During class the professor

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  • 1. I stay awake during class.
  • 2. I maintain eye contact with the speaker.
  • 3. I don't fake interest in the subject.
  • 4. I understand the instructor's questions.
  • 5. I try to summarize the information.

6. I look for organizational patterns(e.g. causes and effects, listing of items).

  • 6. I look for organizational patterns(e.g. causes and effects, listing of items).
  • 7. I set a purpose for listening.
  • 8. I forego the temptation to daydream during class.
  • 9. I try to predict what will come next.
  • 10. I take notes regularly (but not constantly).

11. I ignore external distractions such as loud noises, late arriving students.

  • 11. I ignore external distractions such as loud noises, late arriving students.
  • 12. I try to determine the speaker's purpose.
  • 13. I recognize that the speaker may be biased about the subject.
  • 14. I write down questions the instructor poses during class.
  • 15. I copy down items from the chalkboard or overhead projector.

What does it mean to really listen?

  • Hearing. Hearing just means listening enough to catch what the speaker is saying. For example, say you were listening to a lecture on zebras, and the speaker mentioned that “no two are alike.”
  • If you can repeat the fact, then you have heard what has been said.
  • Understanding. The next part of listening happens when you take what you have heard and understand it in your own way.
  • Let's go back to zebra lecture: When you hear that no two are alike, think about what that might mean. You might think, "Maybe this means that the pattern of stripes is different for each zebra."
  • Judging. After you are sure you understand what the speaker has said, think about whether it makes sense.
  • Do you believe what you have heard? You might think, "How could the stripes to be different for every zebra? But then again, the fingerprints are different for every person. I think this seems believable."


  • Handout
  • online

BEFORE: Make notes on talking points that you want to take with you to class

  • Anything you don’t understand
  • Anything with which you disagree or strongly agree
  • Both good and poor examples
  • Both strong and weak arguments

DURING: How to Speak Up

  • Jump in early – for stage fright and so no one gets there first to your good points
  • Be brief and to the point – let the professor draw you out if appropriate
  • To open it up: “Another point to consider is…”
  • Information question:  "I don't understand....“
  • Clarifying question:  "Is it true that...?"
  • Not all discussion contributions are created equal – use you head!

Speaking – oral presentations

  • Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em
  • Tell ‘em
  • Tell ‘em you told ‘em

AFTER: Pay attention to topics which

  • The professor allowed the most discussion for
  • The professor seemed to get the most involved with

Expect essay or short-answer questions on tests

  • This allows the same format – intelligent discussion – that the professor chose for conducting the class
  • Objective questions would be difficult to construct because there’s been no clear, set information base

Evaluating a professor’s management of class discussion - American University course evaluation

Multiple Intelligences

  • Word smart
  • Logic smart
  • Picture smart
  • Music smart
  • Body smart
  • People smart
  • Self smart
  • Categorizing smart

INTERPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE: “People Smart” social workers, teachers, negotiators, clergy INTRAPERSONAL “Self Smart” counselors, theologians, the self-employed

Good listening habits

  • Handout
  • online


  • When listening to someone, do you often find yourself thinking about a job or task that is nearing deadline or an important family matter?
  • In the middle of a conversation, do you sometimes realize that you haven't heard a word the other person has said?
  • Most individuals speak at the rate of 175 to 200 words per minute. However, research suggests that we are very capable of listening and processing words at the rate of 600 to 1,000 words per minute. This discrepancy can be a barrier to effective listening, causing the listener to miss or misinterpret what’s being said by rushing ahead – into your head…


  • When someone is talking to you, do you maintain eye contact with that person?
  • Do you show the speaker you are listening by nodding your head? Tilting your head to the right seems to work.
  • Do you nod in agreement from time to time?
  • Are you leaning forward and not using your hands to play with things?
  • Does your body language say you’re open - e.g. not arms crossed over your chest? That you’re interested – not slouching?
  • Do you smile occasionally? Pasting a small smile on your face, no matter how artificial, starts to relax you, too.

How important is it to recognize non-verbal messages? Autism is the inability to read faces or to comprehend or process emotions


  • As Sigmund Freud knew,
  • commenting on non-verbal signs
  • (such as leg and foot movements,
  • known as “nonverbal leakage”):

A listening attitude

  • Keeps the “dance” going
  • Head-nodding and eye contact don’t necessarily mean your agree, but do mean you’re interested.
  • You listen with your face as well as your ears.
  • Makes an upward spiral of good energy
  • Most communication experts agree that nonverbal messages can be three times as powerful as verbal messages.


  • Because a listener can listen at a faster rate than most speakers talk, there is a tendency to evaluate too quickly.
  • It is especially important to avoid early evaluations when listening to a person with whom you disagree. When listeners begin to disagree with a sender's message, they tend to misinterpret the remaining information and distort its intended meaning so that it is consistent with their own beliefs.

Capitalize on your faster thought speed.  Use this time wisely.

  • Predict what will be discussed next.
  • Evaluate evidence presented.
  • Find links among topics or details.
  • Think of additional questions or comments you might make.


  • Careful listening does not mean that you will always agree with the other party's point of view, but it does mean that you will try to listen to what the other person is saying without becoming overly defensive.
  • Too much time spent explaining, elaborating, and defending your decision or position is a sure sign that you are not listening. This is because your role has changed from one of listening to a role of convincing others they are wrong.
  • After listening to a position or suggestion with which you disagree, simply respond with something like, "I understand your point. We just disagree on this one."


  • Paraphrasing is the art of putting into your own words what you thought you heard and saying it back to the sender.
    • First, you have to listen very carefully if you are going to accurately paraphrase what you heard.
    • Second, the paraphrasing response will clarify for the sender that his or her message was correctly received and encourage the sender to expand on what he or she is trying to communicate
  • For example, a subordinate might say: "You have been unfair to rate me so low on my performance appraisal. You have rated me lower than Jim. I can do the job better than him, and I've been here longer." A paraphrased response back might be: "I can see that you are upset about your rating. You think it was unfair for me to rate you as I did."

Provide feedback

    • Reflect what has been said by rephrasing: “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…”
    • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…” “Is this what you mean?”
    • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.


  • The way a speaker is standing, the tone of voice and inflection he or she is using, and what the speaker is doing with his or her hands are all part of the message that is being sent.
    • persons who raises their voices are likely either angry or frustrated.
    • persons looking down while speaking are likely either embarrassed or shy.
    • Interruptions may suggest fear or lack of confidence.
    • Persons who make eye contact and lean forward are likely exhibiting confidence.
    • Arguments may reflect worry.
    • Inappropriate silence may be a sign of aggression and be intended as punishment.

Professor David Walsh, Politics, Catholic University in the Washington Post, September, 1999

  • “A teacher surrounded by students remains the only way in which education
  • in the full sense takes place.
  • Body language, tone of voice, personality and emotion are all indispensable.”


  • Effective listeners make certain they have correctly heard the message that is being sent, so ask questions to clarify points or to obtain additional information.
  • Open-ended questions - “What are some of the reasons you say that….” - work best because they require the speaker to convey more information.
  • Form your questions in a way that makes it clear you have not yet drawn any conclusions.

  • WHY?
  • WHAT
  • IF?
  • WHAT?
  • HOW?
  • Learning Style favorite questions


  • Some professors
  • call on students
  • Some professors ask for volunteers
  • How to define “participation”


  • 5
  • 3
  • 5%
  • Handout
  • online

Studying in a group by using DISCUSSION

  • Test each other by asking questions
  • Practice teaching each other
  • Brainstorm possible test questions
  • Discuss and debate open-ended topics

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