Building Student Trust with Consistent Course Design

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

How can you communicate care, compassion, and empathy to your online students? In the transactional culture of our day which seems only interested in "what can you do for me," how can we powerfully demonstrate our commitment to our students? It is actually easier than you would suppose. It starts with trust.


Taylor Kendrick is an Instructional Designer and Quality Matters Coordinator at Samford University in the department of Online & Professional Studies. He has led seminars internationally in West Africa, London, and the United States. Taylor's course design and pedagogy are influenced by his unique experiences as a pastor and communications consultant of more than 30 years which allows him to approach course design with a learner-centric, empathetic lens. When Taylor is not assisting Samford's faculty to create amazing online and blended courses, he enjoys spending time with family, playing golf, and leading short-term international mission teams. Taylor holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from Auburn University, a Master's of Divinity from Samford University's Beeson Divinity School, and an M.S.Ed. in Instructional Design & Technology from Samford University. In his role as Quality Matters Coordinator, he assisted with the design and development of Samford's first two online courses to earn the Quality Matters (QM) Certification mark, the internationally recognized symbol of online and blended course design quality.

Extended Abstract

 “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen R. Covey

“Trust is earned when actions meet words.” – Chris Butler

“Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there’s no reason to continue.” – Anonymous

How can you communicate care, compassion, and empathy to online students? In this transactional culture of our day, which is only interested in "what can you do for me," how can we demonstrate commitment and empathy to our students? It is easier than you would suppose. It starts with trust.

Building student trust is vital to online learning. It contributes to student engagement, completion rates, and deep learning.  But how can trust and student agency be built in a digital environment? A 2014 research study found that consistent, high-quality course design is the top factor for building student trust in online courses (Wang, Ye., 2014). This session will examine the four levels of trust needed for student engagement and three strategies to build trust with students using a consistent, high-quality course design.


This session will begin with a short competitive game to introduce the concepts of trust, design, and consistency (5 minutes). After the presentation (25 minutes), attendees will collaborate to construct strategies for building student trust using consistent course design models (10 minutes). The session will wrap with a Q&A (5 minutes). Attendees will be provided with examples and a facts sheet on how to implement a consistent course design in their own courses. The presentation slide-deck along with all presentation documents will be made available via QR code.


This session will inform faculty, instructional designers, and administrators on how to develop courses that build engagement, deep learning, and contributes to higher completion rates. At the end of this session, attendees will be able to identify and implement trust building course design strategies.