How Introverts Learn: Intrapersonal Learning

boy reading

When delivering presentations, I often ask participants to raise their hands if they consider themselves an introvert. Usually about 40% of hands go up, to which I reply, “OK, almost half of you, and then a number of you didn’t raise your hand because you’re an introvert!” The truth is, I count myself in this category. Now, you may be surprised to learn that I am an introvert, but to be one doesn’t mean that one is shy. It simply means that one is refreshed, energized, and more at ease in solitude and introspection and that one formulates thoughts internally before speaking, while an extrovert often formulates thoughts by the very act of speaking. Many of us in ministry and in public speaking are introverts. I compare it to a right-handed person who sprains his wrist on her right hand: he or she can adapt and use the left hand but is much more comfortable with the right.

Introverts are often misunderstood as being uninterested, aloof, or shy, and, in learning situations, can often be overshadowed by the extrovert who is more than happy to jump into the proceedings without hesitation. As a catechist, it is important to be sure that the introverts—those with intrapersonal intelligence—get their chance to shine! Here are some tips for working with learners who have intrapersonal intelligence:

  • Don’t always call on the first hand that goes up after you ask a question; pause and wait a moment for some of the introverts to catch up or to formulate their thoughts before volunteering.
  • Gently invite introverts to add their thoughts after others have spoken.
  • Provide opportunities for journaling, which enables engaging in introspection.
  • Include periods of quiet and opportunities to experience solitude, such as in reflective prayer.
  • Plan opportunities for independent learning.
  • Provide physical space for “alone time” if possible.
  • Invite intrapersonal learners to analyze and reflect on material, such as Scripture stories, before sharing their thoughts.
  • Encourage intrapersonal learners to use their imaginations to place themselves in stories from Scripture or Church history.
  • Invite students to reflect on and write down goals for what they hope to learn or achieve.
  • Encourage exploration of historical interests, such as at museums.
  • Encourage reading, especially of biographies (lives of the saints).
  • Gently but consistently encourage interaction with others.
  • Invite students to take charge of tasks that require organization that they can accomplish on their own but for the benefit of others.
  • Invite learners to express thoughts from the perspective of a historical figure.
  • Give intrapersonal learners time to think!

What other strategies do you use to engage intrapersonal learners?

Explore Loyola Press children’s books to add to your classroom library that will engage intrapersonal learners.

About Joe Paprocki 2739 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

4 Comments on How Introverts Learn: Intrapersonal Learning

  1. “Give the introverts time to process” is my mantra in all the adult learning and facilitator training I have led over the years.

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