1. Print off lecture notes
In many subjects, lecturers will often post the lecture notes before class. A great way to stay engaged in the class is to follow along with the slides and highlight/note important points. This will save you copying down chunks of information, and ensure you’re focused on more of the lecture. If your lecturer doesn’t post slides before class, we’d encourage you to ask them to do so.
2. Revise each class
Get in the habit early of spending 30-60 minutes after each class revising the key points of the lecture. Make a note of what they are, and expand on them to ensure you really understand them. Nailing down the fundamentals is the key to building your understanding later on in the course. Studies have found that students that do this, on average retain information 80% better.
3. Turn off Social Media in Class
Stand outside a lecture theatre before class, and chances are everyone will be on their phone. That’s fine, but when you get in there, make the time count. Try not to check your phone for messages and turn off Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.
4. Say ‘gday’ to your lecturer
We cannot overstate this point. Often lecturers who seem stiff in class, are wonderful one-on-one. Make a point of speaking to your lecturer after and before class, and seeing if they are available for consultation. You never know when you’ll need them to write you a letter of recommendation, or review your assessment marks. It’s your professors who are your greatest resource in learning the materials in class.
Research has shown informal, friendly contact with academic staff is a significant factor in academic success (Pascarella and Terenzini, 1998).
5. Doodling is fine
Studies have shown having a doodle in class can help release pent up creative energy, helping you focus better. We’re certainly not telling you to play hangman or pencil golf with the person next to you, but if you’re zoning out during a boring lecture, doodling is fine.
Pascarella, E. & Terenzini, P. (1998) How college affects students: Findings and insights from twenty years of research, San Francisco: Jossey Bass.