two students. They both receive an 80 as their final course grade. Ideally,
that number should reveal what each student did or did not
understand about the content and demonstrate her ability to perform particular
skills. But what happens when the teacher includes “class participation” as 25%
of the grade? Student A might have received a 90 on the final comprehensive
exam or project, which assesses content and skills. Or maybe Student A received
a 65 but, due to constant participation in class, benefited from a boost to her
grade combines evidence of learning with class participation, its meaning is
distorted—not only for students, but also for teachers, parents, and institutes
of higher education. If grades should primarily communicate student
achievement, how is one grade that includes participation and achievement
to be clearly interpreted?
suggest that teachers stop counting class participation as part of a student’s
grade—a move that not only increases transparency about actual learning
but also acknowledges introverted students.
When class participation becomes mixed into one
grade with academic achievement, overall academic grades no longer communicate
what we believe they should communicate: evidence of learning. Instead,
participation becomes a motivator for a portion of expressive, extroverted
students and a roadblock for less verbally communicative, but no less
knowledgeable or interested, learners.
learning targets is assessed separately from habits of scholarship (sometimes
called habits of work), which include qualities like responsibility, revision,
participation, or preparedness. These
habits are articulated so that “students know what behaviors are expected and what they
look and sound like in the classroom.”In this way, all learners have a clear vision of how
achievement is determined and an understanding of their roles in contributing
to their successes.
Including participation into a grade
that is intended to reflect evidence of learning results in a murky
understanding of students’ achievement. What part of the grade reflects actual
knowledge or skill, and what part is participation or effort? The traditional approach
to including participation into one letter or number grade also reinforces
classroom participation that supports superficial conversation—talking for the
sake of “earning points.” It penalizes the quiet, introverted student, who
might be listening and creating space for thinking and reflection. When we
grade learning separately from participating, we offer teachers the opportunity
to create a classroom structure where listening is as valuable as speaking and
where the meaning of a grade becomes clear to students, teachers, and families.
“Think, Pair, Share.” This technique has become one of the
most important tools in my teaching toolkit as it promotes collaboration and
peer-to-peer learning among all students. Susan describes it beautifully, so
here’s her explanation:
The teacher poses a question to the
class and asks students to first reflect on or write down their answer, and
then share it with a peer. Sometimes a shy student can find confidence through
the encouragement of a single peer before sharing his idea with the larger
Some strategies this author, as a teacher, uses in his class:
I allow students time to prepare, and even rehearse, what they want to say. It isn’t simply a matter of a student being shy or outgoing. Introverted students often need the chance to process their ideas and thoughts before expressing them to a group.
I understand that equity and equality aren’t the same in class discussions. While I require all students to participate at some point, I give students the permission to decide the frequency and timing of participation.
I start with partner or small group discussions before moving into a whole class discussion. This allows introverts to think through the ideas in a safe place before moving toward the whole group.
I explore alternative methods of speaking up. I might allow introverted students to prepare, record, and edit a podcast. Or I’ll let students develop questions for a social media chat.
I recognize that active listening (the kind that quiet students often engage in) is also a vital part of participation.
I let students ease into participation. Many introverts need time to see what the group dynamics are before transitioning into discussion mode. This is why I avoid “ice breakers” at the beginning of the year. Most extroverts have broken the ice the minute they walked through the door, and many of the introverts are perfectly comfortable letting the ice melt slowly. I don’t usually require introverted students to speak up in class until the third or fourth week.
I conference ahead of time with students who are anxious. I affirm their courage in speaking up and allow them to share their frustrations with the situation.
I allow students to be uncomfortable. Even after I help students adapt, I may have some who resent speaking up. Then again, I may have students who hate silence. Nobody said learning was supposed to be comfortable.
I let students decide when they want to speak up. I tell students, “I want you to say something in our discussion.” I let them know what the topic will be ahead of time. When they’re ready, they raise their hands to speak up.
I give them an out. While participation is expected in my class, I will ultimately have a few students who simply refuse to talk in front of a group. I realize, though, that this is not an act of defiance. It is fear. I do what I can to make it safe for students to speak up. However, in the long run, I know that a student can only find his or her voice when motivated by desire and not compulsion.
In my own work, I suggest that we redefine what we mean by classroom participation. Teachers often define classroom participation as a verbal response that fits into a routine that the teacher has established. (Typically, the teacher asks a question, the student responds and the teacher affirms the correctness of the answer. Students are then said to participate.) But can students participate without speaking out loud? Should teachers consider the times that a student gives silent assent to a question or thoughtfully jots notes for a future essay as participation? Are these useful forms of participation? It is important to note that one student’s silence can enable another student to speak. Do students have a responsibility to contribute to the silence of a classroom so that others can talk, along with a responsibility to contribute verbally to the discussion? How might silence be re-framed as a “productive” or useful contribution to classroom classrooms? Finally, how to we create other contexts for participation such as multimedia projects where students “speak” through recorded text.
