Number. 35 © CDTL 2003
Lectures/Large Classes: How You Can Cope
Assistant Professor William Koh
Department of Management & Organisation

Quite a few core courses in various faculties still rely on the lecture and tutorial delivery format. This article aims to help you cope with lectures/large classes when your sign up for such modules.

With the campus-wide shift in emphasis from the teaching to the learning mode, how lectures and tutorials are conducted has changed. For instance, course coordinators are likely to assign a large amount of articles for students to read and do some self-learning prior to each lecture. Thus, my first advice to you is: do your homework. Read what you are supposed to read before you come for lectures or tutorials. Doing so will certainly enhance your learning as concepts raised in class will already be familiar to you. You can then use classroom time to re-affirm your knowledge of key concepts found in the readings, reinforce what you have learnt previously and clarify any doubts.

Second, do not be shy to ask questions. If you have done your preparation by reading all the assigned readings, you would be equipped to understand some of the key topics discussed in the lecture. But if you do not understand any of the readings or what the lecturer is talking about, do not feel bad to ask the lecturer to re-explain certain things, especially when the explanation was not quite clear in the first instance. For many students, asking questions during a large class can be quite a challenge because they fear that the instructor will categorise their questions as ‘stupid’. On the contrary, by overcoming this fear and daring to ask questions that come into your mind, you will certainly help to make the class more interesting.

Third, contribute answers when your lecturer grants you the opportunity to do so in the lecture theatre. In this way, you can have your doubts clarified and uncertainties resolved. At the same time, your lecturer will be more than glad to have someone answer his or her questions and make the class more interactive.

Fourth, check with the lecturer in private if you have further reservations concerning the lecture materials. This can be done via email, telephone, personal consultation or online course discussion forums such as the Integrated Virtual Learning Environment Discussion (IVLE) Forum. Your lecturer will most likely be impressed that you are thinking about the topic and are willing to engage in discussion outside of formal class time.

Fifth, clear all your doubts with the lecturer on a regular basis instead of leaving all these questions until the very end of the semester. As many of the topics taught in a course are intertwined, any delay in clarifying doubts regarding lessons taught early in the semester will lead to sub-par understanding of materials covered subsequently.

Finally, try your very best to refrain from talking in class while the lecture is going on. This distracts the lecturer as well as disturbs your fellow students seated near you. If you really do find some lectures rather boring, it might be better for you to miss the lecture altogether, rather than turn up for class only to chitchat with your friends while the lecture is going on.

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