Sunday, August 31, 2008


The responses to the Augusts’ Question, “Shhhh! Quiet Learner at Work” were insightful as well as practical. We also had our highest response with faculty posting 10 different responses and ideas. If you have not already read them, I encourage you to go to the August Archives and read each one. The following are just a few “pearls” from the list.

  • Two of the responders thought that giving quieter students or residents a specific role to play can increase their interaction.
  • One responder mentioned assigning a paper, then asking the quieter student to present the next day, another suggested asking them to serve as “teacher”
  • In one-to-one teaching it is not as much of a problem since dialog is pretty much mandated. However, if you want to increase students’ one and two word responses, first, ask more open-ended questions and second, make your expectations for depth of response clear.
  • One responder suggested killing two birds with one stone by enlisting the “talker or dominant student” to solicit opinions from the quieter student.
  • Two responders thought that one needed to consider cultural background as certain cultures regard speaking out as impolite. Again, expectations need to be made clear
  • Finally, before labeling the student as quiet and non responsive make sure your own behavior is not intimidating to all but the most aggressive learner.

One thing I might add from years of working with faculty (who can also fall into this category) is to create a “reason for communicating”. Many times the learner themselves prefers to learn through observation and checking the “answer in their head” with those verbalized. They have no personal need to verbalize their understanding. GIVE THEM A REASON!
Hope these suggestions were useful to you!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Shhhh! Quiet Learner at Work

Have you ever spent a week or even a month with a group of students/residents and when it comes time to complete their evaluations you are not at all sure of what they know or don't know. Sure they show up on time and complete their work, but whenever you try to engage them in discussion to see if they really understand, the most you get for your trouble is a short response. You perceive no interest, no passion... It is frustrating!!!!

The dilemma of the "quiet student"!

I've often wondered "Who's problem is it anyway?" Maybe it is just me? The more reflective quiet student or resident seems fairly content handling their learning. Or do we do them a disservice by not challenging them?

How do you all handle "quiet students?" Has anyone found a way of engaging these reluctant participants and getting a good sense of their knowledge and understanding?

Please "comment" if you have an idea.