Introverts and Extroverts in the Classroom

As a result of my recent reflection on introverts, I want to be sure that I plan to help personalities across the entire introvert/extrovert spectrum be comfortable in my classroom.  This gives me great reminders and places to start….


Ultimately, it is important to find ways to allow each individual to shine – in a way that makes sense to them.



Reflection on The Power of Introverts


In this reflection, I will discuss the issues brought forward in Susan Cain’s (2012) TED talk entitled The Power of Introverts.  This thought-provoking and poignant talk provided a multitude of worthwhile facts on what is seen as the introversion/extroversion dichotomy.  One-third to one-half of people are introverts, but many of them feel that the quiet, introverted way is not appropriate, and they spend much time trying to pass as extroverts.  Cain describes her journey as an introvert from a time at summer camp to the journey of writing and promoting a book on the topic. She believes we need to allow introverts to do “what they do best” and makes a call for three things: time away from constant group work, time for personal revelations, and time for everyone to share what they have to offer to the world.  I will reflect on this introvert/extrovert personality trait from a personal point of view and also reflect on its impact in the classroom.


This talk reinforced my belief that I am an introvert.  Many people who only know my work or volunteer persona are often surprised to hear this.  My close friends and family members understand and know this is the truth.  I crave alone time.  I am very happy to be by myself.  Have you ever seen the Facebook ads with a picture of a cabin in the woods with a caption “Could you live here for 3 months alone for $100 000?”.  I wouldn’t hesitate!  My husband is an extrovert, and we do have to negotiate how to manage social engagements.  At times, I am keen to participate.  Other times, I am happy for him to go solo.  Knowing the basic premise of the introvert/extrovert definitions helps us to support each other and our sometimes very distinct needs.

I often wonder if I am becoming more of an introvert as I get older.  I don’t remember craving alone time so much when I was younger.  I self-identify often these days and am accepting of what and who I am- proud even.  I have come to a place where I seldom participate in events that I am not interested in, but there are plenty of times when I do want to be involved.  I choose carefully.  The balance is very comfortable for me.

This morning, my son (13 years old) asked me what this paper was about.  I asked him if he knew what introverts and extroverts were, and he replied with a very eloquent and accurate answer.  Then he said, “I am definitely an introvert…but I love group work.”  When I asked why he replied that he liked it because he got to work with others on bigger projects but focus on what he was best at.  I think he’s got a good balance figured out too.  It’s unfortunate that there are so many people who are not comfortable with their own identities and are not supported for, or encouraged to embrace, their own strengths.


Many people misunderstand this character trait.  Introverts are not necessarily shy.  I read some of the comments responding to Cain’s TED talk; one person said she spent “19 years of my life being ashamed of it.”.  Cain also alluded to this idea when she admitted she “made these self-negating choices [to behave as an extrovert] so reflexively that I wasn’t even aware I was making them”.  A basic google search gave some explanation to these feelings of negativity.  Oxford dictionary (n.d.) defines an introvert as a “shy, reticent person”.  Thankfully, the Urban dictionary (n.d.) is more inclusive and recognizes more components of the truth; it says introverts may have great social lives, but they need time alone to reenergize after those encounters.  They enjoy and seek out solitude and like to think and be alone. The key factor that is vital to understanding the implications of introversion is about how they respond to social stimulation. Introverts harness energy from within themselves, feel drained by too much outside stimulation, and recharge with time alone.  They prefer to cultivate a few close friendships and prefer to learn through observation (Schmitt 2015).  Since introversion has such an impact on my life, how I feel about my interactions with others, and how I take on the world, I realize I should definitely invest some time thinking about different personalities in my classroom.  How do my teaching style, instructional activities, and assessment and evaluation choices impact on the various personalities in Speechreading?

In my Speechreading courses, we have recently begun to talk about conversation styles, personality, and the continuum between introversion and extroversion.  My students are typically surprised to find out that I am a self-proclaimed introvert, perhaps because, in my classroom, I am comfortable, confident, and personable. Occasionally they actually seem relieved to be told that it is acceptable!  Until our discussion, many still believe that being an introvert means you are shy.

