Many first- and second-year students will have to take introductory lecture courses. The large lecture may be the reason colleges lose a larger percentage of students in these years than in the last two years of college. In fact 20% fail lecture courses and another 15% earn either D’s or drop out.
There are simple reasons for poor performance in large lecture courses. One is the grade in such courses is usually based on only two tests, a midterm and a final. In large classes it’s harder to win any points from class discussion, a personal relationship with the professor, or participation. Also because these classes are so large and impersonal, it’s easy for students to skip classes and miss materials. Even on-line notes can’t replace the class experience.
The New York Times article How to Survive the Lecture Course by Laura Pappano offers some great suggestions.
Don’t skip the class! College course success is highly predicted by attendance. You need to attend the lectures.
If your lecture is early in the morning, go to the gym and work out before attending to get the juices flowing.
Check to see if there is a for-credit class on your campus for navigating a lecture course and take it.
While taking notes, notice change in voice, gesturing, or visuals for emphasis to guide what you note down as important. (At UConn, a T.A. took 6 pages of notes for a ten-minute segment of a lecture while the first-year students in the course only took 3 pages.)
Stay in touch with the materials. For each day’s lecture, study your notes as if preparing for a pop-quiz over the material. One way to study is to recopy the notes from that day’s lecture.
Most often it’s study habits, not intelligence, that gets students through. You can do it!