(This 2-part study tip has been provided by Dr. Richard Delaware. He is a professor in the math department and has been with the University since 1984. His knowledge on classroom etiquette is helpful no matter what your major may be. Next week, Dr. Delaware will share information on being a professional student outside of the classroom.)
Keep in mind that class time is precious. Don’t waste it. Always, always attend class. Attendance is highly correlated with good grades. Really! It’s also a hassle to find out what you missed. If you can, hit the bathroom before class, arrive a little early, never leave before class is finished, and see what is happening after class before you speed out of the door. We often discuss problems and offer help both before and after class in an informal manner that you might find very helpful in understanding formal concepts.
During class, please(!) turn your cell phone off. The sound of your cute and clever ring tone during a class is annoying and just rude, offending not only your instructor but everyone else in the class. One of our instructors made it a rule that if your phone rang, you had to bring the class cookies next time. They all ended up enjoying cookies at least once a week!
Sit towards the front. There’s less distraction from others, and you can see everything the instructor does. (Students say it helps with the illusion that the class is one-on-one with them.) The major piece of advice I have is to stay mentally active during class. Contribute to problem solving and discussions. Keep conversation with classmates to a minimum, and always on the subject of the class. Class is “live”, not video, meaning it is an active, not a passive environment. What happens between the instructor and the class is “value added” to the printed and other content materials. And, believe it or not, taking notes can keep you in the moment, especially in mathematics. Writing engages your body and mind in kinesthetic ways very different than listening does; and of course the more practice you have writing mathematics, the better you get at it.
Also, remember that in mathematics, and in college in general, you should not expect to understand everything immediately in a regular sequence of “Aha!” moments while you are sitting there in class. We expect you to learn much more content, and to understand it more deeply than you might have experienced in classes in your past. If you can grasp 75% of it at any given time while you are in class, then you are doing well. (OK, pick your own percentage. Maybe you only generate one “Aha!” on some days.) Don’t stress. You’ll fill in the other mathematical parts later as you continue to think and work through the material outside of class. Every student who has survived college knows this. And if you do have to miss a class, contact other students to learn what you missed and get copies of their notes, because their notes will accurately reflect what actually occurred in class. This is genuine student “networking”.
In the end, hang in there! Be persistent! Endure! Good students muddle through when the going is rough; weak students give up. Remember the grade at the END of the semester is what matters.
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