Slight Modifications In Our Strategies Can Make A Whole Difference For Introverts

The power of introverts | Susan Cain Published on Mar 2, 2012

Watching Susan Cain’s video raised my awareness of the physiological differences between the introverted and extroverted brains and how this difference can influence students’ learning. Her message touched me and showed how educators are deeply involved in the current extroversion-bias. I was lucky to be selected to facilitate a discussion forum on the topic which gave me the opportunity to explore many resources that provide guidelines , teaching approaches, and instructional strategies that keep introverts in mind.

I have been teaching afternoon programming course for the last three weeks and I was determined to put theory into practice. As I started, I discussed briefly how temperament effect learning and then asked students to take an introvert-extrovert spectrum test available at Cain’s website ( and submit the results to me. I assured them the results will be totally confidential and my awareness of those results will help support them in a better way. I pressed the pause buttons at least twice during each session and put on a slide that has a single phrase “Silence can be gold” in attempt to balance classroom dynamics with solitude and give introverted students a couple of minutes to recharge. For the first time in my profession, I started to value means of engagement other than the verbal public performance, and at many points, I thought introverted students that seem to be disengaged and unmotivated, they might be participating in their own effective ways through active listening, taking good notes and even thinking and thus I would occasionally ask students to put some of their thoughts in a paper. While grading, in order not to conflate extroversion with academic ability, the students were given the choice how they desire their class participation to be assessed, they can be either graded for their verbal participation in class, or for their written responses via online discussion forums, journals, or reflection papers .

I attempted to reshape the interactive strategies of active learning so as to reap their benefits without placing the introverts in the class at a disadvantage. Let me give a simple example, if we use think-ink-pair-share strategy instead of think-pair-share, the added step i.e. ” ink ” will provide introverted students more time to jot down their ideas and thus they might feel more confident while sharing their thoughts with their partners. And thereby, in classroom discussions, I integrated technology by shifting few classroom discussions online to provide introverted students opportunities to participate into them, I also used “poll everywhere” where students have the ability to respond to questions on the screen by using the text messaging function on their phones. In group-work, I limited group size to 2-3 students and tried to assign each student the role that plays to each one’s strengths. Today, I used a technique explained in a video  shared by my Colleague Eleanor Knight  where the introverted student is given the role of the “wingman” in a group discussions, and thus introverted students facilitate and moderate the small group discussions, they don’t participate so much in the discussions real-time, but they observe the discussion, uphold the rules and etiquette of the discussion, and write a summary of the group’s ideas.

In attempt to apply the congruent choice and equitable approach to take risks  provided by Nicki Monahan. At the second week of my course, I provided a “delivery menu” (Martin, 2014, September) where students are allowed to choose from a range of options how to present their individual work, options can be oral presentation, online video, or written journal. This week, I encouraged students to take risks and stretch beyond their comfort zone and thus an introvert has to provide an oral presentation and extrovert would be putting his thoughts in a written journal.

Perhaps the modifications doesn’t seem much and I still need to challenge myself to find or come up with more, but I believe that those slight changes make a big difference to the introverted students.

Martin, E,L. (2014, September). Tips for Teaching: The Brain Game Teaching Strategies for Introverted vs. Extroverted Students. Equinox online. 43(3), 39-46. DOI:10.558/bsor.v43i3.46

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