ATTENTIVE LISTENING   back

The University of Alabama
Center for Academic Success
124 Osband
348-5175

Do you ever find yourself nodding off in class? Are you tempted to skip class because you get so little from it anyway? Maybe, too, you find at test-taking time that the instructor asks you about information youíve never heard of. Itís very likely that the material was presented during those days when you simply tuned out the lecture. So, what can you do about it?

You may choose to listen attentively. Listening is a process of patience as the human brain works about four times as fast as the mouth, and to listen effectively requires considerable self-control. There are many techniques for developing and maintaining the self-discipline needed for attentive listening. Here are several techniques:

1. DEVELOP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
You are taking that class for some reason; therefore, you have an investment in it. Make the most of your investment. Each class or course may not create the same appeal or interest for you. But on the other hand, neither will each task or undertaking in "life after college" be enticing or rewarding in itself. Keep in mind your long-term goals regarding education and preparation for your lifework. Getting the most out of this course is one step toward that goal.

2. INTEND TO FOLLOW YOUR PROFESSORíS LECTURE CLOSELY
Go to class determined to listen. Make it a challenge. Try to understand the professorís style of lecturing by listening closely. Professors have
individual lecture styles and learning that style can help you detect key statements and concepts.

3. DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY AN INSTRUCTORíS MANNERISMS, DELIVERY, OR VOICE
Concentrate instead on what is said. If you disagree, jot down points of disagreement to bring up later.

4. LISTEN WITH YOUR MIND NOT YOUR EMOTIONS
If the speaker uses a word
you donít like, or makes a point contrary to your beliefs, donít stop listening ó youíll only be defeating yourself. You donít have to agree, but donít allow yourself to be turned off from listening.

5. SIT CLOSE TO THE FRONT OF THE CLASS
By positioning yourself
close to the professor, you can focus on his or her face, follow the lecture more effectively, and increase your incentive for attentive listening.

6. BE ALERT
As you probably know, this is not always easy. Avoid eating heavy meals before class; get adequate rest; wear clothing that will allow you to be comfortable and develop an erect posture of attentiveness (rather than a slouch). When you find your mind wandering, shift your focus by looking around the room until you become more alert.

7. READ THE TEXT BEFORE CLASS
This makes the material presented in the lecture clearer, more recognizable, and more retainable.

8. TAKE NOTES
Students who involve themselves with writing down statements and thoughts from the lecture tend to remember more of the material. Besides helping to keep you awake, the physical act of writing will assist you in concentrating and in organizing your thoughts.

9. INFORMALLY SHARE YOUR IDEAS
Getting to know several other people in your class and occasionally getting together to share ideas can help to clarify the information and to solidify learning. Getting together can also create enthusiasm and make learning a lot more fun.

10. ASK QUESTIONS
Questions about the meaning of terms are a good place to start. Best of all, by asking questions you become an active participant in the class rather than a passive observer taking in the events.

11. INTERPRET THE LECTURE
Process the information in light of the previous knowledge and experience to keep your thought processes active and to integrate your learning.

12. EVALUATE YOUR INFORMATION
Sort through information presented to determine the material that is important and critical for remembering.

 Keep these steps in mind as you attend your next class. Adopt them as guidelines for getting the most from classroom lectures as your work toward academic achievement. The rewards will surprise you!