Are you attending class with purpose?

Perspectives

By: The Learning Commons Team

Are you Attending Class with Purpose?
Your time is valuable, and every class meeting presents an opportunity to learn. Just showing up, though, does not guarantee you will learn anything. What you DO in the classroom makes all the difference!

What Does It Mean to “Attend Class with Purpose”

The “purpose” is to get the most out of every class meeting; that is, to learn as much as possible during this academic “time-on-task”, since your time is valuable! Attending with purpose takes preparation, motivation, and intention. By doing so, you’ll be far more likely to feel like it was worth your time, and experience the excitement of realizing that you are truly learning!

AGILE Strategies For Making the Most of Each Class
Showing up is only one step (though clearly an important one!) of the process. Learning requires action. Below are tips for how to take action in order to make the most of each class meeting:
Complete all of the reading or other assigned materials. Your professor expects you to have done the preparation for class and will teach as if you have done so. Class can quickly become confusing or frustrating if you aren’t prepared!

Review notes before class. By reviewing the notes from recent class meetings, it “primes” your brain to make the connections between the new concepts and those from earlier class meetings. It also will help you formulate meaningful questions to ask during class.

Arrive early. Arriving early creates the opportunity to get all of your materials ready, to speak with your professor, and to check in with your peers. Being late to class increases your stress, which triggers chemical reactions that reduce the brain’s learning readiness.
Be present. Effective learning only happens when paying full attention.

Take steps to reduce distractions by managing your learning environment and avoiding the urge to multitask.

Listen actively. As your professor is speaking, or when a peer is asking or answering a question, listen to what your brain is telling you. Whenever you “hear” your brain saying, “That reminds me of…” or “That relates to…”, write it down. Your brain is making connections!

Ask questions. If you do not fully understand what is being discussed, raise your hand and ask questions! Your professors want you to ask questions since it creates opportunities to clarify concepts and create meaningful learning for ALL the students in the class.
Take effective notes. If you find yourself thinking, “I don’t need to take notes; I’ll remember,” challenge that belief. When we don’t do anything with information in the moment, we are telling the brain it is not important, and we begin to forget almost immediately.

Effective note-taking is an active, purposeful process in and of itself. Figure out which note-taking approach will work best for each class or subject.
Summarize the class meeting.

Since it is normal to start to forget once you leave class, take steps to interrupt the forgetting process. One strategy is to explain the “big takeaways” and highlights from the discussion to someone else.

Sharing with a peer from the class is a great way to check for consensus on what was important and the accuracy of your understanding.

Part of attending class with purpose is using “AGILE” strategies for note-taking and reading. Visit usm.maine.edu/agile for strategies, printable resources and a schedule of upcoming workshops.

Have a great week!
The Learning Commons Team

USM

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