21 November 2012

Those kinda lectures...

Going to University to become a full time student involves a workload which is pretty unlike any other experience. There's a good chance you'll only have 10-12 hours of contact a week, but then you're expected to put in a minimum of another 30 or so hours a week by yourself. Studying in this way really does become a full time job, not to mention that a number of students have actual jobs on the sidelines as well. Anyway for those hours when you're making contact you'll be expected to sit and listen to someone talk for a large majority of the time. 

This is what my workload looked like in Sixth Form, it doesn't look much different except it's bigger with less chocolate!

I agree that this could be considered a good approach to learning if you're studying a subject along the lines of English or History where the general idea of the course is for you to gain a huge basis of knowledge on some pretty specific subjects, and where most opinions towards the topics could be considered correct. Your main aim for lectures in these subjects is to come away from the lectures armed with a brief overview of a topic and an arsenal of places to go look into it in further detail. You're expected to do a lot of reading in your own time, and from friends who do study these subjects I'd say that it works pretty well. 

But I also think that it's perhaps hands down the worst way to learn a subject like the one that I'm studying. If you don't know that's maths, and actually I didn't do all too badly last year based on this kind of teaching, but I think that has a lot more to do with the effort and time I put in by myself than anything that my lecturers gave me, with one exception. My lecturers last year, with the aforementioned exception were deadly dull. We would come in, sit down and listen for two hours with a 10 minute break in the middle. The lecturer would very quickly go through a whole host of rather complicated computations and often each would build upon the last, there would be no pause to check that the concept was understood and no chance for you yourself to check that you actually did get it. 

It probably does work for some people, but I'm inclined to say that they're in the minority. For most people I think that subjects require a more active approach with slightly more guidance. I think on the whole we'd learn better if we were given more opportunities to practice questions during the course of lectures, so we could notice our problems immediately and ask if we could be shown a different approach.  

Too often you find yourself lost after just a little while and the problem only builds on itself. You then find yourself spending a week trying to wade through a huge list of problems you had before you can get through your work and reach a neutral position for the start of the next. I'm not saying that all the work should be done for you because that will get you nowhere and teach you nothing. I'm just saying that you'd probably get a lot further if they made it a little easier for you.

It is their job to teach after all.

What d'you think?


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