Responding to introverted and shy students: Best practice guidelines for educators and advisors
Marian Condon, Lisa Ruth-Sahd
York College of Pennsylvania, York, USA.
DOI: 10.4236/ojn.2013.37069   PDF    HTML     15,682 Downloads   27,471 Views   Citations


Experienced classroom educators are familiar with students commonly thought of as introverted or shy— the noticeably quiet students who are reluctant to speak in class, and generally shun the spotlight. Many educators find such students perplexing and frustrating because they rarely raise their hands in class, or engage in conversation afterward. It is difficult for educators to discern whether they are reaching such students or whether they are engaged or bored. Introverted students differ from their more extroverted peers in terms of information processing, classroom behavior, and preferences regarding assignments and activities. As educators, we often ask ourselves whether we are doing all we can, as educators and advisers, to foster such students’ learning and personal development, and this question is highly relevant in contemporary education. Introverts are thought to comprise approximately 40 percent of the student body. In addition, cultural background may foster behaviors similar to those observed in shy and/or introverted individuals. In this article, introversion, extroversion and shyness are compared and contrasted conceptually, as well as in terms of related social and academic behaviors and processes. The questions of whether introversion and shyness confer problematic traits, whether students should be helped to overcome or signature strengths, and whether they might be guided to develop further, are also addressed. Best practice guidelines intended to help nurse-faculty respond more helpfully to quiet students as educators and advisors are offered.

Share and Cite:

