Lectures are the main way of communicating knowledge in the classroom setting, so being able to listen well is an essential to success in one’s education. There are many different techniques that once practiced and mastered, can lead to success.
The first step to good listening skills in lectures is to be prepared. By reading the chapter being covered, or re-reading notes it is easier to listen. Because the content is not being introduced for the first time, it is easier to comprehend it. Also by avoiding distractions, and picking a seat that is easy to pay attention in, the chances of listening well are increased, even before the teacher begins to speak. (Wells 1)
A helpful hint to listening in a lecture is realizing that listening is a lot more than just hearing the words spoken at a lecture. In actuality listening is a cognitive activity that processes and interprets the information heard. There are certain things that a student may be able to say that can help their ability to listen well. By repeating “I am going to listen”, a student goes into the lecture with an objective, thus helping them stay on task. Also, by repeating the phrase “I am going to listen because…” is another way to stay on track because it forces the student to have an objective. When an objective is present it is much easier to listen because it is like a goal is obtainable. (Boyd 1)
Being an effective listener takes the ability to channel things out. A student should “engage” the speaker. This means that they should block out everything else around them, and create an internal conversation between the speaker and them while the speaker is lecturing. This includes actively anticipating and questioning what the lecturer says and sorting or categorizing the information being presented. (University of Guelph 1)
When listening in lectures, the student must be able to adapt to the style of the speaker. He or she decides what topics the lecture will cover, as well as how quickly information is presented. Adapting to a fast or monotonous pace is a challenge for even the most experienced student. Getting information and advice on note taking strategies can be helpful if your skills are challenged by your instructor’s particular lecturing style. (University of Guelph 1)
Two common dilemmas facing students in lectures are deciding what and how much to write down, and determining the best method for recording that information. It is common for first year students who are used to the direction and structure of high school classes to have difficulties in deciding what to write down in a lecture. At university, you’re responsible for piecing together information about your instructor’s objectives for the course, how the lectures and textbook fit together, what you are expected to do with the lecture material, and how you will be evaluated. It’s important to be aware of this kind of information because these factors and others form the basis for the decisions you make about how much to write down in lectures, the amount of detail in which you’ll study your texts, and what course material to concentrate on when preparing for exams. (University of Guelph 1)
Concentration is also a big complaint of many students. There are many techniques that a student can practice to be able to better concentrate. “The Spider Technique”, for one is a very good self-training technique. “The Spider Technique” helps the students to not give into distractions by training themselves. If a vibrating tuning fork were held next to a spider web he spider would react and come looking for what was vibrating. However, after a few times, the spider would smarten up and realize that there was no bug vibrating the web. This technique can be related into concentration. When in a lecture, if someone coughs, sneezes, moves or makes some type of other distraction, don’t participate. Instead of looking up to see who or what just happened, concentrate harder on your own work. By doing this, it enables the student to concentrate with the ability to not be distracted. (Kansas State University 1)
Another problem that students complain of is that they think about other things instead of listening to the lecturer speaking. This problem can easily be avoided by taking a couple necessary steps. The first step being to set aside time each day to just think. By thinking at a set time, it keeps the mind from wandering and thinking at times when it shouldn’t. If in a lecture, a student feels the need to think about other things, they simply have to remind themselves that they have a time set aside to think about it. (Kansas State University 1)
Boyd, Paula. “Lecture Note Taking”. 1/15/02.
Schuette, Clifford G. “Improving Your Concentration”. 1/15/02.
Wells, Gregory. “In the Classroom- Listening and Note Taking”. 1/14/02.
University of Guelph, “Fastfax: Learning from Lectures”. 1/14/02.