Overcoming inhibitions

October 2, 2014

I read Bruce Macfarlane’s feature “Speaking up for the introverts” (25 September) with interest. It is not just students for whom shyness can be an issue. In my research into how students describe excellence in teaching, the performative elements such as lecturing were overwhelmingly the most often mentioned. Students seem to rate more highly those staff who can entertain them with a lecture that is memorable and stimulating. Far less likely are they to comment on the studious and dedicated seminar tutor who might facilitate more and deeper learning than that performance.

That said, shyness and introversion are not necessarily the same thing - few people who know me would say that I am shy, and I am confident in lectures and other settings. Put me at a conference where I know no one, however, and you will find me sitting in the corner, desperate to melt into the wall. I know that there are those who teach who feel the same: the big “performance” lecture is a doddle, but the idea of being in a room
with one or two dozen students up close and personal sends them into a tailspin.

We need to find ways to support staff as well as students for whom shyness or introversion might be perceived as a “performance” issue.

Matthew J. Williamson
Head of educational development and director of the academic development programme
Centre for Academic and Professional Development
Queen Mary University of London

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard