Learning at Uni

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Learning at Uni

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Learning at Uni

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Learning at Uni

Achieve@Uni

Lectures, tutes and labs

Keeping up with lectures is extremely important for study success. Your lectures might be face to face, online, or both, but whatever the format you need to make sure you turn-up, tune-in and engage with the material. You can do that by listening actively and taking reflective notes, and by asking questions and participating in activities whether you’re in a classroom together with other students or in an online forum.

Activity 1. Effective study behaviours in lectures

Learning in lectures

Decide whether each lecture-related activity is likely to help with your study by clicking or tapping on the YES or NO button.

Q1. Print off your lecture notes if they are available on LMS and bring them to the lecture so you can annotate them.
Correct; this is a really good idea as you can skim the slides before the lecture to get an idea of the content, and you can save time during lectures by simply annotating rather than writing detailed lecture notes.
Incorrect; this is a really good idea as you can skim the slides before the lecture to get an idea of the content, and you can save time during lectures by simply annotating rather than writing detailed lecture notes.
Q2. Do any required reading related to the lecture before the lecture.
Correct; it is usually best to do prescribed reading before the lecture and use the lecture as a summary of your reading on a topic rather than an introduction to the topic.
Incorrect; it is usually best to do prescribed reading before the lecture and use the lecture as a summary of your reading on a topic rather than an introduction to the topic.
Q3. Ask questions during the lecture if there is an opportunity to do so.
Correct; most lecturers encourage students to ask questions. It shows you're interested and can help other students too. Be careful not to dominate though!

Incorrect; most lecturers encourage students to ask questions. It shows you're interested and can help other students too. Be careful not to dominate though!

Q4. Make a note of anything you don't understand in the lecture.
Correct; it is really helpful to do this after each lecture so that you can then follow up these questions.

Incorrect; it is really helpful to do this after each lecture so that you can then follow up these questions.

Q5. Email your lecturer every time you find something difficult to understand.
Incorrect; this should not be your first response when you don't understand something. Most subjects have an LMS discussion forum where you can post questions. Check first to see if your question has already been answered there, and if not, post it. In some subjects, lecturers and tutors answer questions on LMS discussion forums.
Correct; this should not be your first response when you don't understand something. Most subjects have an LMS discussion forum where you can post questions. Check first to see if your question has already been answered there, and if not, post it. In some subjects, lecturers and tutors answer questions on LMS discussion forums.
Q6. Re-write your lecture notes after every lecture.
Incorrect; this would be overkill and is probably not a good use of time. Many first year students fall into the trap of mindlessly rewriting notes, often while thinking of something else. Don't be one of them! See question 7 for a better approach.
Correct; this would be overkill and is probably not a good use of time. Many first year students fall into the trap of mindlessly rewriting notes, often while thinking of something else. Don't be one of them! See question 7 for a better approach.
Q7. When you've finished a series of lectures on a topic, use your lecture notes, prescribed reading and/or textbook to create revision notes, ideally in the form of diagrams or mind-maps.
Correct; this is a really good idea as it allows you to get your head around a whole topic and you can synthesise information from a number of sources into a really good set of revision notes. The more active and visual you can be with your note-making, the better you'll remember and understand material for exams.
Incorrect; this is a really good idea as it allows you to get your head around a whole topic and you can synthesise information from a number of sources into a really good set of revision notes. The more active and visual you can be with your note-making, the better you'll remember and understand material for exams.

Video - Cornell Note Taking

The following video explains the Cornell Note Taking method

Find out more about note taking skills at university.

Many subjects at university have tutorials, and attendance at these is often compulsory. However, simply attending a tutorial does not ensure that you will maximize your learning opportunities. There are a number of tutorial related activities that can help you really engage with the subject material.

Use these same skills in workshops or seminars that your subject may have instead of tutorials. All of these types of sessions need you to be actively involved to learn.

Whatever you say during a tutorial discussion is valuable. Everyone’s opinion will be respected. If you are an international student, your experience of other cultures and viewpoints will often be very interesting to the group. 

Some things to try during tutorials:

  • jot down notes when others are speaking to help frame your response and keep you focused on their key ideas.
  • when the speaker is beginning to wind down, start to move forward in your chair—look as if you want to say something.
  • start to speak immediately the other person stops, making sure that everyone can hear you.
  • give an example to illustrate what someone else has said.
  • agree, but add some additional comments or suggestions.
  • disagree and give your reasons.
  • compare what has been said to something else you know about (perhaps something you have read).
  • ask a question.

Activity 1.  Discussion skills

The University of New South Wales has a good page on discussion skills, but there are also many resources to help you with tutorial discussions available on line:

Activity 2. Effective study behaviours in tutorials

Contributing to tutorial discussions

Consider whether the following responses are appropriate or not appropriate in a tutorial discussion context.

  Question APPROPRIATE NOT APPROPRIATE
1.

'You're totally missing the point'.

This is considered a direct and abrasive approach in Australian English.

2.

'That's one way of looking at it, but from my reading it seems that...'.

Notice how the objection is 'softened' by first acknowledging the previous speaker's contribution. Then the speaker's own view is expressed tentatively (seems).

3.

'I can see why you would say that, but from my understanding...',

Here the previous speaker is acknowledged. Then the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own interpretation.

4.

'Actually, I'm not sure about that...'.

In this question, the speaker expresses doubt in his/her own understanding, deflecting from open criticism.

5.

'That's all very well, but the reality is.....'

'That's all very well' generally preempts a direct objection. The reference to 'reality' suggests that the previous speaker misunderstands the context.

6.

'No, you are quite wrong about that...'

This is very direct and accuses the previous speaker of ignorance.

7.

'I'm sorry to contradict you, but I think .....'

This response is softened with an apology about contradicting. Then the speaker say he/she 'thinks' (not 'knows') which is softening.

8.

'I think your answer is ridiculous...'.

This is very insulting.

9.

'As I understand it, the reading implies that...'.

The speaker frames his/her own understanding as personal and possibly incorrect, opening this interpretation to possible critique.

10.

'You may not agree with me, but shouldn't we be thinking more about...'.

The speaker acknowledges differences in opinion by pre-empting any objections, then tries to lead the discussion in a new direction.

Check
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Activity 3. Try a Quescussion with your study group for practice

A Quescussion is a discussion where participants can only use questions - no statements!

  • Everyone takes a turn directing a question to another speaker who has to reply to the group or individual using a question.
  • Anyway who mistakenly makes a statement and doesn't ask a question is out of the game for the next turn (or whatever 'punishment' you think fitting!)
  • No fake (or 'tag') questions are allowed (e.g., That's not quite correct, is it?)
  • It's fun. Good luck!

Laboratory classes give you an opportunity to get hands-on practice with techniques and ideas related to your subject. For most of your lab classes, you will learn much more effectively if you are prepared for the class.

The aims of laboratory classes are to:

  • Experience phenomena directly.
  • Connect book knowledge to real-world applications.
  • Apply concepts to new situations and solve authentic problems.
  • Develop thinking skills (critical, quantitative, qualitative).
  • Develop data analysis skills.
  • Develop experimental skills (e.g., design, observation, and use of equipment).
  • Develop communication skills, including those involved in working in groups.
  • Develop an appreciation for research in the field.

Adapted from http://citl.illinois.edu/teaching-resources/teaching-in-specific-contexts/laboratory-classes]

So laboratory classes are NOT an opportunity to read the newspaper or send messages on your phone! They are an important part of your learning.

Taking note of what you did, what you found and what your findings mean is essential in a laboratory class. These notes will be needed to prepare your Laboratory Report.

The University of New South Wales provides some excellent guidance on writing lab reports:

There is also a section on scientific writing in the Achieve@Uni Writing Module.

Activity 4. Effective study behaviours in laboratory classes

Learning in laboratory classes

Which of the following activities should you do to prepare for a lab class?

Q1. Read the lab manual or lab notes for the class and try to understand what you'll be doing
Yes, reading the lab manual or notes is good preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; reading the lab manual or notes is good preparation for a lab class.
Q2. Look up any words in the lab manual that you don't understand.
Yes, looking up any words that you don't understand is good preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; looking up any words that you don't understand is good preparation for a lab class.
Q3. Think about how the lab activity relates to the theory you've been learning about in lectures
Yes, thinking about how the lab activity relates to the theory is good preparation for a lab class.

Incorrect; thinking about how the lab activity relates to the theory is good preparation for a lab class.

Q4. Find journal articles about similar experiments that have been conducted
Correct. It is not necessary to find journal articles on similar experiments.

No, it is not necessary to find journal articles on similar experiments.

Q5. Make sure you have all of the equipment you will need (e.g. lab coat, Survival Guide)
Yes, making sure that you have all of the equipment you will need is good preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; making sure that you have all of the equipment you will need is good preparation for a lab class.
Q6. Look on LMS to see if there is any information posted about the lab activity (e.g. something to bring)
Yes, looking on the LMS to see if there is any further information is good preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; looking on the LMS to see if there is any further information is good preparation for a lab class.
Q7. Try the experiment at home first
Correct; there is no need to try the experiment at home first in preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; there is no need to try the experiment at home first in preparation for a lab class.
Q8. Check if there is a pre-prac quiz for the lab class
Yes, checking if there is a pre-prac quiz for the lab is good preparation for a lab class.
Incorrect; checking if there is a pre-prac quiz for the lab is good preparation for a lab class.

Video - university note taking skills

The following video provides more information about note taking at university.