The role of trust in higher education teaching

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The importance of trust to ‘good’ teaching in higher education is comparatively neglected compared to work focused on the use of techniques to develop active learning and reflective processes. This paper applies concepts from the management and marketing literature to identify why students entering higher education must do so largely on the basis of trust or a ‘leap of faith’. It also presents a set of 25 actions that can result in the erosion of student trust in university teachers based on McKnight and Chervany’s (2001) meta-categories – benevolence, integrity, competence and predictability. While the paper rejects an over-simplified analogy between higher education and other service industries, it is contended that identifying and closing expectation ‘gaps’ between students and tutors is an important means of retaining or regaining trust. It is concluded that trust is critical in understanding the meaning of ‘good’ teaching and that loss of trust has negative economic as well as social and ethical implications for the university. Copyright © 2009 Nagoya University.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNagoya Journal of Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Macfarlane, B. (2009). The role of trust in higher education teaching. Nagoya Journal of Higher Education, 9, 221-238.


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