Study skills classroom survival

There is more to learning than memorising facts.

Learning how to learn can be challenging and enjoyable. It requires more than taking notes and reading texts - you have to learn to survive in the classroom. This means learning active classroom behaviour. If you sit passively taking lecture notes you could be replaced by a tape recorder. Instead become an active participant in the classroom and let your lecturer know that you are interested and involved.

Asking questions

Lecturers encourage students to ask questions. They perceive your questions as an indication of your willingness and motivation to learn. Asking questions can stimulate both the lecture and the students in the learning process however, learning is also about finding answers yourself.

Points to remember:

  1. You are responsible for your own learning - it is up to you to succeed.
  2. You have the right to say “I don’t understand”.
    Clarifying an issue may help others in the class who also don’t understand but won’t admit it.
  3. If you don’t understand the answer to your question don’t say you do and remain confused.
    Ask lecturer to explain.
  4. Lecturers can’t read your mind.
    They need to know when you don’t understand and when clarification is needed.
  5. The best time for questions may be before, during or after class.
  6. Write your question down.
    The answer may be covered during the lesson.
  7. Questions give feedback to the lecturer about what clarification is needed.
  8. Lecturers are only one resource for the answers to questions.
    Seek clarification in books, on web or ask the librarian for help. They might not solve your problem, but might tell you where to find the answer.

If you’re not asking questions in class, think about these statements:

  • I don’t want to impose
  • If I ask, the lecturer (and the whole class) might think I’m stupid
  • If I ask a question which challenges the lecturer, it might go against me.
  • Lecturers don’t care what I have to say

If you find that these kinds of inhibitions are affecting your grades, you may need to find ways of overcoming them. One possibility is to talk with a lecturer, other students or friends, the Counsellor or Wellbeing Centre on campus.

Important ways to improve learning and get better results

There are many things students can do to improve their chances of doing well in class:

  • Be attentive in class. Show the lecturer you are interested in learning
  • Be prepared by pre-reading text before class to understand the lecture
  • Being enthusiastic and interested has a positive effect on the lecturer’s attitude towards you.
  • Know the subject syllabus, the aims and objectives of each unit.
  • Form study groups with other students in your class to discuss relevant topics, check notes, bounce ideas off each other.
  • Attend classes. You can’t learn if you are not there.
Understanding the lecturer
  • Know the expectations of your lecturer.
  • Think of the lecturer as a person who cares about what he/she is doing.