Lahey claims that she wants to prepare her students for the future where verbal participation is critical for their success. I suggest instead that we rethink how we understand students’ silences. I want us to remain cautious about labeling children as introverts, rather than understanding the larger contexts of how and why they choose to participate in certain ways. Otherwise, the particular contributions these students make to the classroom community may be unheard, unrecognized, and discounted. The absence of talk might lead a teacher to assume the absence of learning. It may be difficult for a student to escape the label of the “silent” student or the “introvert.”
There are potentially grave consequences for students when teachers do not understand their silence as a form of participation. Narrow interpretations of the meanings of silence can lead to false assumptions about student participation in classroom activities. For instance, students who are silent might receive low grades for classroom participation, when in fact they are actively engaged in learning. Rather than working to fix or change “introverts” I suggest we understand the various reasons students choose to participate verbally in classrooms or to refrain from such participation. Shouldn’t our goal as educators be to rethink our classroom as places that support all students to learn?
As someone who graduated from a university where many professors were so huge on class participation (some assigning up to 50-60% of a course grade towards class participation). I totally and completely agree with this author’s stand. First off, I think assigning a grade on how frequently someone speaks up in class, without even taking into account quality and content is extremely simplistic to me. Many times, people will just talk for the sake of talking. There are many ways of “grading” class participation (though I’m not for this idea at all) than simply basing it off just answering a question etc.
Secondly, it also goes to show how many schools/educators etc take a one size fits all approach towards educating students rather than thinking about and adopting different styles in class that would appeal to different types of students and learning orientations.
Third, it also shows how awfully misinformed many people out there when it comes to the concept of introversion/introverts. Lots of people just lump shyness or anti-social behaviour with being introverted and that always irks me. Plus the golden, oft-heard question: Why are you so quiet? The perception might differ culturally, but where I am from, the question often stems from a very judgmental, accusatory place, a you-are-so-quiet-you-arent-doing-something-right conformist attitude that I really dislike and I think needs to change.
As an INTP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things rationally and logically. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.
INTPs live in the world of theoretical possibilities. They see everything in terms of how it could be improved, or what it could be turned into. They live primarily inside their own minds, having the ability to analyze difficult problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations. They seek clarity in everything, and are therefore driven to build knowledge. They are the “absent-minded professors” who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions.
INTPs value knowledge above all else. Their minds are constantly working to generate new theories, or to prove or disprove existing theories. They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution. They seek patterns and logical explanations for anything that interests them. They’re usually extremely bright, and able to be objectively critical in their analysis. They love new ideas, and become very excited over abstractions and theories.
The INTP is usually very independent, unconventional, and original.They are not likely to place much value on traditional goals such as popularity and security. They usually have complex characters, and may tend to be restless and temperamental. They are strongly ingenious, and have unconventional thought patterns which allows them to analyze ideas in new ways. Consequently, a lot of scientific breakthroughs in the world have been made by the INTP.
Great Analysts and Abstract Thinkers – People with the INTP personality type view the world as a big, complex machine, and recognize that as with any machine, all parts are interrelated. INTPs excel in analyzing these connections, seeing how seemingly unrelated factors tie in with each other in ways that bewilder most other personality types.
Imaginative and Original – The many mental connections INTPs make are the product of an unrelenting imagination. INTP’s ideas may seem counter-intuitive at a glance and may never even see the light of day, but they will always prove remarkable innovations.
Open-Minded – INTPs couldn’t make so many connections and innovations if they thought they knew it all, instead, they are highly receptive to alternate theories, so long as they’re supported by logic and facts. In more subjective matters like social norms and traditions, INTPs are usually fairly liberal, with a “none of my business” sort of attitude – people’s ideas are what matter.
Enthusiastic – When a new idea piques their interest, INTPs can be very enthusiastic – they are a reserved personality type, but if another person shares an interest, they can be downright excited about discussing it. More likely though, the only outward evidence of this enthusiasm will be INTP’s silent pacing or their staring into the distance.
Objective – The INTP’s analysis, creativity and open-mindedness aren’t the tools of some quest for ideology or emotional validation. Rather, their objectivity comes from the ability to channel the truths around them, so far as they can be expressed, and they are proud of this role as a theoretical mediator.
Honest and Straightforward – INTPs don’t often go around intentionally hurting feelings, but they do believe that the truth is the most important factor, and they expect that to be appreciated and reciprocated.
