There is a big difference between active listening and just passively existing in class. Listening in lectures is underrated. Most students have not developed active listening skills. If your notes are sparse, messy and at best, marginally legible, it means you haven’t been listening. This results in difficulty in getting key points while reading for exams and poor test or exams performance. Classroom presence does not equal constructive listening. There is difference between listening, really listening, and just hearing. Learning to actively listen and using the skill during lecture will greatly improve your success as a student.
STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU BE A MORE ATTENTIVE LISTENER
HAVE A PRE-LECTURE PREPARATION
The process of active listening in a lecture should actually start before the lecture. Before the lecture, warm up your mind for active listening. Consult your course syllabus weekly to note the topics which will be the focus for the week’s lectures. Having noted the topic(s) for the next lecture, consult your text and read or skim through the relevant chapter. While doing this, your mind should be very active. The result is that your mind will be prepared, your listening will be more acute, and your notes will be more acute and meaningful. Always review notes from previous lectures prior to class.
GET YOURSELF IN THE RIGHT SPACE
Sit in the front row where you can see and hear the lecturer. Do not be intimidated by the lecturer and avoid sitting where you will be distracted. Some lecturers believe students who sit in the front take their studies more seriously and are more willing to give them help when needed especially in terms of assigning grades.
LISTEN FOR MEANING
To be an active and attentive listener, pay attention, not only to words, but also focus on the intent of each word, the message a word is intended to communicate. After listening, check your comprehension. Did what you learn make sense? Monitoring and checking comprehension is a way of Knowing that your active listening strategy is working. Clear your mind of anything else.
ADJUST YOUR NOTE TAKING STYLE TO THE LECTURE
- Ineffective listeners often attempt to jot down every detail from lecture. Effective listeners adapt their note taking to the teaching styles of their lecturers.
DON’T TAKE TOO MANY NOTES
Don’t try to copy everything down or you will end up not taking anything in. Rather listen and engage. Use shorthand for repeated words and references. If you have a handout, write brief notes in the margins instead of having a separate page of notes. You could also record in class if you are permitted. When you listen to the recording again, you can then make side notes about the important things you didn’t catch the first time.
CHOOSE TO BE INTERESTED
Many people tune out lectures because they are bored or disinterested. As a result, they neglect to takes notes on key concepts. To be an effective listener, you have to be interested in the course no matter how boring it might be and it will help you process the information. Focus on what is being said.
DON’T GET DISTRACTED
An important part of staying focused and listening attentively is making sure you don’t have any distractions, both internal and external. Internal distraction could be hunger, tiredness, or distracting thoughts. Manage this by being well rested and having a healthy meal before class. External distractions could be unneeded materials like mobile phones. Or excessive materials like books and study materials from other courses. Avoid sitting with friends who will be a distraction to you.
GET YOUR MIND IN THE RIGHT SPACE
Prepare yourself mentally to receive the information the speaker is presenting by following the previous questions and by doing your assignments.
LOOK FOR SIGNALS
Each lecturer has a different way of telling you what is important. While some will repeat a point, others will write related words on the board. Look out for these signals from your lecturer and jot down points.
Asking questions allows you to clear up any doubts you may have about the material. Good questions often help lecturers expand upon your ideas and make the material more relevant to you.
- Restating what you hear is a powerful strategy for being an active listener, but it’s impractical in a room full of other students. That is why you must take notes.
- Participate in class. This will help you get more out of class. Lecturers notice students who participate in class and this is often a component of the final grade.