Condon, M. and Ruth-Sahd, L. (2013) Responding to introverted and shy students: Best practice guidelines for educators and advisors. Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 503-515. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2013.37069.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Schaubnut, N.A. and Thompson, R.C. (2008) MBTI type tables for occupations. CPP Inc., Mountain View.
[2] Pannapacker, W. (2012) Screening out the introverts. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 58, 1-9.
[3] Spence, L.D. (2012) Getting over learning styles.
[4] Cain, S. (2012) Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Crown Publishers, New York.
[5] Nelson, L.J., Padilla-Walker, L.M., Badger, S., McNamara-Barry, C., Carroll, J.S. and Madson, S.D. (2008) Associations between shyness, internalizing behaviors, externalizing behaviors and relationships during emerging adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 605-615.
[6] Li, Y.-S., Chen, P.-S. and Tsai, S.-J. (2008) A comparison of the learning styles among different nursing programs in Taiwan. Implications for Nursing Education, 28, 70-76.
[7] Jung, C. (1971) Psychological types. Collected works of C.G. Jung. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
[8] Wilt, J. and Revelle, W. (2009) Extraversion. In: Leary, M. and Hoyle, R., Eds., Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior, Guilford Press, Guilford, 27-45.
[9] Myers, I.B. and Briggs, P. (1980) Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Cavies-Black Publishing, Mountain View.
[10] Myers, I.B. and Briggs, P. (1995) Gifts differing: Understanding personality type. Cavies-Black Publishing, Mountain View.
[11] McCrae, R.R. and Costa, P.T. (1990) Personality in adulthood. The Guildford Press, New York.
[12] McLeod, S. (2010) Kolb-learning styles inventory.
[13] Little, B. (2011) Personal projects and free traits: Personality and motivation reconsidered.
[14] Aron, E., Aron, A. and Davies, K.M. (2005) Adult shyness: The interaction of temperamental sensitivity and an adverse childhood environment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 181-187.
[15] Miller, R.S. (2009) Social anxiousness, shyness, and embarrassability. In: Leary, M.R. and Hoyle, R.H., Eds., Handbook of Individual Differences in Social Behavior, The Guilford Press, New York, 176-191.
[16] Bortnik, K., Henderson, L. and Zimbardo, P. (2002) The shy Q, a measure of chronic shyness: Associations with interpersonal motives and interpersonal values. 36th Annual Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, 14-17 November 2002.
[17] Cheek, J.M. (1983) The revised cheek and buss shyness scale. Wellesley College, Wellesley.
[18] Ericson, P.M. and Gardner, J.W. (1992) Two longitudinal studies of communication apprehension and its effects on college student’s success. Communication Quarterly, 40, 127-137.
[19] Purdon, C., Antony, M., Monteiro, S. and Swinson, R.P. (2001) Social anxiety in college students. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 15, 203-215.
[20] Sheldon, P. (2008) The relationship between unwillingness to communicate and students’ facebook use. Journal of Media Psychology, 20, 67-75.
[21] McCrae, R.R. and Terracciano, A. (2005) Personality profiles of culture: Aggregate personality traits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 407-425.
[22] Sparks, S.D. (2010) Studies highlight classroom plight of quiet students. Education Week, 31, 16-17.
[23] Bond, M.H. (1993) Beyond the Chinese face: Insights from psychology. Oxford University Press, New York.
[24] Hutchinson, M. and Gul, F.A. (1997) The interactive effects of extroversion/introversion traits and collectivism/ individualism cultural beliefs on student group learning preferences. Journal of Accounting Education, 15, 95-107.
[25] Daly, J. (2004) Shying away.
[26] Susan (2012) Re: Introvert superpower: observing.
[27] Opt, S.K. and Offredo, D.A. (2003) Communicator image and Myers-Briggs type-indicator extroversion-introversion. The Journal of Psychology, 137, 560-568.
[28] Varela, O.E., Cater, J.J. and Michel, N. (2012) Online learning in management education: An empirical study of the role of personality traits. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 24, 209-225.
[29] The Master Educator (2007) Teaching students with different learning styles.
[30] Benton, T.H. (2004) Shyness in academe. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
[31] Isaacs, T. (2009) Introverted students in the classroom: How to bring them out.
[32] Delaney, J.G., Johnson, A.N., Johnson, T.D. and Treslan, D.L. (2010) Students’ perceptions of effectiveness in higher education. 26th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, University of Wisconsin.
[33] Wood, C. (2012) Abstract academic: Introverts unite! When it’s convenient, that is. The Signpost, Weber State University.
[34] Bosacki, S.L., Coplan, R.J., Rose-Krassner, L. and Hughes, K. (2007) Elementary school teachers’ reflections on shy children in the classroom. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 57, 273-287.
[35] Moehl, L. (2011) Exploring the relationship between Myers-Briggs type and instructional perspectives among college faculty across academic disciplines. Mid-west research-to-practice conference in adult, continuing, community and extension education. Lindenwood University, St. Charles.
[36] Tyron, B. (2005) Lessons for the academic introvert. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52, 2-3.
[37] Brookfied, S.D. (2012) Teaching for critical thinking: Tools and techniques for helping students question their assumptions. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
[38] Yeun, C.N. and Lavin, M. (2004) Internet dependence in the collegiate population: The role of shyness. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7, 379-383.
[39] Stritzke, W.G.K., Nguyen, A. and Durkin, K. (2004) Shyness and computer-mediated communications: A selfpresentational theory perspective. Media Psychology, 6, 1-22.
[40] Overbaugh, R.C. and Lin, S.Y. (2006) Student characteristics, sense of community, and cognitive achievement in web-based and lab-based learning environments. Journal of Research on Technology, 39, 205
[41] Cohen, M.X., Young, J., Baek, J.M., Kessler, C. and Ranganath, C. (2005) Individual differences in extraversion and dopamine genetics predict neural reward response. Cognitive Brain Research, 25, 851-861.
[42] Nettle, D. (2007) Personality: What makes you the way you are. Oxford University Press, New York.
[43] Howard, R. and McJillen, M. (1990) Extraversion and performance in the perceptual maze test. Personality and Individual Differences, 11, 391-396.
[44] Berden, L.E., Keane, S.P. and Calkins, S.D. (2008) Temperament and externalizing behavior: Social preference and perceived acceptance as protective factors. Developmental Psychology, 44, 957-968.
[45] Grant, A.M., Gino, F. and Hoffman, D. (2011) Reversing 57: The extraverted leadership advantage: The role of employee productivity. Academy of Management Journal, 54, 528-550.
[46] Grady, J.S., Karraker, K. and Metzger, A. (2012) Shyness trajectories in slow-to-warm-up infants: Relations with child sex and maternal parenting. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 33, 91-101.
[47] Moutafi, J., Furnham, A. and Crump, J. (2003) Demographic and personality predictors of intelligence: A study using the Neo personality inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. European Journal of Personality, 17, 79-94.
[48] Murberg, T.A. (2010) The role of personal attributes and social support factors on passive behavior in classroom among secondary school students: A prospective study. Social Psychology of Education, 13, 511-522.
[49] Furnam, A., Chamorro-Premuzik, T. and McDougal, F. (2002) Personality, cognitive ability, and beliefs about intelligence as predictors of academic performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 14, 47-64.
[50] Harrington, R. and Loffredo, D.A. (2010) MBTI personality type and other factors that relate to preference for online versus face to face instruction. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 89-95.
[51] Bart, M. (2011) Shy students in the classroom: What does it take to improve participation?
[52] Shultz, K. (2009) Rethinking classroom participation: Listening to silent voices. Teachers College Press, New York.
[53] Bainbridge, C. (n.d.) Readers respond: If introverts ran the world.
[54] Stowell, J.R., Oldham, T. and Bennett, D. (2010) Using student response systems (Clickers) to combat students’ conformity and shyness. Teaching of Psychology, 37, 135-140.
[55] Senechal, D. (2012) Republic of noise: The loss of solitude in schools and culture. Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham.
[56] Schaeffer, A. (2013) The effects of incivility on nursing education. Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 178-181.
[57] Roby, D.E. (2009) Educator leadership skills: An analysis of communication apprehension. Education, 129, 608-614.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.