There are many sites that provide guidance on how to address the differing needs of both introverts and extroverts in the classroom and how to help both personality types do their best work (Higgin 2017, Shmoop Editorial Team 2008, and Thompson 2012).  These tips give guidance on how to create a balanced classroom, for example: provide choice, embrace back channeling through digital options, redefine participation, be mindful of how class discussions are moderated, allow time to think, and be cognizant when you set up your physical space.  It is vital to think about all the students’ needs and provide options that support the whole spectrum of personalities.


This reflection has made some things clearer for me. I will definitely continue to self-identify as an introvert, both socially and in the classroom.  I want to make sure that I promote the true definition and what that means.  I will also support my son to continue to be a proud and confident introvert.

I am committed to making changes in my teaching environment regarding this topic of introversion.  I want to address both instructional strategies and assessment/evaluation procedures.  I want to make a commitment to continue to use a variety of instructional activities that support the learning journey of both sides of the spectrum.  Further examination of the sites referenced above will provide excellent guides in this respect.  Evaluation of class participation is a large part of the Speechreading course.  Although I don’t feel that I have been harsh on the more thoughtful and quiet students, I need to be sure the evaluation criteria are fair.  I want to continue and perhaps expand the use of reflection in my courses, to capture these thoughtful insights.  When you know better, you need to do better.

In my classroom, the learners may need encouragement to reflect on their own personalities, not only in regards to their social beings but also in thinking about any impact on becoming a more effective communicator when hearing loss is in play.  I need to do more research about the impact of hearing loss related to introversion and extroversion.  We had an interesting impromptu discussion on this topic in class last week.  I need to follow-up to give the discussion more theoretical and research depth to support the experiential stories and provide a more solid foundation going forward.

Finally, I want to encourage my students to identify their strengths and embrace them, whatever they may be.  As Cain (2012) promotes, take a good look at what’s inside “your own suitcase” and figure out why you put it there.  Everyone needs to open up their suitcase and share with the world what they have to offer.


Cain, S. (2012, March 02). The power of introverts.  Retrieved April 13, 2017, from

Higgin, T. (2017, January 11). 5 Classroom Strategies That Help Introverts and Extroverts Do Their Best Work. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Oxford Dictionaries – Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Schmitt, P. (2015, April). How Personality Type Affects Your Student’s Experience in the Classroom | Parents Newsletter. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). The Differing Needs of Introverts and Extroverts in the Classroom. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Thompson, S. (2012, January). Introvert? Extrovert? Tips for a Balanced Classroom. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Urban Dictionary, April 26: introvert. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from

Forums: Participating and Moderating



This is my first time being involved in an online forum.  Although I was intimidated to jump in and participate in the various forums, I did so from the beginning of my second week of the course, and I discovered that it is really just that initial post that is the most difficult.  I have continued to read the forums daily (much easier to go in daily and have new posts highlighted online), follow through on references, links, TED talks, and videos that my co-learners provide.  I make every attempt to get involved early in the forum’s timeframe, stay involved, and answer questions that moderators put forward.  I comment on others’ posts, share references to information that I have discovered, and relate my submissions to real-life personal and classroom experiences.

There are so many benefits to participating in the course forum.  The PIDP 3250 course forum has provided the opportunity to:

  • share ideas and get feedback from others interested in adult learning, but from many and varied perspectives
  • learn from others’ teaching experiences or thoughts
  • easily access the resources introduced by others
  • a sense of belonging to a community of learners


I am a little nervous about my upcoming task to serve as moderator.  I have learned through the past few weeks that I prefer when a forum has multiple sections and guiding questions, rather than one long and ongoing discussion.  I appreciate and feel more compelled to continue a discussion on a forum when the moderator comments on my post.  I will endeavour to post multiple sections/questions and reply as people post to encourage greater participation.


Digital Project Review: Learning from Mistakes

Jennifer Aarestad’s digital project on learning from mistakes as an instructional strategy provided strong support for this tool.

In order for us to learn from our mistakes, we need to change the way we think about mistakes.  We need to think about them rationally rather than emotionally.

Instructors role:

  • Recognize effort as success.
  • Be open about your own mistakes.
  • Encourage a non-judgmental atmosphere.
  • When students make mistakes, ask why and how they made the decisions they made in order to figure out how to move forward.
  • Encourage collaboration.  Learn from the mistakes of others.
  • Teach and model responsibility.
  • Promote deliberate practice to develop further learning.

