Reflection on The Power of Introverts

Objective

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.

Reflective

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.

Interpretive

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.

Decisional

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.

References

Cain, S. (2012, March 02). The power of introverts.  Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

Higgin, T. (2017, January 11). 5 Classroom Strategies That Help Introverts and Extroverts Do Their Best Work. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/5-classroom-strategies-that-help-introverts-and-extroverts-do-their-best-work

Oxford Dictionaries – Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Grammar. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/

Schmitt, P. (2015, April). How Personality Type Affects Your Student’s Experience in the Classroom | Parents Newsletter. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from https://parent.wisc.edu/newsletter-story/how-personality-type-affects-your-students-classroom-experience/

Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). The Differing Needs of Introverts and Extroverts in the Classroom. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.shmoop.com/teachers/classroom-management/students-classrooms/introverts-vs-extroverts.html

Thompson, S. (2012, January). Introvert? Extrovert? Tips for a Balanced Classroom. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.canadianteachermagazine.com/archives/ctm_teaching_ideas/janfeb2012-introvert-extrovert.shtml

Urban Dictionary, April 26: introvert. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.urbandictionary.com/

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.

ORID-chart

http://blog.meeteor.com/blog/types-of-questions/

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.

Reflection on Memory, Retention, and Hearing Loss

Objective

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.

 Reflective

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.

Interpretive

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.

Decisional

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.

References

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

PIDP Reflection: Self-Efficacy

Objective

One quote from the text that captured my attention was “Motivation is the portal to engagement.” (Barkley, 2010, p. 15).  I will focus this reflection on the notion of motivation and, more specifically, self-efficacy in Bandura’s social cognitive theory (2017).  I will identify my personal reactions to the readings and these concepts, discuss the importance of self-efficacy in the learning environment of the Speechreading course I teach at VCC, and identify the ways I can promote these concepts in future classes.

 Reflective

 As I began reading the text from Barkley (2010), I was dismayed by the description of the attitudes of some of today’s students in the classroom; that is not my experience in Speechreading, and I would have a serious challenge teaching a group who was so apathetic or hostile.  I am grateful to be teaching the type of student who chooses my course due to their own motivation to learn how to communicate more effectively with hearing loss.  I’m honoured to be part of their journey, and we work together to explore insights about hearing loss and communication and frustrations with realities of life with hearing loss, towards a focus on problem-solving and solutions.  I am ultimately challenged to facilitate this process for my students.  When I put this in the perspective of self-efficacy, I believe I can impact their belief in their abilities, and affect their motivation to engage.  This, in turn, impacts their perspectives and their learning experience in the course.  If this is all true, shouldn’t I pay more attention to their motivations?  How can I affect their feelings of self-efficacy?  These concepts impact not only the students who register, but also those out in the community who might register in the future.  Perhaps they are not willing to register for this course because they don’t quite believe that they are capable of making the changes required to communicate more effectively.  How can I address these issues as well?

Interpretive

These insights into motivation and self-efficacy are significant for both the students and instructor.  Past students tell me this course has had a significant impact on their lives.  Communication is vital, and those with hearing loss often struggle to communicate and maintain connections to family, co-workers, and people in the community.  This course provides guidance on how to do this more effectively, but the students need to believe they can make that change.  Instruction in a class setting can initially be seen as a barrier for those with hearing loss – understanding in groups is challenging.  How could coming to group be an environment conducive to learning?  They have to believe they can negotiate this first hurdle to register for the course.  I must be clear about the positive classroom environment, the hearing accessibility, and the supportive nature of the course to entice some to take the leap to register.  An additional challenge in getting adults with hearing loss to register and participate is the robust finding that it can take up to 10 years for people to acknowledge hearing problems (Milstein and Weinstein, 2003).  There are social and cognitive issues at play here in addition to motivation and self-efficacy. Interestingly though, many students who have completed the course comment that they wish they had taken it sooner.  This is a significant observation for me; I should also find a way to reach the people who are not quite at the point of help-seeking on their own.  What approach would facilitate this leap?

For those students who register for the Speechreading course, they have recognized the potential of the course and its learning objectives and likely hold the belief that they can learn strategies and communicate more effectively.  I need to be aware of the impact I can have on their self-efficacy.  Bandura (2000, p.120) states:

“Efficacy beliefs affect self-motivation through their impact on goals and aspirations.  It is partly on the basis of efficacy beliefs that people choose what goal challenges to undertake, how much effort to invest in the endeavor, and how long to persevere in the face of difficulties.  When faced with obstacles, setbacks, and failures, those who doubt their capabilities slacken their efforts, give up, or settle for mediocre solutions.  Those who have a strong belief in their capabilities redouble their efforts to master the challenges.”

I need to be aware that the choices I make regarding instructional and assessment strategies most definitely impact the students’ notions of self-efficacy.  While self-efficacy is an internal concept, it is influenced by external forces.  McAlister, Perry, and Parcel (2008) discuss how self-efficacy can be developed or increased by several factors: mastery experience (simple tasks leading to more complex ones), social modeling (observing a good model who accomplishes a task), improving physical and emotional states (relaxed and rested states are best), and verbal persuasion and encouragement (positive reinforcement and feedback).

Decisional

 Moving forward, I see that I have two separate resolutions to address: one for the current students who find the course information and register on their own and a second for those adults with hearing loss who might be the potential students of the future.

This information and reflection have impressed upon me that students need to believe in their ability to succeed at a task and that this is even more important than their actual skill level.  I need to be mindful of the classroom setup, stress the importance of hearing accessibility and appropriate communication in the classroom, and provide a learning atmosphere that is positive and supportive.  I need to continue to encourage them to nominate two personal situations where they want to communicate more effectively, and to help them define what success means to them.  I must work with each student to discuss the steps to their success, provide role model behaviour and guidance, and encourage the students to be models for, and provide positive feedback to, each other.  I can identify their strengths and help them expand on those abilities.

I need to acknowledge that these concepts of motivation and self-efficacy impact the actions of potential students.  These prospective students need to see they can benefit from the Speechreading experience and, importantly, need to believe they can make positive changes related to their hearing loss and how they communicate.  Promotional material for the course needs to capitalize on success stories of past students, promote the mastery experience from simple to complex, and describe the supportive learning environment.  Guest lectures at community centres, senior centres, and health fairs can provide a brief hands-on experience, and the well-planned success, of a typical class.  Once these students find the Speechreading course, and are motivated and believe they can initiate change, it is my job to ensure their notions of self-efficacy are supported, and they are successful in achieving the learning objectives.

References

Bandura, A. (2000). Cultivate self-efficacy for personal and organizational effectiveness.  In E.A. Locke (Ed.). Handbook of principles of organization behavior (pp. 120-136). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

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

McAlister AL, Perry CL, Parcel GS (2008). “How Individuals, Environments, and Health Behaviors Interact: Social Cognitive Theory”. Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 169–188.

Milstein, D., & Weinstein, B. (2003). Amplification: the treatment of choice for presbycusis. Geriatrics and Ageing6(5), 19-21.

Social cognitive theory. (2017, March 12). Retrieved April 01, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_cognitive_theory