How to Cope in Tutorials when You’re Shy

Tutorials usually involve small groups of students discussing a particular topic that is being studied, focusing on texts that have been read during the week and information that has been presented during lectures. The intention is to get students to actively engage with the topic, rather than to passively read the set texts, if they even bother to read them, which they possibly wouldn’t if they didn’t have to attend tutorials. Tutorials give the tutor an opportunity to determine whether any students are having difficulties with the material. However, when you’re shy it may not be the material that you struggle with, but rather the tutorial and having to contribute to the discussion.

In some academic institutions, tutorials are conducted with very few students present, but for many a lack of teaching staff and an abundance of students will mean that there are quite a few students who turn up for tutorials. This can be rather intimidating when you’re shy, as you’re not naturally inclined to be vocal about your opinions and viewpoints, anyway, but with so many people present it is even more difficult. You’re always worried that the tutor is going to pick on you and that you won’t know the answer or that you’ll give a stupid response. Unfortunately, you can’t hide in the background as you could if you were in a lecture room.

You therefore have to get used to the idea that if you’re going to achieve all that you’re capable of you have to go to tutorials, as they can really help you get to grips with what you’re learning. It might be tough when you’re shy, but you have to remember that you’re all in the same boat and if there is something you don’t understand there are probably other students who don’t either. Many students aren’t exactly comfortable answering questions in front of their peers; it’s just that some are better at sounding as though they know what they’re talking about than others.

Thus, you should try to sound as confident as you can, as this is better than mumbling an answer and being asked to repeat yourself because no one could hear it the first time around. This just makes you feel embarrassed and self-conscious, so that your response isn’t quite as coherent as it was before. You may decide to get your answers in early and volunteer your thoughts when the discussion is about something which interests you and that you have read a lot about. Hopefully, that way, you won’t be picked on later in the discussion.

Shyness can make student life difficult, but you have to try to find a way to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to learn, including when you have to attend tutorials.