As learners, we often focus on the subject matter and teaching methods when it comes to our education. However, there is a lesser-known but powerful factor that greatly influences our learning experience—the connection between us and our tutors. Scientific research has shown that a strong and positive relationship between a tutor and a learner can significantly enhance learning outcomes. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating concept of interpersonal synchrony and how it can contribute to a better learning experience. Let’s delve into the research that supports the impact of the tutor-learner connection.

Increased Engagement

When you feel connected to your tutor, you are more likely to engage actively in the learning process. A study by Hagenauer et al. (2015) explored the relationship between teacher emotions, the interpersonal teacher-student relationship, and learner engagement. It found that when teachers established positive relationships, showed enthusiasm, and demonstrated emotional support, learner engagement increased significantly. The results demonstrated that learners who reported higher levels of rapport with their tutors displayed greater engagement, including increased participation, asking questions, and taking risks in their learning.

Improved Motivation

A positive tutor-learner connection can boost your motivation to learn. The highly respected study by Ryan et al. (2000) provides a comprehensive understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. It emphasises that supportive relationships, such as those between tutors and learners, play a significant role in fostering intrinsic motivation, which is essential for long-term engagement and enjoyment of learning. The encouragement, personalised guidance, and belief in your abilities from a supportive tutor can ignite your passion for the subject and drive your eagerness to explore and understand it.

Enhanced Cognitive Processing

The quality of the tutor-learner relationship can profoundly impact your cognitive processing and information retention. A study conducted by Topping et al. (2007) investigated the impact of peer tutoring on cognitive processing and learning outcomes. The results suggested that peer tutoring interventions positively influenced learners’ cognitive abilities, including increased understanding, improved problem-solving skills, and enhanced critical thinking.

Effective Feedback and Guidance

The tutor-learner connection facilitates effective feedback and guidance, contributing to your growth and development. Researchers Allen et al. (2021) conducted a study examining the impact of the tutor-learner relationship on feedback acceptance. The results indicated that learners who felt connected to their tutors were more receptive to feedback, leading to greater improvement and skill development.

Emotional Support

Navigating the learning journey can be challenging, and emotional support plays a crucial role in overcoming obstacles. A study by Pekrun et al. (2017) explored the impact of the tutor-learner relationship on emotional wellbeing. The findings revealed that learners who experienced a positive connection with their tutors felt more supported, safe, and comfortable expressing concerns, seeking assistance, and persisting in their learning despite difficulties.

While we often focus on the content and teaching methods, it is essential to recognise the power of the connection between learners and tutors. Research consistently demonstrates that a positive and supportive tutor-learner relationship significantly enhances the learning experience. By fostering rapport, tutors create an environment that promotes engagement, motivation, cognitive processing, effective guidance, and emotional support. So, remember to nurture your connection with your tutor, as it can make a profound difference in your learning journey.


  1. Rogat, T. K., Adesope, O. O., & Bernard, R. M. (2019). The effects of rapport in online tutoring. Computers & Education, 137, 1-12.
  2. Richard M. Ryan, Edward L. Deci (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 
  3. Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 
  4. Allen, KA., Slaten, C.D., Arslan, G., Roffey, S., Craig, H., Vella-Brodrick, D.A. (2021). School Belonging: The Importance of Student and Teacher Relationships. In: Kern, M.L., Wehmeyer, M.L. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Positive Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
  5. Pekrun, R., Lichtenfeld, S., Marsh, H. W., Murayama, K., & Goetz, T. (2017). Achievement emotions and academic performance: Longitudinal models of reciprocal effects. Child Development, 88(5), 1653-1670.