When you listen well you are able to learn more. When students lack proper listening skills their grades suffer because lectures are one of the main ways information is presented in college. Make the most of your classroom time by processing the information presented to you with these active listening skills.
Focus on the meaning
To be an effective listener you must focus on the meaning of the message being presented, not just the words being said. Figure out what the main idea of the lecture is, and organize everything else around it. Once you know what the main idea is you can then focus on the stories, details, definitions, and explanations that fully explain the concepts being presented. This focus on the meaning will help you be a better listener.
Let the lecture determine the way you take notes
Different professors teach in different ways, and you must be flexible with the way you take notes. Writing down every bit of information a teacher says is not always the best way to record a lecture, though it might be necessary in some situations. This can often leave you with too much information that becomes overwhelming and confusing. It is often more useful to work from the main idea of the lecture, and organize you notes around the important ideas being presented.
Pay attention when information is hard to comprehend
It is most difficult, but most important to pay close attention when complicated and difficult concepts are being taught. Effective listeners try to work through and understand the information as it is being discussed.
Be attentive and concentrate
Difficulty concentrating is often a problem with poor listeners. In order to improve your listening skills you must learn to ignore distractions and focus on the speaker. You must pay attention to what is being said instead of daydreaming, or thinking about what is going on in your life. When you concentrate on the professor, you will comprehend and remember more of what is being said.
Always be prepared for class. Do the required reading assignments prior to arriving in the classroom and go over your notes from earlier lectures in the few minutes before class begins. When you are prepared for the lecture you know what to expect and can better focus on what is being said and where it fits in to the scheme of things.
Figure out the “whys”
When listening to a lecture ask yourself about the whys of what is being said. When you are focused on specific facts you do not integrate new knowledge into what you already know. When you ask yourself why you can better understand what the professor is explaining.
Take an interest
Make a conscious choice to be interested in what is being said. If you approach class as something that is going to be boring and uninteresting, you are not going to listen effectively. Make the choice to pay attention and try to understand the material.