Understanding your personality traits will make you a more successful online learner

January 7, 2021


Online learning offers the flexibility and convenience needed for student success, and it continues to gain popularity as our world adjusts to a new normal post-COVID. Although online classes differ from face-to-face courses, learning more about yourself can help you succeed in any academic environment. For example, knowing whether you are more structured versus more spontaneous empowers you to develop specific study habits that work with your personality.

Personality theories of introversion and extroversion can help people identify and honor their natural strengths to facilitate success in all aspects of their lives. Both introverts and extroverts possess unique strengths that will help make the most of their online learning experience. Armed with this knowledge, you can approach online learning in a way that caters to your natural temperament and sets you up for a positive and successful online experience. Regardless of labels, you can be successful with a plan that works for you.

Ways Introverts and Extroverts Can Thrive in an Online Course


Online courses offered at our five Alamo Colleges are asynchronous, meaning the classes don’t meet at designated times but allow students the flexibility to complete their assignments when it works best for them. Introverts prefer less stimulation and gain energy from internal processes like thinking, reflecting, and planning. They are well suited for the asynchronous nature of online learning as it allows them the time and space to process information at their own pace.

Although not all introverts are quiet, many shy away from large group conversations where they are the center of attention. Instead, more introverted students may prefer the forms of communication commonly used in online learning. For example, most online courses encourage participation via discussion boards and emails. Written communication allows introverts the opportunity to review a classmate’s comments, reflect, and then respond without pressure.

While assessments and grades officially measure academic success in a course, developing relationships within the classroom plays an important role—in both virtual and in-person courses. The social stress of being a student can be challenging for introverts who prefer small groups and meaningful one-on-one connections and yet the personal connection is crucial. In an online class, introverted students can connect with one student at a time, perhaps scheduling individual times to connect virtually and review material. Focusing on one connection and relationship at a time will feel less overwhelming and yet still offers feelings of inclusion.


Extroverts typically thrive in social situations and often find it easy and comfortable to participate in synchronous (same time, same place courses). However, extroverts can still thrive in asynchronous virtual learning environments. In fact, online learning provides multiple opportunities for extroverts to engage in the course and with other students in a way that fits their natural disposition. For example, extroverts can participate in small group conversations or live video chats with instructors or a group of classmates. Extroverted students may also choose to interact with several other students, developing multiple relationships and joining multiple groups.

Because extroverts tend to thrive in social environments, it’s important for more extroverted students to create social opportunities within the virtual realm. One way is to organize groups within the class. Extroverts can tap into their leadership skills as they facilitate study or discussion groups. Similarly, more extroverted students can engage in multiple forms of communication during their online course, keeping in touch with their instructor and various classmates, forming as many relationships as needed to recharge them.

Extroverts can also form good relationships in an online classroom; it will just look different. For example, extroverted students may want to organize group Zoom meetings to discuss the material or set up GroupMe channels to keep in touch with other students in the same section of a course. Extroverts can utilize their natural charisma by introducing themselves to their classmates and exchanging information. Then, they can take advantage of the multitude of virtual platforms like group chats or social media sites (e.g. Instagram), expanding their social circles.

If you are an introvert, here are three ways to make the most of your online learning experience:
  • Go at your own pace and take your time as you prepare for your course. Review material and assignments as often as you need to feel prepared.
  • Develop one-on-one relationships with your classmates and each instructor.
  • Enjoy the opportunity to practice your written communication skills, but don’t be afraid to post videos as the instructor allows. Responding to discussion posts via video is a growing trend, so take advantage of the opportunity when it is available.
If you are an extrovert, here are three ways to make the most of your online learning experience:
  • Let your natural social aptitude shine and organize small groups within your class.
  • Maximize virtual communication as you create opportunities to be social. Participate in large Zoom discussions. Log on to your platforms before class to connect with other students.
  • Develop a routine for your study habits. Limit access to social media and distractions during this time and reward yourself once you complete an assignment.

As you continue your academic journey, you may find that as an introvert you need to interact with more extraverted students and vice versa. Do not let labels stop you from asking for help from a classmate. Take this opportunity to engage with and learn from personalities that are different than yours. Interacting with a wide variety of personalities is just one more way online learning can provide you with a versatile and rewarding learning experience!

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