Student Types

Consider the following examples of student typologies published under the title The College Classroom: Conflict, Change and Learning (Mann et. al., 1970).

The student types are listed here in the order in which they may be found in your classroom. The majority of students are a mix of the first four categories described.


The greatest number of students are of this type. They display little self-confidence and are very dependent on the teacher. Their feelings of
incompetence and the outside pressures from parents lead them to be overly concerned about grades. They may take notes on instructor’s every word and will
often ask "Will this problem be on the test?". If they feel that the instructor cares about them, they become more involved in the class and less
concerned with grades


These students are quiet out of a feeling of personal insecurity;
they judge their own personal worth on the quality of their intellectual
ability. Silent students speak only when they are sure that the TA will
approve. They are too shy to promote it a personal relationship with the TA,
although they want it.


Compliant students are quiet, non-critical, and trusting of
authority. They tend to do only the work required for successful completion of
the course. They are usually seen as good students and are liked by their teachers.
Most teaching styles are compatible with this student type, but they still
prefer an instructor who takes the role of authority figure.


Independent students tend to be sophomores or juniors. They are
confident, they do not feel threatened by the teacher, classwork or the other
students. They like class discussions more than lectures. They enjoy collegial
relationships with their TA during class. They will not respect a TA who is so
friendly that he or she loses control and authority in the classroom.


The discouraged workers are students who are dissatisfied with
themselves. The best way a TA can help a discouraged student is to be patient
and encouraging. These students become depressed with their academic work, do
not blame others for their feelings.


Snipers are typically underachievers who tend to be rebellious and
defensive. They appear to be uninvolved and emotionally indifferent to
classroom activities. They are often intolerant of others. Snipers expect to do
poorly in the class, they have low self- esteem, and they might counterbalance
their feelings of inadequacy is by finding fault with the instructor's
explanations of the course material.


The"heroes" are very involved with the coursework and
may feel superior to their classmates. When they enjoy the class, they may
identify with the teacher, but dislike students who make unnecessary comments
or try to challenge the teacher on minor issues. Hero students are very
intelligent and resent being told what to do. They resent an instructor who
they perceive as highly authoritarian since they fear having their
"freedom" and classroom independence taken away.


Attention-seekers are the most social and extroverted students in
the class. They are eager to be liked by their TA and peers. A desire to do
well in class and get good grades is apparent, although at times they tend to
be "show-offs". Being approved of and reassured by their teachers is
very important to them, even though their behavior is sometimes inappropriate
or extreme. Because they are very concerned with self-image, they want the TA
to set clear guidelines for appropriate classroom behavior. They need to know
just how far they can go with their behavior in class even though they often
test the limits of behavior set by the TA. They are extremely sensitive to
reprimands, and contrary to their attention-seeking behaviors in class, these
students do fear being put on the spot by the TA.