Critical listening skills will help you make the most of your lectures.
What is the purpose of a lecture?
- To teach a ‘body of knowledge’
- To help you identify and understand key concepts in the field
- To make you think about a subject in a new way
- To make you see a topic from different perspectives
- To stimulate you to think 'critically'
Before the lecture
- Read recommended texts/ recommended readings
- Become familiar with key vocabulary in the field
- Start thinking about the topic
- Check the lecture summary in the subject outline – make sure you know what the lecturer is trying to achieve
- Have some prepared questions to ask in the next lecture to check your levels of understanding
During the lecture
- Be an active listener, which is:
- think about the topic
- ask yourself questions
- relate new ideas to what you already know
- concentrate on the 'meaning' of what is being discussed
- listen for and make notes on main points
- try to see the connections that may exist between other content and this content
- Why take notes?
- Helps you remember the content
- Gives you a framework for revision
- Helps you to stay alert in the lecture
After the lecture
- Try to talk to someone else about the content and compare your ideas and levels of understanding.
- Ask your lecturer for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation if it was used in the lecture.
- Re-read and reorganise your notes and handouts -try to summarise your ideas.
- Do some further follow up reading on these ideas.
- List things you don’t understand to ask your tutor.
- Prepare and read for your next lecture(s)/tutorials .
Listening critically means that you are actively engaging, questioning, comparing and contrasting what you are hearing. It involves actively listening, or fully concentrating on what is being said, whilst you are taking notes, along with synthesising the information and constantly evaluating its content.
Critical listening skills are essential at university, and a prerequisite for attending lectures and tutorials.