Whatever students' experience of a lecture, it is usually intended that students should build on what has been gained from the lecture, and this may involve making reference to their records of lectures.
The distinction is sometimes made between taking notes and making notes. Some students may 'take' notes in lectures, and 'make' notes later, that is, actively process or work with the notes they have taken. All students can benefit from advice about ways of 'making' notes. Mind-mapping either with pen and paper, or with a computer, is found to be useful by many students, particularly those who prefer to organise material in a visual rather than textual way.
"If you say to them that they are going too fast, they say, well you're not supposed to copy everything that I put up on the overheads, but you are supposed to take notes from my dictation. I find that difficult."
Lecturers vary in what notes they expect students to 'take', and students who are exposed to many different lecturers are likely to be helped if individual lecturers make explicit what they think students should do with the notes they have 'taken'.
Even where the sound quality of a taped lecture is good, effective use of taped lectures may not be straightforward. Students may benefit from guidance in developing a system for retrieving information from the tapes, perhaps by tone-indexing the tapes, or by carefully cataloguing or labelling the tapes, and keeping a record of the main ideas of the lecture. Taking home tapes of lectures for transcribing at a later stage can be very time-consuming, and students who do this may benefit from advice from lecturers about whether this is likely to be a successful strategy for study.
"I found that with four hours of lectures in a day I could not for the life of me sit and play the tapes back."
Where lecturers regard one of the major benefits of lectures as being to direct students towards further resources and sources of information, there is a need to consider the accessibility of what students are being directed to. If students who normally use scanning and screen readers to access text are referred to a primary, handwritten, historical source, can the services of a reader be made available? If students are directed to short loan materials in the library, are there arrangements made for students who require longer access to these, perhaps for reformatting onto disk? If students of architecture are directed to look at a local place of architectural interest before the next lecture, can arrangements be made for videoing of the site where it would otherwise be inaccessible to a student who uses a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair?
The task of ensuring that all students, including disabled students, are able to benefit from what is provided before, during and after lectures, is doubtless challenging. This underlines the value of collecting and responding to student feedback. Did students get the information you intended? Were they inspired? Were they able to participate? The accessibility of the format in which you elicit and accept feedback needs to be considered. Some students are unable to access standard hard copies of text, and where feedback is sought on a web-site, the web-site needs to be appropriately constructed in order that students who use screen reading software can read it.
Perhaps the repeated reassurance to all students that the lecturer is available, at specified times, for further consultation about any problematic aspect of the lecture is the most effective way to make sure that no student's substantial disadvantage will escape notice.Next page
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