Learning from lectures

The following guidance has been created for you by the Student Learning Advisory Service. For more detailed guidance and to speak to one of our advisers, please book an appointment , join one of our workshops or access our SkillBuilder video series. 

The purpose of lectures

Lectures are group sessions delivered at key stages in a module, they are important to you successfully starting and completing a module. Each one allows your lecturer to:

  • Share ‘core’ knowledge about the module in a logical sequence
  • Give an overview of the central issues pertaining to the module
  • Introduce and evaluate evidence that supports the module
  • Examine alternative views and hypotheses
  • Include the most up-to-date content

Lectures offer you a start point to confidently research topics and develop your own thinking in order to complete assignments successfully. It is essential that you not only attend lectures, but use the following advice to gain as much as you can from them.

Preparing for a lecture

  1. find out how the lecture relates to the module
  2. browse through core texts and note information and definitions regarding key concepts or terms mentioned in lecture titles or descriptions
  3. check your notes from previous lectures on the module and think about how the next lecture may relate to and build on the ideas from the previous week/s
  4. ensure you are prepared for note-taking
  5. ensure you have had something to eat and drink, as hunger hinders concentration. If you struggle to concentrate ensure you sit nearer the front, the closer you are to what is happening the more engaged you are likely to be.

Engagement during a lecture

  1. Arrive Promptly - Lecturers often explain the structure of the lecture right at the beginning, if you miss this you are less likely to understand the whole session. If you are listening to the lecture via Kent Player make sure you listen to all of it.
  2. Note making – For detailed advice and suggestions on how to make effective notes, see our study guide Note Making. Most lectures aim to develop your ‘grasp of the subject’, therefore try to identify and record:
    • key terms and meaning
    • key issues, concepts, theories or formulae
    • references and suggestions for further reading
  1. Ask for clarification – Lecturers usually allow time for questions at the end of the lecture, try to ask your question in this time as many students may have similar questions. Alternatively, speak with the lecturer before he or she leaves the room. Asking for clarification helps you to understand the topic better and also helps the lecturer to assess how much students understand.

After the lecture

  1. Discuss your notes - Get together with colleagues as soon as possible to review your understanding of the lecture and your notes. If there is an aspect that collectively baffles you, speak with the lecturer or undertake expected reading.
  2. Work with your notes – Notes are only as good as what you do with them, they should help you to research and develop your understanding of the topic. Think about what you need to do now to learn most effectively from your notes e.g.:
    • highlight key terms/points in order to identify core issues
    • regroup information to help you make more sense of how it all relates
    • research and fill in gaps in notes to aid your understanding. Key terms from your notes should help you to undertake research for assignments
  3. File your notes – Ensure you file your notes in a logical place/order so you can refer to them at a later date. It is advisable to keep backup copies of notes both digital (scanned or typed) and hard copy (hand-written or printed).  
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