Very Private and Withdrawn – While the INTP’s intellectualism yields many insights into their surroundings, their surroundings are ironically considered an intrusion on their thoughts. This is especially true with people. Therefore, INTPs are quite shy in social settings. More complicated situations such as parties exacerbate their shyness, but even close friends struggle to get into the INTP’s heart and mind.
Insensitive – Oftentimes INTP personalities get so caught up in their logic that they forget any kind of emotional consideration – they dismiss subjectivity as irrational, and tradition as an attempt to bar much-needed progress. Purely emotional situations are often utterly puzzling to INTPs, and their lack of timely sympathy can easily offend.
Absent-Minded – When an INTP’s interest is captured they tend to become forgetful, missing even the obvious if it’s unrelated to their current infatuation. They can even forget their own health, skipping meals and sleep as they muse.
Condescending – People with the INTP personality type take pride in their knowledge and rationale and enjoy sharing their ideas, but sometimes when trying to explain their ideas, they get frustrated. Sometimes simplifying things becomes insulting especially when they sense that the person has no real interest.
Loathe Rules and Guidelines – The INTP’s social struggles are partly a product of the desire to bypass the rules of social conduct. While this attitude enhances the INTP’s strength of unconventional creativity, it also causes them to constantly reinvent the wheel and to shun security in favor of autonomy in ways that can compromise both.
Second-Guess Themselves – INTPs remain so open to new information that they often never commit to a decision at all. This applies to their own skills as well; INTP personalities know that as they practice, they improve, and any work they do is second-best to what they could do. Unable to settle for second-best, INTPs sometimes delay their output indefinitely with constant revisions, sometimes even quitting before they ever begin.
INTP In Summary …
Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract; interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have the unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.
1. Ditch the beggar’s mindset Often, introverts go into a conversation with what I call the “beggar’s mindset”. That is to say we think that people are doing us a favor by talking to us. In the back of our mind, we are telling ourselves, “They don’t really want to talk to me, they’re just being polite.” When we think this way, we come off as either aloof, or insecure. Confident conversation skills begin with the right mindset. Instead of thinking that you are taking something from someone when you talk to them, imagine that you are the giver. Believe it or not, your time and attention are precious. When you go into a conversation knowing that you are offering someone a gift by being truly present with them, you naturally give off a self-assured vibe.
2. Give yourself permission to share. How many times have you been talking to someone just hoping that they would ask you the right questions? You waited for an invitation to share your dreams, passions, or something really cool that happened to you, but they didn’t ask. So, you didn’t share. The problem is that often people won’t give us a direct invitation to talk about ourselves. A lot of my students and coaching clients have told me they struggle with this. “I just let them steer the conversation,” they say, “if they don’t ask, I don’t tell.” I know you don’t want to become like those overbearing extroverts who over-share. Don’t worry, a few honest revelations about yourself will make you feel and appear more confident, which brings me to my next point …
3. A little honesty please. When talking to others it can feel like we have an invisible shield around us. Introverts are so used to protecting ourselves from energy vampires that we forget how to let our guard down. A little bit of straight up honesty is the best way to break down barriers quickly. You don’t have to get into the deep dark secret stuff. Share an honest opinion, or feeling. If you’re worried about being judged for your preferences, just say so. I have a friend who loves to drink the juice from the tuna can (ugh). The first time she did it in front of me, she said, “you might think this is gross, but I love to drink the tuna juice. So, if you think it’s gross, you better not look, because I’m gonna drink it right now.” Then she slurped it down without a hint of embarrassment. “Mmmm, I love it.” That not only showed confidence, but it was also endearing.
4. Take a deep breath and … Relax, for goodness sake! A lot of introverts get all tightly wound and worried in conversation. We have a tendency to overthink things. Being a confident conversationalist starts with getting out of your head and into the present moment. When you feel yourself starting to overthink things, take a deep breath, and relax into the now.
Open floor plans take years off our lives. If possible, give us our own space.
In planning employee bonding activities, look beyond the noisy “all-company mixers.” We can be intensely social, but prefer one-on-one or small group interactions.
If you want us to speak up at all-hands meetings, provide an agenda, and put us on it. We do best when we can think before we share our thoughts.
We don’t rely on external stimulation via ping-pong tables, sound systems, and snack areas. We can give you our best work while sitting in a room by ourselves.
Give us the freedom to structure our own days, and we’ll get the work done.
Recognize our good work through thoughtful gifts or simple acknowledgements, not public toasts.
Team travel takes energy. Socializing after all-day site visits or client engagements burns us out. Let us have down time we need.
“If you work in a space without privacy, quiet, or time for introspection, then you will have to deliberately counteract the adverse effects of this environment,” – Dr Arnie Kozak
"Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
“I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.” (Absolute truth)- Steve Wozniak