Perceptions of Graduate Introvert Students Towards Problem-Based Group Work Activities in the Classroom

Perceptions of Graduate Introvert Students Towards Problem-Based Group Work Activities in the Classroom

Sharon Ndolo (University of North Texas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6960-3.ch014
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This research study will examine the perceptions of graduate introvert students towards problem-based group work activities in the classroom. There is an emphasis into student-centered learning in higher education systems in today's world, and group-work activities are amongst the ways of having students active in the classroom. Results of this study will show that introverts compared to extroverts have negative group work experience. This study will show the importance of designing and structuring group work activities well to allow for all students regardless of their personalities to be able to be motivated towards group work activities and be able to retain concepts learned during student-centered learning activities. This study investigates how graduate introvert students perceive group work activities in the classroom. Personality test will be administered to ensure all participants fit into the study's description of an introvert. Qualitative approach was selected as the research design for this study using unstructured interview questions.
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Qualitative Research Framework

Research Main Topic of Inquiry

What are the perceptions of students who are not able to quickly speak up their ideas in a classroom that mostly focusses on problem-based group work activities? What are the current concerns and experiences that introvert students have faced during their group work activities in class? The inclusion of group-work activities in the classroom has tremendous benefits that allow students to develop soft skills such as, communication skills and negotiation skills. In addition, Problem-based Learning (PBL) activities promotes students high-order thinking skills, retention skills and allows students to understand concepts better. Although group work activities develop student’s critical thinking skills and understanding of content, it is also important to consider the type of discussions the students are engaging in, given the different types of personalities present in the classrooms (Nussbaum, 2002).

With the different personalities present in the classroom, do introverted students get a chance to apply their high order thinking skills especially when placed with extroverted students who dominate discussions by quickly speaking up during the assigned group work activities? Do the introverted students feel engaged during assigned group work activities in the classroom? How do we best respect introverts in the midst of all the student-centered learning approaches?

My study will define extroverted students as being enthusiastic, outgoing, talkative and friendly as supported by Walker, (2007). Introverted students will be defined as, people who like to spend time alone processing thoughts in their head rather than speaking up (Dossey, 2016).

Subtopic(s) of Inquiry

While I do not want this to be explicit in the semi-structured questions, there are subtopics I want to explore in particular arenas tied to the following:

  • Student perception on the group size, and how it affects their ability to be productive during group work activities.

  • Student’s engagement during the group work activities and its relation to constructive group work activities.

  • Student processing time (time needed to think through complex problems) during group work activities.

  • Student perception on the time allocated for group work activities in the classroom.

  • Student perception on the personas present in their group during group work activities.

  • Student perception of the instructor’s effectiveness in running group work activities.


Main Literature In Support Of Conducting This Study

Most institutions of higher education are shifting from the old way in which instructors just deliver instruction to adopt to the constructivist approach to learning where the student is the active participant in the learning environment. This is evidence from the findings of Walker (2007) who stated that, group work has become an important part of the higher education system in today’s world. The shift in teaching style might be a result of cognitive growth when students are active in the learning environment as supported by Palincsar (1998), who stated there is cognitive growth when working with peers.

Warren, Dondlinger, McLeod, and Bigenho (2012) define problem-based learning as an advanced model of instruction, which is designed to support learning through complex problem-solving context. During the group work activity, the students are presented with the ill-structured problem for them to solve. Hmelo-Silver (2004) stated students need to engage to define meaning of the problem, inquire and investigate access information through various resources, evaluate and justify their findings and finally the students communicate their responses and come to conclusions. This is also supported by Warren, Dondlinger, McLeod, and Bigenho (2012), who stated that in a problem-based learning activity the students think critically by analyzing and synthesizing data, students develop hypothesis and reason then find conclusions and evaluate the new information gained.

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