How WPU Students and Professors View Introversion in the Classroom


Martina Frasca

According to Psychology Today, researchers estimate that 50% to 74% of the population is extroverted and 16% to 50% of the population is introverted.

Introverts and extroverts differ in how they respond to social stimuli. Extroverts love social stimulation because being around and interacting with others boosts their energy levels. Introverts spend energy through socializing; they regain their energy by spending time alone. Extroverts tend to be loud, outgoing and talkative, while introverts are usually withdrawn, quiet and thoughtful.

American culture values extroverts. In grade school, quiet kids are often told to speak up, shy kids confuse loud ones with their silence, and teachers emphasize the importance of being a “team player” and responding quickly to questions.

Later in life, teenagers who don’t attend parties are often seen as boring or considered rude when declining or cancelling social invitations. Throughout adulthood, there’s a widespread expectation of carrying out text conversations with significant others promptly and for as long as possible, no matter the subject matter.

This disapproval of introversion plays out in the career field as well. In 2006, the Harvard Business Review found that 65% of senior corporate executives they surveyed thought that introversion gets in the way of effective leadership.

But at William Paterson, introverts are proving themselves just as capable as extroverts. Current professors and students use introversion to their advantage by bringing unique perspectives and problem-solving methods to the classroom.

“Introverts are the ones that remind us that we need to contemplate,” said Cris Beam, an English professor at the university. “We need to go inside and think a little more. I think at a university we prize contemplation, so the introverts remind us that the life of the mind is something to value. So at a university, we should be praising the introverts.”

Beam noted that introverts can “feel okay about who they are.”

“I think we prize extroversion so much that we need to remember that being quiet and being thoughtful is actually a really respectable way to be,” she added.

Still, the prevalence of employers’ tendency to favor extroverted traits over introverted ones causes many introverts to doubt their chances of succeeding in class or landing a job.

“I think everyone has experienced doubt when it comes to approaching a new activity,” said Grace Rochette, a music education major. “It’s something new and exciting, but at the same time, it’s also foreign.”

At a university, introverts’ lifestyles can affect the time they dedicate towards classwork and social activities. Someone with introverted tendencies may stick to themselves and only talk to people that approach them unless they have friends in their class.

“During class, I tend to just stick to myself and do my work. However, if I have friends in the class, I will only typically talk to them and not really anyone else,” Rochette said. “As a music education major, I plan to be more extroverted with my students as opposed to being introverted. Although I would be coming out of my shell, it’s [important] that I engage with my students.”

Some introverted students adapt to social situations by altering their mindset and acting the part of an extrovert where necessary.

“I approach classes with a positive attitude and I make sure I get ready to participate in class,” said Marwah Ibrahim, an English writing major. “It’s all about mentality and what you want to accomplish.”