By: Tory Dockree, Tabatha May, and Emily Meilleur-Rivers
Have you thought about your first lecture yet? Going into our first lecture, many things, including the size of the room surprised us. That’s why we’re here to share some insight into what your first lecture may be like and provide you with some tips and tricks for how to succeed.
What even is a lecture?
A lecture is a presentation by your professor on the course content. Depending on your program, lectures can include anywhere from 50 to 600 people. Usually, first-year classes are closer to the 600-person mark. During the lecture, students take notes on key ideas to reference and study later on. Here are some tips to keep in mind when classes start.
- Make sure your electronics are charged the night before. There’s nothing worse than losing power without an outlet in sight.
- Pack your bag the night before with lunch or snacks, stationary (including multiple pens), and anything else you’ll need to avoid scrambling in the morning.
- Check your syllabus/course outline to see what your upcoming lecture(s) will cover so that you have a sense of what to expect. This will normally be available on Avenue to Learn before or shortly after your first lecture.
- Browse for any material (slides, videos, lecture outlines, learning objectives) that your professor has uploaded.
- Read assigned texts beforehand and record notes and questions as you go—this will help you get ready for quizzes, tests, and final exams.
- Get enough rest the night before so that you can attend class with an active mind.
Lecture preparation is one of those things that comes with practice. You’ll soon realize how much time you need to complete your readings and have a clear sense of the context for a specific lecture. At the beginning of the semester, you have a lighter workload, so we recommend taking advantage of this. Try to get ahead on your readings, test different note-taking strategies, and develop efficient reading skills.
What are the different types of lectures?
These old-school classes feature you, your prof, and at least a 50-minute presentation. Oftentimes these lectures forgo using powerpoints in favour of a more free-form spoken presentation. Professors will usually follow a Ted Talk-style format in which they impart their thoughts and wisdom onto you while sometimes making space for you to ask questions throughout.
A lot of your lectures will stick to a very classic style. The professor usually gives a one hour talk, accompanied by a powerpoint slideshow. A classic lecture is great, but it comes with a few challenges. While powerpoints can be incredibly helpful, it’s easy to become too reliant on them. Instead of writing down every word on the powerpoint, try to use them as a guide to keep up with what your professor is saying.
The iClicker is an extension of the classic lecture. It features many of the same basic attributes like the use of powerpoints; however, it showcases another tool – the iClicker. Every fifteen minutes or so these lectures are interrupted by impromptu practice questions that you will have to answer on your remote.
Interactive lectures usually involve a blend of classic lecturing and discussion. While professors will still lead a lecture, they may ask you to discuss certain topics in groups or complete certain brainstorm style activities. For example, we’ve been asked to brainstorm a list of ideas with our classmates about the content the professor is teaching and present the main themes that emerged. These are a great way to make connections and begin to think through the content.
Much like a long road trip these lectures are a commitment. They are three hours of consistent lecturing; however, most of them will have breaks periodically. We highly encourage you to do things like take notes by hand during these classes so that you aren’t tempted to be distracted by things like your computer.
By now, you are likely well-aware that there are a lot of unique challenges at university and lectures are a large piece of this puzzle. The good news is that you also have your own unique set of skills and you will learn how you can apply them to challenges you encounter. If you approach lectures knowing that you can (and should) explore how best to connect with and process information given to you, they might be a little less intimidating. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about tutorials and how to address the different set of challenges they present!
About Tory, Tabatha and Emily
I’m going into my third year of Arts & Science with a combination in Philosophy.
I’m going into my fourth year of Social Psychology with a minor in Sociology.
I just finished my undergrad in English and Cultural Studies with a Minor in Women’s Studies. In September, I am sticking around at Mac to start my Master’s in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory.