Supporting Introverts – To Question or NOT?

Question-markI absolutely support the idea that questioning can inspire gifted learners, but what about students who are more introverted? Viewing Susan Cain’s TedX Talk on “The Power of Introverts” made me reconsider the merit of questioning as a regular and essential strategy to promote learning. As of now, I don’t yet have it all sorted out with best techniques to effectively use questioning to engage introverted students. Perhaps the use of questioning is much less effective in helping introverts process and critically think through content and arrive at new knowledge

Strategies I plan to use include: getting to know my students early on and identifying whether a student is shy or has a tendency toward introversion. In doing so, the instructor can then tailor their approach to questioning for the introvert (e.g. sharing a question in advance of the session, giving pause, etc.).

But what I am now pondering is: Is it reasonable to expect that all students thrive on questioning? I’m beginning to see that it is a strategy that works well for extroverts who thrive on external stimuli; less so for introverts. Hence, our need to incorporate and thoughtfully plan to incorporate a myriad of learning activities and strategies to support student learning.

I located an interesting blog posting that summarized a forum “chat” on working with introverted students by Marisa Constatinides (2012), One strategy is to catch the student before they come in to class and discuss the topic and perhaps have them think through a few of the questions you might ask. Introverts need quiet time to re-energize and do their thinking. Although class time isn’t quiet time, at least it gives them some advance time (in their comfortable way) to ponder questions and formulate answers.

Until I learn more on this,…


Constatinides, M. (2012, June 28). Strategies for reaching out to introverted students in the language class. ELT Chat. Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “Supporting Introverts – To Question or NOT?

  1. Couple of random thoughts for you:

    Another method might be to ask the students to respond to questions in written form on their own. Just a few minutes to write some things down. This idea can be combined with some technology where the answers are posted using twitter during class and then discussed later on during the day or in the next class.


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