plans must be organised and detailed. Communication (both written and verbal) must be as free from errors as possible including SPaG and pronunciation.

Dynamism
Tutors must consider how they interact with their learners and aim to present their materials in an exciting and engaging way, eg not reading from PowerPoint slides which are packed with content.

This necessitates using a variety of sources, stories, visual aids and ICT, also varying vocal qualities, such as tone, rate, pitch, and emphasis.

Immediacy
This is about using techniques which reduce the distance between tutor and learner. These can be verbal – for example, using terms like “we” or “us”, or non-verbal – moving away from barriers such as desks or rearranging the group so they all feel included.

 

Further Reading
http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/ThePowerofTeacherCredibility.aspx
Hattie, J. Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning (2012)
“Make Them Believe in You” https://www.tes.com/article.aspx?storycode=6179294

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