Whether you are just out of college or returning to education as a mature student, attending lectures can seem quite daunting. These feelings are completely normal and are to be expected. However, if you want gain as much as possible from your lectures you need to be confident enough to engage and ask questions about the material that is being presented to you.
Lecture size varies. For some subjects, the class size might be quite small – perhaps 25–30 people, say. However, if many students are taking the same unit you will find that the lectures can be quite large – up to 300 people! Whatever the size of the lecture, don’t be intimidated by it – remember that everyone is there to learn, just like you!
Before a lecture
The key to gaining the most out of lectures is preparation – the more informed you are beforehand, the more you will be able to engage with the concepts, questions and debates being presented and discussed.
Questions are an important element of lectures – it is vital for your learning that you question the ideas and concepts being presented to you, and also that you question your own ideas around areas of a topic. Through this questioning you will gain a deeper understanding of your subject.
During a lecture
During a lecture you will mainly listen to an educational talk on a particular topic to do with your subject. At the end of the lecture there might be time for discussion, and the opportunity to ask questions. However, this is not always the case. So it is important that, during the lecture, you listen and take notes on key concepts and ideas. You will then be able to use your notes to help you when doing independent study, for example. Those notes will also be useful if you are in a seminar group devoted to further discussion on the lecture – you can use them to clarify any points you didn’t quite understand, or terminology that is unfamiliar.
Your lecturer might spend time talking about key concepts that relate directly to something you were asked to read before attending a lecture – if you don’t prepare by reading pre-lecture materials you may find you have big holes in your understanding when in the lecture itself… preparation is key!
After a lecture
After you have attended a lecture it is important to go over the notes you have made. You may want to spend additional time looking into areas you didn’t quite understand – talking to other students after the lecture can help when in this situation.
Activity: before during and after your lectures
On the right hand side of the grid below you’ll find 9 activities you’re likely to need to complete at some point when attending lectures. Drag and drop the tiles into the correct columns below. Click Check to see how you did!
Skills you will gain
- Listening skills
- Note-making skills
- Research skills
- You need to make notes – so take a notebook and pen (or a portable device you can use to take notes on)
- Don’t be late – it can be off-putting for your lecturer and peers… they won’t appreciate it!
- Turn off your mobile – unless you’ve asked to use your smartphone make sure it’s off. Facebook and Snapchat can wait!