Back to School 2011: Part 2

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Posted 16 Aug 2011 in Back to School, Featured, Soulville

Hi folks! There isn’t an app for making you go to class and paying attention, but there are some other tools that can help you do better in the classroom. I know this is a tech blog, but sometimes you have to go “old school” and mix that with some modern technology to get the most out of a class. Here are my top 5 tips for stopping the material from going over your head and instead make it go into your brain :)

students sleep in class

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1. Listen. Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing that, especially if you have nothing but 8 am classes. But listening is the step before comprehending. Even if you’re stuck in a class where you never plan on using the material again, listen to what the professor is saying (or not saying) and ask questions. If you’re nervous about asking questions in class, write them down and ask them immediately after class. If you sit through class and never listen, you don’t know what’s important enough to look up after class!

2. Listen….just later. I will admit that I sometimes fell asleep or totally zoned out in class. Especially if it was early morning or after a meal. Even if you’re wide awake, remembering points your professor made can be difficult several hours later. Ask your professor if it is ok to record their lecture on a personal digital recorder for note taking later (and PLEASE don’t keep them after you’re finished or sell them to someone else. it can bring on major trouble). Some professors are ok with it and others are not. If you have a special learning need that really does make your learning better by being able to listen at your own pace later, find your college’s learning assistance center (confidential) and confirm the need. They have a lot of power to help you!

3. Rewrite your notes and merge with notes from class readings. The best notetaking tip I ever got was learning how to take notes in a way that helped me. Everyone doesn’t do well just scribbling on a page. Everyone doesn’t do well just reading a book. Sometimes you have to mix the two. I learned to do my class reading and take notes on half the page, then follow these notes and write clarifying notes in the other half the page during course lecture. It was magical! Of course this might not work for you, but check the web for different styles on sites like this PDF or check with your advisor – they may have plenty of tools to help!

4. Ask the professor if there are good references, tutoring services, or alternative help available. The professor is the “subject matter expert” (most of the time…I admit there are some that I don’t know how they got their job). They should be able to point your toward known university resources (which can include free tutoring) or existing help services. If it wasn’t for services like tutoring or extra help classes, I wouldn’t have made it through a couple of my large intro classes. You could also get or make study guides. If you know the important stuff the professor talked about, make yourself a test or quiz of sorts and use that as your basis for going back through class notes and the book to get as much info as possible before a test. If it turns out none of what he emphasized was on the test, talk to the prof to find out what you missed and do better next time.

5. Improve your reading speed and comprehension. The best class I took was an inadvertent try to keep from falling below full time. I took speed reading, learned several ways of reading and improving my comprehension of reading, and then was able to take that and do better in class. Just note – this class isn’t just for slackers, jocks, and folks that just can’t read well. I went into the class with great comprehension and reading more than 1000 words per minute and came out reading almost 1500 words per minute and increased comprehension.

What tips do you have for people trying to do better in class?? Did any of these work for you?

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