Learners role:

  • Recognize that there is much to learn and ways to improve.
  • Have a growth mindset- belief that we can all improve and develop skills and abilities.
  • Accept responsibility and be accountable.

I liked the digital format of the Prezi and how the big picture was always present, and the presentation zoomed in to the various components. The message was very clear and well organized.

Easwari Thoreraj’s digital project also discussed learning from mistakes, and it introduced some additional information.

Many learners view their mistakes with negative emotions such as shame, unacceptance, sadness, and disbelief.  The human mind sees mistakes as pain.  Instructors must introduce the perspective of embracing mistakes.

I haven’t failed.  I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.     Thomas Edison

Ways to teach with mistakes:

  1. Have open discussions about mistakes.
  2. Acknowledge common mistakes, reflect on them and learn from them, thereby promoting an ‘I can fix it’ attitude.
  3. Allow learners the opportunity to make corrections to their mistakes before it is too late.
  4. Self-assessment is a great tool for placing the responsibility of learning on the learner.

Incorporating this strategy in the Speechreading class makes a lot of sense.  I plan to introduce a topic actually called ‘Learning from Mistakes’.  An important component of the Speechreading classes is learning how to both anticipate and repair miscommunications.  I like the idea of celebrating the biggest mistake and what was learned from it.  We already share experiences, but I now appreciate the benefit of calling a spade a spade.  The students often speak about ‘mistakes’ and times when they ‘did the wrong thing’ or ‘didn’t do anything, but wished they did’.  Let’s call it a mistake and turn the table on focusing on what was learned and what they would do differently next time.  Sharing these experiences is also vital.  The frustrations experienced by those with hearing loss is common.  Let’s explicitly share those frustrations, failures (and successes), and learn from everyone’s stories.  This is also an important concept to introduce so that the students continue to see their mistakes as positive opportunities as they carry on their journey of life-long learning and living with hearing loss.

This is such a perfect instructional strategy for the Speechreading class.  Don’t be greedy!  Share!  We can all benefit from sharing and learning from each other’s mistakes.


Reflection – for them and us

I’ve been reflecting on reflection.

I had never thought much about reflection as a learning process before the PIDP courses.  Of course, I think about what I read, experience, and think, but to do it in a directed and mindful way is not something that’s been in my repertoire.  In the beginning of my diploma adventure, the course-required reflections took quite a bit of time.  Due to the practice I’ve had in five courses, it’s not as onerous anymore.  I see the benefit rather than thinking of the work required!

The framework of the focused conversational model (ORID: objective, reflective, interpretive, decisional) is very helpful in guiding the thought and decision-making process.  I typically read or watch the target of the assignment and let that information bounce around in my head for a day or two.  The reflective part is more immediate- acknowledging the emotions and personal reactions that I feel.  I have discovered that even though I may not be actively thinking about it over that short time, I am often thinking differently about the topic or have more information to mull over when I sit down to move to the next steps.  This is where I research, see what others may have said about the topic, and get to the decisional phase – where I make decisions about options, priorities, and next steps.  This really is the ultimate goal of the task – to determine what changes will result from the reflection.


Because of my perceived growth with this method, I have decided to formally introduce the act of reflection to my students.  Initially, I gave them a journal at the beginning of the course as a place to capture their thoughts on their journey to becoming more effective communicators.  I have moved to giving them guiding questions for each of the ORID sections.  Next, I think I may give them an assignment for Speechreading that is similar to my experience in 3100 – I would provide a series of quotes on communication, hearing loss, assertive behaviour, etc. and ask them to pick a couple that resonate with them to reflect on throughout the semester.  It may initially seem like a chore, but I think the payoff of self-reflections and decision-making is worth it.  It makes the result of learning more explicit.

Digital Project Review: Triad Listening

Bryce Walker’s VideoScribe digital project on triad listening can be found here.

The basics: Three people- three roles- per triad:

  • Speaker: present clear ideas while supporting it with concrete examples
  • Reflective listener: actively listen and reiterate message back to the speaker
  • Referee: must enforce rules. Watches for interruptions, aggressive behaviour or speech, sarcasm, judgments, joking around.

