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How to Enhance the Learning Experience of Introverts and Extroverts

June 22, 2020


The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “introvert” as “a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone,” whereas an “extrovert” is a gregarious and unreserved individual.

While those brief characteristics help you sketch an outline of one’s identity, it’s far from being a finished portrait. In fact, most people possess a mixture of introverted and extroverted traits. Therefore, try not to fall into the trap of “black or white” labeling, although this article divides your students into two categories.

With that in mind, how can you help both groups achieve fruitful results, considering the contrasting differences in temperament? Your first inspiration comes from Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet—The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, who strongly believes that:

“Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway stage, for others a lamplit desk.“

Once you determine the type of environment in which your students thrive, you’ll be able to implement small, beneficial changes—no matter how rigid the program is. 

Start from the very source of enthusiasm—introverts get energy from introspective activities, such as exploring their imagination, while extroverts feel recharged by outer stimuli, for example, social interaction. 

What Motivates Introverts

Introverts work best when alone or in small groups. They often crave having their own mental and sometimes physical space to reflect quietly on tasks. As much as possible, offer them the needed time and soothing conditions to work in. As many are self-driven, you won’t have to intervene much, once the instructions are clear. Since they tend to be detail-oriented, they don’t mind working on minutious tasks, and many of them enjoy indulging in creative work.

What Motivates Extroverts

Unlike the introverted peers, extroverts love being in the center of attention. That’s one of the reasons why they accept leading roles without hesitation. They prefer activities that allow them to interact with others and they’re always up for a good challenge—especially when there’s a prize at stake. 

It is obvious that identifying the right motivational triggers for both will be difficult, yet not impossible. Embark on this journey and help them discover what their true potential is.

Four Ways to Enhance the Learning Experience of Introverts and Extroverts

Rethink Class Activities

Studies have shown that classes display a bias towards extroversion. You can address this imbalance by also taking into account the needs of those who are rather introverted. Therefore, integrate a mixture of sociable and quiet activities.

One beneficial exercise you can try in class is think-pair-share. This activity encourages students to think individually and it engages them in comprehending the reading material.

It starts with the teacher asking questions about a text that students had to read quietly. But instead of sharing their answers with the whole class, they will be asked to give a reply to their partners.

It won’t make much of a difference to extroverts, but introverts will find it easier sharing responses with people they are close to.

If technology allows it, along traditional methods, embrace the online ways of getting your introverted students’ input. While quiet in class, introverts have an affinity for expressing ideas from the comfort of their homes, especially in a written or an artistic form. 

Enhance Empathy

You can contribute to your students’ wellbeing, but they should also make the effort to be open and accepting to one another in the first place. The school’s therapist can shed some light on the different temperament types and how they bring their own important contribution. 

You can set your own example by recognizing loud and clear efforts, as well as quiet achievements. Just keep in mind that extroverts love being complimented in front of the class, unlike introverts, who prefer receiving praise in private.

Introduce Quiet Time

You might think that this only advantages introverts, but if it comes in moderate amounts, extroverts might also find it useful. From time to time, instead of asking your students to give answers on the spot once you ask a question, make it clear that you expect them to think silently for a few moments and share their thoughts after that. That way, introverts won’t feel pressured and extroverts will work on building their reply. 

Another rule to consider would be that once one has spoken, he/she should refrain from further contributing to the same topic.

Take Education Outside the Classroom Walls

From time to time, a change is welcome and needed. Integrating refreshing activities such as walks in nature or visits to museums might be fun for extroverted explorers and beneficial for curious introverts. 

You can also introduce “alone time” by allowing students to work outside, in the garden, multimedia room, or in any other place where they feel recharged. 

Final Thoughts

We all need to embrace others’ way of functioning and appreciate them for their true selves—introverts contribute to society through unique creativity and a meaningful way of connecting with people. Extroverts tend to be bold, inspiring leaders. You won’t change the world through this empathic perspective, but you will help your students feel seen and appreciated—and that’s pretty close.