Middle-age, male, black professor teaching online

How to Establish Your Credibility in Online Courses

Credibility is crucial for student engagement and success, especially in an online course.

  • Establishing and maintaining credibility has a large average effect of 0.518 standard deviations improvement in learning (Finn et al., 2009).
  • This fact sheet provides actionable strategies to enhance your credibility and thereby improve student outcomes.

Effective Practices

1. Communicate Expertise

Highlight Qualifications: Briefly share your expertise and experiences relevant to the course material in your introductory video.

Stay Current: Continuously update your knowledge and share recent developments in the field with students. It helps cultivate the relationship and sparks curiosity about their field.

2. Show Enthusiasm and Passion

Express Enthusiasm: Use engaging language and show your passion for the subject in video lectures and discussions.

Share Personal Interest: Relate personal stories or experiences that connect with the course material.

3. Build Trust

Be Present: Regularly participate in discussions and respond promptly to emails and forum posts.

Maintain Consistency: Keep your promises and follow through on commitments, such as timely grading and feedback.

4. Foster a Positive Learning Environment

Encourage Questions: Create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussions.

Promote Inclusivity: Be respectful of diverse opinions and backgrounds, and ensure all students feel valued.

5. Demonstrate Organization and Clarity

Provide Clear Instructions: Ensure all assignments, due dates, and expectations are communicated clearly in announcements, discussions, and feedback.

Friendly, Clear Content: Be personable and use direct sentences and simple wording that all, even English Language Learners, can understand.

6. Practice Reflective Teaching

Solicit Feedback: Regularly ask for student feedback on the course and your teaching methods.

Reflect and Adapt: Use feedback to make improvements to the course content and your teaching style.

Show Gratitude and Action: When making improvements, credit student ideas, and do make adjustments to show the learning partnership.

7. Engage with Students

Female professor in front of a large monitor. She is actively engaging with her diverse, adult students through zoom. (DALL·E, 2024–04–19)

Personalize Interactions: Address students by name and reference their previous contributions where relevant.

Virtual Office Hours: Offer regular and flexible times for students to discuss concerns or seek clarification. Try using a video call to support.

8. Offer Support and Encouragement

Provide Resources: Notify students of additional learning materials and tutoring services.

Acknowledge Efforts: Recognize and praise student contributions and progress.

Check your Understanding

Here’s a short quiz that you can use to reinforce your understanding of the article. Feel free to take it many times.


Congratulations on passing the quiz on Establishing Credibility in Online Courses!

You’ve done a fantastic job demonstrating your understanding of key strategies to enhance instructor credibility, which is crucial for fostering engaging and effective online learning environments. Your success reflects a strong grasp of important concepts that will serve well in enhancing both student engagement and educational outcomes.

Keep up the great work, and continue to explore and apply these principles to make a lasting impact in your teaching practices! Revisit the quiz now and then to lock in your learning.

Thank you for taking the quiz on Establishing Credibility in Online Courses!

It looks like you might need a little more review on some topics, but don’t worry! This is a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how to enhance credibility and effectiveness in online teaching. Please consider revisiting the materials and don’t hesitate to reach out to exemplary faculty if you need any specific guidance or resources.

Remember, learning is a journey, and every attempt is a step towards mastery. We’re here to support you, so take your time to review the concepts, and when you’re ready, feel free to take the quiz again. You’ve got this!

HD Quiz powered by harmonic design

#1. Which of the following is a recommended strategy for communicating expertise?

#2. How can instructors demonstrate their enthusiasm for the subject?

#3. What does it mean to “build trust” in an online learning environment?

#4. How can instructors foster a positive learning environment?

#5. What does “demonstrate organization and clarity” entail?

#6. What is an example of reflective teaching practice?

#7. Which strategy is suggested for engaging with students?

#8. How can instructors offer support and encouragement?

#9. According to the article, what is crucial for establishing credibility?

#10. What is the reported effect size of establishing and maintaining credibility in learning?



Remember that establishing credibility is an ongoing process that requires effort, consistency, and a genuine interest in student success.

By adopting these strategies, you can build a strong foundation of trust and respect that will enhance the learning experience for your students.


Finn, A. N., Schrodt, P., & Witt, P. L. (2009). A Meta-Analytical Review of Teacher Credibility and Its Associations with Teacher Behaviors and Student Outcomes. Communication Education, 58(4), 516–537.

All images generated by DALL-E (2024–04)