Building on Trust in a Complex World: Educational Research and Technology

Building on Trust in a Complex World: Educational Research and Technology

John A. Henschke (Lindenwood University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch010


The author began researching trust in the late 1980s. The technology of his practice and research converged in an instrument which indicated the strongest factor being “teacher trust of learners,” and which he sought to enact in practice as “my trust of learners” were quite consistent with each other. This instrument has been used in 16 doctoral dissertations with findings of the strongest factor being “teacher trust of learners,” including a study indicating the technology of his scholarship and practice being congruent. Trust is indicated in some of the general adult education literature, even in a highly unlikely place like a very brutal prison with its culture being transformed into a very humane place. To build upon the trust factor, the growing suggestions of the literature call for more research into the technology and practice of developing and advancing the reciprocal relationship of trust between faculty and learners.
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Knowles (1970, 1995) provided the most articulate expression and most complete understanding of andragogy from the American perspective. The structure of the theory is comprised of two conceptual foundations: The learning theory and the design theory. The learning theory is based upon adults’: (a) need to know a reason that makes sense to them; for whatever they need to learn; (b) have a deep need to be self-directed in learning; (c) enter a learning activity with a quality and volume of experience that is as resource for their own and others’ learning; (d) are ready to learn when they experience a need to know, or be able to do, something to perform more effectively in some aspect of their life; (e) are orientated to learning around life situations that are task, issue- or problem centered, for which they seek solutions; and, (f) are motivated much more internally than externally.

Knowles’ (1970, 1995) conceptual foundation of the design theory is based in a process, and is not dependent upon a body of content, but helps the learner acquire whatever content is needed. The components of the design process are: (a) preparing the learners for the program; (b) setting a climate conducive to learning (physically comfortable and inviting; and psychologically – mutually respectful, collaborative, mutually trustful, supportive, open, authentic, pleasurable, fun and human); (c) involving learners in mutual planning; (d) involving learners in diagnosing their learning needs; (e) involving learners in forming their learning objectives; (f) involving learners in designing learning plans; (g) helping learners carry out their learning plans; and, (g) involving learners in evaluating their learning outcomes. The item that ‘jumped out’ and caught my eye, which I finally considered most important, was the ‘mutually trustful’ aspect of the learning climate. However, I published some writing on preparing teachers of adults (Henschke, 1987) and developed the instrument (Henschke, 1989) mentioned above which became known as the Modified Instructional Perspectives Inventory (MIPI), with the ‘teacher trust of learners’ becoming the strongest factor in the instrument. I identified the eleven items that comprise this factor and illustrate those facilitators of learning who believe, internalize, and enact the foundation of trust will:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reciprocity: Mutual sharing relationships.

Integrity: Competence, unified, rightfulness, whole, disclosure, justice.

Trust: Belief, faith, certainty, confidence, assurance, dependence, credence.

Social Capital: “The Web of collaborative relationships between citizens that facilitate resolution of collective action problemsand, “those voluntary means and processes developed within civil society which promote development for the collective whole.”

Congruence: Agreement between scholarship and practice, responsible, consistent.

Trustworthy: Believability, moral, truthful, honest, dependable, reliable.

Dependability: Stability, seriousness, permanence, harmony, discipline, equilibrium.

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