Your Basic Four
1 Read the Text; Think
Read the text or at the very least skim it BEFORE CLASS. This allows you to review material you might already know. You will also have an idea about what material is coming. You will know what information is in the book - and you won't have to write it all down in class. You may even be able to generate a few questions. You can pay special attention to any unclear parts during lecture.
2 Attend Lecture; Listen; Think
It is a well know fact that the people that struggle the most with this course are the ones that show up at lecture the least. Inverse correlation. Think about it.
Occasionally during class, I will ask you to pull out a piece of paper and write down a mechanism or work a problem or something. I will then collect your creations. These will not be graded, so relax. What good are they, you ask?? They allow me to take attendance rather easily. They allow me to see whether you've read the assignment for the day, where you are with the material, what's confusing and what you've got a handle on.
3 Take Notes; Think
Listen in lecture and take notes. Note that I put LISTENING first and note taking second! If you have skimmed the text, you will know what material appears in the book, such as which mechanisms are drawn out etc. That way, you have to write less. Make a note about things you did not understand then ask about it, either during class, after class, or later in my office.
Too many people develop the bad habit of trying to write down everything the professor says/writes/shows during class. This would not be bad in itself, except that many folks turn OFF their brains while doing it. They do not attempt to understand what they are writing. Then, when they attempt to use those notes later in working problems and stuyding, they have no idea what the notes mean. Solution: think more, write less, use the textbook as a backup.
Your lecture notes should not be a simple rote copying of whatever appears from my mouth or from my pen or piece of chalk. Your notes allow you to begin to process, organize, highlight, and identify concepts in a way that is useful TO YOU. Some students have found it helpful to bring ink pens of different colors to class so that they can organize the notes by color as they go. You may discover another method that works for you.
4 Work Problems; Think
Work problems, do them many times. Work lots of problems. Do the ones assigned until you understand them. Then do them again. Do the ones that weren't assigned. Generate lots of paper for the recycle bins. Problems ask you to use the material in ways other that the text or lecture can do. Problems give you the opportunity to discover which concepts and ideas are clear and unclear. Problems can be fun.
Study by working the problems, NOT only by reading your notes and the text. Your best measure of your facility with the material is whether you can work problems.
NAVIN C JOSHI
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