Most of us have spent some time in a classroom in our lives, and many of us will do so again, whether it’s for a certification program, technical training, soft skills seminar, etc. Few of us, however, have probably given too much thought to how we conduct ourselves in a classroom setting and how particular approaches might help us learn better.
With that in mind, this week’s Study Guide will focus on some of the ways in which students can get more out of their classroom experiences. (For the purposes of this article, the “classroom” is limited to the live lecture format.)
- Do your homework. Before you take the class, that is. You need to know whether this will really help you achieve your career goals, so thoroughly evaluate what subjects the course will cover, who will teach it, what materials will be used and how much all of it will cost. Remember: This is an investment. Make sure you put your time, effort and money into something that will pay off down the line.
- Get there on time. This is important not only because you don’t want to miss anything but also because it’s a courtesy to your instructors and fellow students. If you come in after the class has started, it will be a disruption, no matter how stealthily you manage to sneak in. You’ll still have to find a seat and get out all of your note-taking implements. Plus, getting to class early allows you to better accomplish the next step…
- Find a good spot. When looking for a spot in the classroom, you’ll want to consider a few factors. First, what’s a good distance for actually taking in the sights and sounds of the lecture? How large is the room? Will the instructor be using any multimedia tools?
Also, try to avoid any distractions. If there’s a window in the room, don’t sit where you’ll be tempted to spend most of the session enjoying the view instead of paying attention to the teacher. Ditto for attractive classmates.
- Ask questions. You definitely want to try to pick your instructor’s brain, and a great way to do so is by asking questions in class. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, however. For starters, don’t just blurt out any question you can think of. If some query pops into your head during the lecture, wait a few minutes to see whether the teacher gets to it. If not, then wait for the brief lull in the talk that comes during a transition to another topic or, if it doesn’t come, the end of the class.
- Review what was covered. Following the session, look over your notes to see what was discussed, what you might be unclear about and what might have been missed. You can save those questions for the next class, or you might be able to contact your instructor before then. Many teachers today give students their e-mail addresses, and they welcome correspondence during off-hours. If you have that opportunity, take advantage of it.