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Listening Skills

Listening is a skill which requires active participation.  A student must listen skillfully if learning is to occur.  Also, attitude is probably the most important element for active listening.  So assume a positive attitude!!  Convince yourself that the lecturer has something useful to share.

The student reveals a positive attitude by maintaining a pleasant facial expression.  Keeping your eyes on the lecturer when not writing notes and nodding your head when you agree are both forms of active participation.  As a result, you will notice a more enthusiastic flow of words and ideas.

Typical Student Listening Habits

    Bad Habits                                                                                           Good Habits

1.  Calling a subject dull.  A poor listener will "turn off" as soon as s/he decides a lecture is going to be dull.  (Such a decision is usually based on ignorance rather than knowledge.) 1.  A good listener will listen closely for information that can be important or useful, even in a seemingly dull presentation.
2.  Criticizing a speaker.  A poor listener will find fault with the speaker (i.e., monotonous voice) and infer that the speaker can't have anything important to say. 2.  A good listener will realize that a lecture is not a fashion show.  S/he will look for ideas, not things to criticize.
3.  Over-reacting.  A poor listener will become so involved in disagreeing with the lecturer that s/he will miss most of the lecture. 3.  A good listener will listen with the mind, not with the emotions....
4.  Listening for facts only.  A poor listener wants only facts and considers the "big picture" as nothing more than someone else's opinion. 4.  A good listener wants to see how facts illustrate principles, how examples illustrate ideas, and how evidence supports arguments.
5.  False attention.  A poor listener will lock his/her eyes onto the speaker and then relax, expecting to retrieve information out of the text later, during study time. 5.  A good listener realizes that each lecture is an opportunity to get (in a short time) facts and ideas that the speaker took hours to assemble.
6.  Yielding to distractions.  A poor listener will use every distraction -- footsteps, a door opening, a cough -- as an excuse to stop listening. 6.  a good listener disciplines her or himself to shut out distractions and to concentrate on the speaker's message.
7.  Limited lecture notes.  A poor listener will neglect to take notes of main ideas and details. 7.  A good listener will take notes as a reminder of key main ideas and details of what was said.
8.  Few review sessions.  a poor listener will neglect to review lecture notes periodically prior to testing. 8.  A good listener will review notes soon after the lecture ends to ascertain clarity of notes.
9.  Disregard questions asked by speaker during the lecture. 9.  A good listener will note down all speaker's questions from lecture in the margins as possible questions for a later test.

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