As instructor, you must:

  • Explain why good communication skills are important to the class.
  • Describe how this activity is helpful and relevant
  • encourage them to take risks, say with they think and believe.

This works best in a classroom setting where you can have moderation and application.

All three roles must have active participants.  It’s important to rotate students through each of the roles to experience and benefit the various responsibilities.

This activity format would be appropriate and beneficial in the Speechreading class.  Since communication is often the vehicle we use for practicing communication strategies and assertive behaviour, triad listening provides the structure for multiple people to benefit from a conversation.  It is often difficult for the two initial participants (speaker and listener) to be aware of the strategies they use.  An added task for the referee could be to observe and comment on the strategies attempted to solve communication breakdowns and their perceived success.  This conversation and reflection help all involved to be aware of how effective their communication efforts are.



Reflection on Memory, Retention, and Hearing Loss


In this reflection, I would like to discuss memory and retention, as it pertains to students with hearing loss in my Speechreading classes.  In addition to short-term and long-term memory as discussed by Barkley (2010) in our textbook, it is important to remember the role of sensory systems as the precursor of the memory and retention process.  For the Speechreading students, each of these entities is important to consider when thinking about motivation, active learning, and engagement.


It is unfortunate that there is a bottleneck in the learning process for students with hearing loss.  They know it, and it definitely has an impact on their motivation and engagement in the classroom.  In fact, it has an impact of whether they take the leap to even put themselves in this role.  It is frustrating for my students to put themselves in the potentially intimidating role of learner, to be motivated and involved, and yet to struggle to cross that first hurdle of merely understanding what was said.  They live in a hearing world and are faced with these obstacles both in and out of the classroom.  My students have reported: “I just don’t remember things like I use to”, “It’s hard for me to be a student, because I just don’t learn like I did before”, “It’s exhausting to sit in a classroom and listen”, and “I feel like I’m not as smart as I use to be”.

I need to address many of these issues before the class even begins.  There is pressure to reassure them with details of the supportive and inclusive class, the practical learning objectives, and accessibility-focused classroom setup.  I need to understand these implications, accommodate challenges, focus on strengths, and help the students learn the skills that will help to overcome the communication obstacles they face in their daily lives.


A classroom is a place where we have the opportunity to take in new information, new perspectives, new insights.  There are many ways to access those opportunities, but for most of us, it is typically done through listening, discussion, and collaboration.  We know retention is greater when we are involved in active learning; when new material makes sense and it is deemed meaningful by the student, learning is more successful and retention is greatly improved (Barkley, 2010).  This is where hearing loss is often a significant detriment.

“When we want to remember (or learn) something we have heard, we must hear it clearly because memory can be only as clear as its original signal…muddy in, muddy out.”  Doidge (2011, p.68).  There are additional implications, one of which can be explained by an effortfulness hypothesis (McCoy, Tun, Cox, Colangelo, Stewart, and Wingfield, 2005).  Simply put, the more effort a person must use to hear and understand the message, the fewer processing resources available to transfer that information to short and long-term memory for later retrieval.  It’s no wonder students with hearing loss are aware of changes in their efforts and outcomes.

Students in my Speechreading class have long complained about having more trouble remembering things than they use to have: names, details from conversations, information from classes.  It makes sense to me.  I explain it to them: the more mental resources used to perceive and comprehend what is being said, the less resources available to process and remember.  If the speech is degraded or the environment unfavourable, their brain is working harder to merely process the sounds.  If the information cannot be accessed by the sensory memory, it complicates (or obliterates!) the processing that would occur in the working memory.  When this occurs, what happens to comprehension, memory and the effort put forth?  I usually explain this concept by talking about capacity.  If you have a certain capacity and more of it is depleted to understand the message, storing that information for later retrieval might not be possible.  Does that mean those with hearing loss aren’t capable of being good students?  Of learning?  Of course not.  This is a problem we can address.


What does this mean to adult learners who have hearing loss?  I think it means that the issue needs to be acknowledged and addressed from multiple angles.  The instructor, the course material, and the student need to take this into consideration.

