which “refers to the process through which students make efforts to achieve balance in their learning environment and improve their academic performance” (all quotes are from the original article) and includes such things as learning habits, utilization of learning resources, learning motivation, learning satisfaction, and learning style.
According to their findings, shyness limits both “mastery-approach goals” and “instrumental help seeking”, two important elements of learning adjustment. In the influential 2x2 Model of Goal Orientation Theory, individuals can pursue either “mastery” or “performance” goals, each of which can be motivated either positively (“approach”) or negatively (“avoidance”). Thus, individuals with a mastery-approach orientation tend to perform tasks to acquire new skills (intrinsic motivation) and to use self-referenced comparisons. To the contrary, individuals with a performance-avoidance orientation (such as shy students) tend to perform tasks for extrinsic reasons, and to compare themselves to others. This, in turn, often has a negative impact on the level of motivation, satisfaction, and achievement that these individuals experience.
Likewise, academic help-seeking can be analyzed into “instrumental help seeking”, whereby individuals seek help to then be able to perform a certain task independently, and “executive help seeking”, though which they look for someone to perform said task for them. Unsurprisingly, the study found that shyness tends to inhibit instrumental help seeking--and sometimes help seeking altogether.
Afraid to make mistakes, shy students tend to “exert little effort toward acquiring new knowledge or improving their abilities by engaging in challenging tasks.” Highly conscious of other people’s perception, they “tend to perceive themselves negatively and are vulnerable when faced with threatening information, such as others’ negative evaluations of their abilities, which may occur as a result of requests for help.”
Based on these findings, the authors recommend that educators “pay more attention to shy students and their manifestations and the cause of learning maladjustment”. One course of action can be to provide “programs specifically designed to promote shy students’ confidence in their abilities” as well as “positive information about shy students’ performance and achievements.”
Interestingly, the researchers add that shyness can actually lead students to pursue mastery-avoidance goals and ask classmated for help--both in order to “avoid the perception of appearing foolish.” This, too, could potentially be an opportunity for targeted interventions leveraging this psychological phenomenon.
Reference: Chen et alia (2018), “Shyness and Learning Adjustment in Senior High School Students: Mediating Roles of Goal Orientation and Academic Help Seeking”, Frontiers in Psychology, September 2018