To Listen Better
- Be rested and physically alert when you come to class – make sure you have eaten
- Have a positive mindset – “I will learn why…” “I just need to access his ideas.”
- Become engrossed by the ideas
- Listen for the lecturer’s ideas
- Fine something interesting in the lecture to fasten your attention on. (Reading before class helps to set your mind up to receive this information.)
- Think about the ideas before the lecture (Do this by reading, highlighting, jotting down notes – whatever is appropriate.)
- Take notes during the lecture (either sketchy notes, if you have a good memory, or more detailed notes if you have a poor memory.)
- If prof moves fast, jot down main ideas and fill in details after class before you forget.
- Pay attention to his/her cues about what is important: VOCAL INTONATION; ORGANIZATION PATTERN of LECTURE (this helps you know what is coming next)
- If an opinion is involved, listen for the lecturer’s viewpoint and write it down (don’t let your mind get turned off by something you disagree with – you can argue it later when you fully grasp their position)
- Remember you think faster than your prof. can speak – use the extra space for (try these ideas): taking notes, anticipate what he/she will say next; make mental summaries, turn the idea over in your mind, listen for what their words imply/what points are they getting at.
- Sit in class where you can listen best; this may be in front of the room where the activities of other students won’t distract your attention
If You Are Losing Attention
- Use the spider technique during lectures to train yourself to attend longer
- Try to visualize what the professor is saying
- Use visual cues to pull you back (Ken’s idea)
- Write main words down, at least
- Follow points better by making relevant doodles on your notes
- Sit so you look like you are paying attention – your facial expression should look like you are attending (this helps you actually pay attention)
- Consider whether you are getting up early enough for your mind to be alert
- Practice paying attention when people talk to you
- Tape record and make your notes later; this is a last resort for use if you can’t take notes, the professor talks too fast to comprehend well, or you have severe attention deficit disorder.
Susan M. Hice, Ph.D. copyright 2006