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Academic persistence and success in higher education serves as a topic of continued interest in research. In part, it is a result of students' capacity to apply educationally advantageous skills including time management and remaining focused on coursework throughout the semester. More often than not, college students need to accommodate to new environmental and social settings. They are presented a set of new norms, traditions, rituals, and language (Hunter 2006) in the college environment that must be adhered in order to have a successful college experience.
Wang (2009) suggests that accommodating to college is affected by the amalgamation of social and personal influences. Many students enter higher education with expectations that conflict with the personal, social, and academic demands of their institutions. Smith & Wertlieb (2005) found that students' expectations of their college experiences did not align with their actual social or academic experiences. Hawley & Harris (2006) found that students whose college expectations were unrealistic were less likely to persist academically. Students often hold misconceptions of the college environment and as a result, fail to persist or succeed as there exists a poor fit between the individual and their environment, which can severely affect students' levels of engagement.
In a general sense, personality refers to the consistency or stability of an individual's way of thinking, feeling, and behaving (Kazdin, 2000; Lazarus, 1961). Research concerning the personality construct often focuses on the understanding of these factors through examination of personality traits, which can be considered as existing on a continuum between two extremes (with personality scores reflecting where one might fall within the spectrum of a particular characteristic) or personality types, which refers to a unique grouping of traits (Pittenger, 2004; Rovik et al.
, 2007). In other words, according to Lazarus (1961), "persons can be classified into types by their pattern of traits" (p. 53).
Of the personality types, there are often two in which individuals are categorized: introversion, in which one harnesses energy from inside him- or herself and prefers to learn through observation, and extroversion, in which an individual becomes energized through the external world and prefers to learn through participation in activities. In higher education, the classroom is considered to favor the skills and strengths of extroverts with curricula that includes oral presentations, group projects, and participation grades for discussion sections. According to author Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, school systems tend to correlate active participation and speaking during a lecture with being more competent and driven (34). Extroverts thrive on leadership and being apart of groups, participating in class discussions, giving speeches and presentations, and in general, interacting with others. On the other hand, there exist many students who prefer to conduct individual research, quietly reflect on lessons, and work independently. In the college classroom, there is seemingly a lot of emphasis on who is participating and willing to share their ideas--neglecting the depth of knowledge from someone who truly ponders a question. Introverts can take comfort in several elements of college learning, such as lectures, paper-writing and exams, but in discussion sections, they find it daunting to find a moment to insert their ideas. The interaction between introverts and extroverts can be conflicting in the classroom. While introverts prefer breaks of silence to collect their thoughts and formulate new ideas, extroverts prefer continuous dialogue, which can sometimes drown out opportunities for introverts.
Although personality types undoubtedly have a significant effect on academic persistence and success in the college environment, there has been little attention focused on the interaction concerning these. As one can imagine, the qualities of introverts and extroverts vastly differ, which can serve an effect as to how an individual approaches learning. Many studies neglect the notion of introversion and extroversion concerning their best capacities in learning and retaining information. Thus, this phenomenological study is purposed for understanding how students who strongly fit the categories of introversion and extroversion engage in academic settings at the University of Southern California. We will examine precisely the differences between these two personality types in various classroom settings and conduct interviews with those who exude the strongest levels of such in order to garner more insight as to their personal experiences and opinions.
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