You are on page 1of 2


Getting the Most from Lectures Through Active Listening Class lectures are one of your major opportunities for learning at university. The following strategies will help you to listen actively during class so that you can take more effective notes. For note-taking strategies, see the separate handout Taking Effective Notes from Lectures. Be prepared to listen actively. Before the lecture, look at your course outline so that youll know what will be covered.

review notes from previous classes so that you can predict how the new lecture relates to what you have learned in class thus far. If you are unclear about previous material, prepare questions for the prof to answer. complete any assigned readings using the SQ3R method so that youll be able to connect what you learn in the lecture to what you have read in the textbook. organize everything you need for class, such as the textbook, your notebook, pens and pencils. If you come to class prepared, you wont have to scrounge for pen and paper while the professor is speaking. be on time so that you dont miss the beginning of the lecture, when the professor may take a few minutes to review key points from the previous lecture and/or introduce the key points for todays lecture. pick a good spot where you can hear the lecture and see the prof, the board, and any visual aids (preferably in the front row). Being in a good location will help you concentrate. Listen actively during class. Cope with distractions such as noise and movement in the hall by keeping your eyes on the professor or your notebook. If someone talking nearby is bothering you, either politely ask the person to stop talking or move to another seat. You have a right to listen to the lecture without disruption. Dont create your own distractions by, for example, trying to do homework for other classes or reading the text for this class while the prof is speaking. You are listening to learn, so dont prevent yourself from listening.

Keep an open mind. Dont criticize the professors teaching stylejust be receptive to the information the professor is presenting. Dont criticize the lecture as boring or irrelevantmaintain the attitude that you want to be in class because you will acquire new knowledge, skills, and insights that you can use to complete assignments, write exams, and do well in your career. And dont get upset if you disagree with what the prof is sayingwithhold judgement until you understand the material and can ask for clarification. Pay attention to the organization of the lecture. The prof may begin by listing the major points. In the main part of the lecture, listen for verbal clues that help you distinguish between main ideas and supporting details. Listen for concepts and try to understand how the details support the concepts. Details include examples (for example, for instance, to illustrate, such as) steps in a process (first, next, then, finally) causes and/or effects (because, therefore, as a result) definitions (means, is/are called, is/are defined as) comparison/contrast (similarly, same as, in contrast, differs from, on the other hand, however) o reasons (there are X reasons that Y is important). o o o o o As well, the prof can signal new material (Lets move on to the next point) or sum up key points (in summary, in conclusion). Listen for verbal clues that information is important. To emphasize key concepts, the professor may repeat or rephrase ideas or put notes on overhead transparencies or the board. He or she may even state outright, This material is important or Remember this. [The prof may also emphasize concepts by using nonverbal clues such as gestures, a louder tone of voice, or a slower rate of speech.] Try to connect what you are hearing to what you already know from reading the text, from previous learning, or from your own experience. Pay attention to references the prof makes to other sources of information, such as specific pages in the text or books on reserve in the library. You wont be able to give 100% of your attention for 100% of the class. Just dont let your mind wander too far for too long. Be aware of when you are losing concentration and pull yourself back to the here and now. Refocus on the professor and think about what youre hearing. To avoid daydreaming, mentally review what has been covered thus far and anticipate what is coming next. If there is anything you dont understand, ask for clarification.