According to Kendra Cherry, approximately 25 – 40% of the population identifies as being introverted (Cherry, 2021). She further goes on to say that “introversion is not the same thing as social anxiety or shyness”. Some educators design their classrooms to meet students’ different learning styles, however, they are not designed for the introverted learners (Hurley, 2014). Further, Bond (2018) tells us that many “introverts are more comfortable with communicating in writing than verbally”. For this reason, educators can setup online class discussion forums which will help introverted students to actively engage without feeling burned out or overwhelmed. Malone (2019) explains that introversion does not suggest being “shy, anxious, or lacking in confidence”; however, some introverts can be shy, just like some extroverts. Kuh (2009) argues that student engagement has “compensatory effects on grades” which can negatively impact student’s performance (as cited in Barkley & Major, 2020, p. 12).
It is critical for educators to recognize that they have introverted students in their classrooms who do not actively engage in class discussions. And this must not be translated as negative behaviour. These introverted students may sit quietly at the back of the class and not raise their hands to participate in the classroom discussion (Klein, 2019). She further goes on to say that these students like to “work slowly and deliberately”. Additionally, she tells us that most educators give about 3 seconds for students to answer questions which is not enough time for introverted students as they like to listen more than talk, and they need time to think before they answer the questions. While most students benefit from working on group projects, this may not benefit introverted learners as they like to “work alone” as opposed to “in group settings” (Stahl, 2020).
Instructors can use the following three strategies to provide different opportunities and types of class participation:
- Online participation is great method to get students to participate in a way that they are not judged compared to in-class participation. Such a method can include a virtual collaboration board where students can post their response in writing and can add pictures to illustrate their understanding. In addition, to create a wider class discussion, the teacher can ask students to respond to at least two of their peers’ posts to create a wider class discussion.
- The written participation method is also a great way to promote student participation. If students do not engage in the classroom or in small group discussions, educators may talk to these students to assess their learning needs and provide them with other opportunities such as writing reflective papers to contribute to class participation. Thus, this would allow them to actively participate without feeling intimidated.
- A small group discussion is another great way for introverted students to participate. The teacher can encourage all students to actively discuss with their group members. Additionally, the teacher can give some extra time so that introverted students can process their thoughts and ideas to make contributions. Finally, each group would have a non-introvert leader that can represent the group work to the class.
Barkley, E. F. & Major C. H. (2020). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bond, C. (2018, August 22). How To Survive (And Even Thrive) As An Introvert At Work. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/introvert-work-tips_n_5b7c6f44e4b0cd327df78c13
Cherry, K. (2021, February 20). How You Can Tell That You’re an Introvert. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-are-an-introvert-2795427
Hurley, K. (2014, November 4). The Introvert in the Classroom. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-introvert-in-the-classroom_b_5760950
Klein, A. (2019, June 26). How to Help Introverted Students Express Themselves in Class. Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/how-to-help-introverted-students-express-themselves-in-class/2019/06
Malone, T. (2019, July 24). Why Class Participation Grades Unfairly Punish Introverts. Introvert, Dear. Retrieved from https://introvertdear.com/news/introverts-speak-class/
Stahl, A. (2020, September 8). Introvert, Extrovert, And Ambivert… Which Job Is Right For You? Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2020/09/08/introvert-extrovert-and-ambivert-which-job-is-right-for-you/?sh=b27d85569931