Students, are you listening?
In my experience, one of the the biggest problems of many students was simply that they didn’t listen in class well enough. Because of this, they missed information they needed for exams and papers, and generally didn’t get as much out of school as they could have. I think listening is a skill that just isn’t taught enough in high schools.
Here are six easy tips to help you listen and concentrate better.
- Remove distractions. It used to be that if students wanted to zone the teacher out, their only choice was the student paper. Now there’s texting, IMing, iPods, and all kinds of ways to escape. Of course, it’s more tempting to text your friends than it is to listen to a boring lecture, but if you really want to do well in class, put these away.
- Listen with your eyes. Keep your eyes on the lecturer as much as possible. This will help you pay attention and keep your mind from wandering.
- Respond non-verbally to the lecture. As the teacher speaks, nod your head, shrug your shoulders, and otherwise “respond” to what’s being said. This will also help you pay attention.
- Listen in “outline” style. Unless your professor is a horrible lecturer, he or she is following some sort of organizational outline. As you listen, pay special attention to main points. If the professor says at the beginning that today’s lecture will be about four kinds of something, keep an ear out for those four things. This doesn’t mean that you should only write down the main points, but it will help you pay attention (and take better notes, too).
- Come prepared physically. If you’re exhausted, hungry, hung over, or otherwise physically uncomfortable, how will you be able to pay attention?
- Ask for clarification. Did something the professor say make no sense to you? Ask him or her to explain it again. If nobody does this, the professor will have no way of knowing that he or she is confusing the students.
All of this gets easier with practice. The more you get into the habit of listening carefully in class, the easier it will become.