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I think my teacher prefers Extraversion. Now what?

I think my teacher prefers Extraversion. Now what?

By Catherine Rains 

Once students have made an educated (and most likely accurate) guess on whether a particular teacher prefers Extraversion or Introversion, their next step is to identify specific ways to be successful in both types of classrooms. Obviously, it will take less energy for students to be in a classroom taught by someone who shares their preference for E or I, and they will mostly likely enjoy this type of classroom more. However, since individuals in the United States are split close to 50/50 on E or I, chances are good that students will spend 50% of their college career being taught by their opposite preference (and sometime in the future be supervised in a job by their opposite preference). Learning how to appreciate opposite preferences, and thrive when working with them, is not just a college survival skill—it’s a life skill.

So how can you help students thrive, or at the very least feel comfortable, in both E and I classrooms? In a workshop/classroom setting, I begin by separating students into E and I preference groups. Then I give each group the task of identifying how they can be successful when being taught by teachers with the same preference, which is usually fairly easy for them to do. Next, I have each group share their success strategies with students of the opposite preference, providing ideas on how to adapt their learning style when being taught by faculty members who don’t share their E or I preference.

The following are common responses I’ve heard from students, faculty, and college counselors who have participated in this type of activity over the years. Let’s start with faculty who prefer Extraversion.

How can students who prefer Introversion thrive in classes taught by teachers with the opposite E or I preference?

  • Read ahead on the topic for the upcoming class and formulate a list of comments and/or questions that you could add to the class discussion. Make a goal of how many you will ask during class. Push your comfort zone by asking at least one question per class.
  • If you don’t have a question, or are still formulating a question, nod your head and keep eye contact with the teacher so he or she knows you’re still engaged.
  • If other students are interrupting a teacher to ask questions, or are asking questions without raising their hand first, you do the same. You might not have a chance to show that you are engaged because Extraverted students could monopolize the teacher’s attention. This is particularly important if class participation is part of the teacher’s grading system.
  • Talk to teachers before and/or after class to let them know that, while you might be quiet in class, you are still interested and engaged. Ask them for alternative ways to earn “class participation” credit in addition to talking in class. This act alone could show teachers that you are engaged in their class, without your having to draw attention to yourself during a lecture or class discussion.

What other suggestions do you have for students who prefer Introversion to make a positive impression on faculty members with a preference for Extraversion? Please add to the discussion in the comment section.


Read Catherine’s other blogs in this series:

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