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RYERSON UNIVERSITY LEARNING SUPPORT SERVICES

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 you’ll 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 you’ll 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 won’t have to scrounge for pen and paper while the professor is speaking.  be on time so that you don’t 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 today’s 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.  Don’t 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 don’t prevent yourself from listening.

Don’t criticize the professor’s teaching style—just be receptive to the information the professor is presenting. skills. Just don’t let your mind wander too far for too long. In the main part of the lecture. the professor may repeat or rephrase ideas or put notes on overhead transparencies or the board. write exams. The prof may begin by listing the major points.  You won’t be able to give 100% of your attention for 100% of the class.” “next.  Listen for verbal clues that information is important. To avoid daydreaming.” “finally”) causes and/or effects (“because.]  Try to connect what you are hearing to what you already know from reading the text.” “in contrast. or from your own experience. ask for clarification.” “such as”) steps in a process (“first. mentally review what has been covered thus far and anticipate what is coming next.” “therefore.” “to illustrate.  Pay attention to the organization of the lecture. Don’t criticize the lecture as boring or irrelevant—maintain the attitude that you want to be in class because you will acquire new knowledge.  If there is anything you don’t understand.” “same as. o o o o o As well. To emphasize key concepts. such as specific pages in the text or books on reserve in the library. Details include examples (“for example. Keep an open mind.” “for instance.” “differs from. listen for verbal clues that help you distinguish between main ideas and supporting details. and insights that you can use to complete assignments. And don’t get upset if you disagree with what the prof is saying—withhold judgement until you understand the material and can ask for clarification. .” [The prof may also emphasize concepts by using nonverbal clues such as gestures.” “then. Listen for concepts and try to understand how the details support the concepts.” “as a result”) definitions (“means.” “in conclusion”). and do well in your career. He or she may even state outright.” “on the other hand.  Pay attention to references the prof makes to other sources of information.” “is/are defined as”) comparison/contrast (“similarly.” “however”) o reasons (“there are X reasons that Y is important”).” “is/are called. “This material is important” or “Remember this. a louder tone of voice. Refocus on the professor and think about what you’re hearing. or a slower rate of speech. from previous learning. Be aware of when you are losing concentration and pull yourself back to the here and now. the prof can signal new material (“Let’s move on to the next point)” or sum up key points (“in summary.