In my classroom, I think most of this responsibility falls to me.  Here are some choices I can make to address this issue and reduce the impact of hearing loss on memory, retention, and learning:

  • ensure potential students are comfortable and have any questions answered before the course begins.  A calm and relaxed student will likely hear and understand better.
  • be an effective communicator throughout the course.  Speak slowly, clearly, and with appropriate intonation and pauses.  Use my microphone consistently.  Set a good example and be an exemplar of what can happen when the input is not effortful.
  • encourage and support all students to be effective communicators.  They should face one another, speak as they wish to be spoken to, and use the tabletop mics.
  • provide a hearing-accessible teaching environment.  The tables and chairs should be arranged for maximum viewing, in a quiet room, with one speaker at a time.
  • ensure the content is relevant and practical.  This is always important, and even more vital here.
  • arrange learning opportunities that do not rely only on audition, if possible, to reduce the effort to comprehend (less lecture, more activities), e.g. focus on lip reading, facial expressions, or body language.
  • provide handouts for topics covered in class and provide handouts prior to class for those who have significant speech discrimination problems. If they have pre-read the material, they will be more familiar with the concepts.
  • ensure that I explain the concepts discussed in this reflection to be students (e.g. memory, effortful hypothesis, retention).  They appreciate knowing the physiology and neural explanations of what they are experiencing.  This allows them to understand what is happening to them and explain it to others.
  • research neural plasticity to find a level of explanation appropriate for the Speechreading students.  Our brains are changing in response to our learning.  Lifelong learning is good for our brains and our bodies, and how we hear (or don’t hear) plays role in this.
  • encourage sharing of resources about all aspects of hearing loss and learning.  More often now, students are coming to class and wanting to discuss books like The Brain that Changes Itself (Doidge, 2011).
  • ensure that the instructional activities I choose are helping the students to attach the new information to past experiences and what they already know.  This promotes retention and may be a good reason to promote reflection journals or introduce learning logs.
  • ensure the material is understood and sufficient opportunities to practice the learned behaviours occur.
  • use assessment and feedback to promote learning, with an emphasis on being authentic and formative.
  • teach metacognitive skills to give students an appropriate framework to make sense of and remember new information.  For example, addressing the organization of prior knowledge and providing a consistent framework for new material within the Speechreading course (e.g. Environment, Speaker, Listener, Message is a common mantra in my course).
  • As discussed in Barkley (1993), try to involve body, heart, and mind in learning.  Acknowledge the impact of motivation and engagement and recognize that students are more likely to remember information when they have an emotional investment in it and/or psychomotor or procedural memory for it.

These choices and decisions have a significant impact on the level of engagement and the retention of learning in the Speechreading courses.  While the list is extensive, ensuring these conditions are met is mutually beneficial.  Working with an informed student allows us to highlight factors that are beneficial and talk realistically about expectations and challenges.  A collaborative approach to this problem makes the course more effective and enjoyable for all involved.


Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: a handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Doidge, N. (2011). The brain that changes itself. Australia: SBS.

Mccoy, S. L., Tun, P. A., Cox, L. C., Colangelo, M., Stewart, R. A., & Wingfield, A. (2005, January). Hearing loss and perceptual effort: Downstream effects on older adults’ memory for speech. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A, 58(1), 22-33. doi:10.1080/02724980443000151

Questioning Techniques

To be honest, I haven’t really thought much about what kind of questions I ask in class.  I ask whatever seems relevant and right at the time.  The course forum on questioning techniques has definitely helped me to think more deeply about this process.  I’m thinking about the various reasons why I ask questions.  Often it is to ask about their experience in certain communication situations, to encourage them to think critically about a situation and give feedback, or to ask them for real-life suggestions to use for group problem-solving.  I also believe that questioning can help steer the lesson in the direction you intend it to go or away from a direction that you don’t!

Thinking about Bloom’s Taxonomy with respect to questioning techniques (lower cognitive versus higher cognitive questions) is also useful to help maintain alignment between the learning objective, the potential assessment, and the instructional strategy.

The placement and purpose of questions and the timing allotted for someone to start answering and finish answering are all important considerations in the classroom.  There are many benefits to students when this is done correctly.  For example, it allows them to participate more fully, think more deeply, and formulate more complete answers.  Since I have a small group, it is possible to make eye contact with each student to gauge their willingness and readiness to answer – this is more likely to happen with a more vital higher cognitive question.

Effective questioning helps to connect the students to the lesson, to each other, to the overall learning objectives.  It’s worth thinking about!