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Friday, February 8, 2013

Group Study Part II: How Extraverts can Bring the Introverts “Into the Fold”

Part 2 of our "Learning to Learn" series. 
By Jim Larkin and Jack Powers

In our previous post we discussed how people with a preference for Extraversion, who are energized by social interaction, tend to operate much more naturally in a group study situation than their Introversion-oriented counterparts, who have to expend energy for social interaction.

However, this doesn't mean that those preferring Extraversion will necessarily have an easy, or even a positive experience in group study. If you prefer Extraversion, you may feel frustrated with some of the other group members who aren't participating as readily as you. Furthermore, your grade may in fact suffer because you’re not getting input from 50 percent or more of your team.

Before you throw up your hands in resignation, consider that some of the lack of engagement you’re perceiving from some team members may have nothing to do with their level of interest or dedication to the project. Rather, it may stem from a natural discomfort in group study-type situations with those with a preference for Introversion. The following tips may help you manage the situation to the team’s benefit and bring the Introverts “back into the fold” per se, and contributing on equal footing with the Extraverts:
1) Pay attention to non-verbal cues. If you’re talking a lot, others may may feel like they can’t get a word in edgewise, or perhaps that you’re stealing their thunder by expressing what they’re thinking before they can say it. Watch body language -- if someone looks like they have something to say, give them a chance to say it.

2) Designate a facilitator. Let’s face it, sometimes you’re just having too much fun to notice that others aren’t. Therefore, in a group with mixed preferences, it’s often beneficial to designate someone as the facilitator and assign them the task of making sure that speaking time is more equally divided -- encouraging the more reserved members, and perhaps toning down the more aggressive ones.

By understanding how preferences for Introversion and Extraversion manifest themselves in these kind of group settings, you can more effectively harness the knowledge and creativity of everyone in your group to make it a positive, productive learning experience.

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