Effective Listening for Maximal Learning

Listening is one of the many ways we receive new information. Have you ever wondered how we take information from what we hear and make it new knowledge. This video presents how effective listening works, and ways to improve your class participation and retention of new information.

Slide 1: Welcome to TLC’s Effective Listening Online Workshop.

Slide 2: This workshop will examine characteristics of and challenges to effective listening, how to improve the pre-class and in-class experience, and basic tips for better listening.

Slide 3: Are hearing and listening the same thing? No. To the brain, there is a difference between hearing and listening. You can hear something without noticing the content of what was said. Listening activates the attention pathway as well, something very important to learning. In a study of monkeys, researchers found that listening to something only changed the monkeys’ brain when they were paying attention to what they heard. If they heard it and paid attention to something else, it didn’t change their brains.

Slide 4: Listening in college lectures is harder than it looks. In order to be an effective listener, you need to actively look for something of interest. Focus on content, not style. Listen for main ideas and organization, and maintain active posture.

Slide 5: In the listening process, there are things that interfere with, or get in the way of effective listening. We call these situational thoughts and actions, barriers or obstacles to listening. The barriers can be within ourselves or environmental. You need to be aware of, and manage distractions in order to be an effective listener.

Slide 6: In order to be a successful listener, you need to be physically and mentally prepared to pay attention. This means that you need to limit distractions and negative thoughts, prepare to listen, use positive mental dialog, and communicate with your instructor.

Slide 7: In order to overcome internal and external distractions, you need to work hard to focus your attention on what the speaker is saying. It is easier to stay focused if you arrive early to class and sit in front where there are fewer distractions. It is also helpful if you prepare for class by reviewing notes and reading information that parallels the class lecture. This provides you with the mental framework for the information that is to come.

Slide 8: You can also improve your focus by being aware of your mental dialog and changing it. Replacing your negative comments with more positive ones helps you to maintain interest and concentration. Also, think about what the speaker is saying and how it relates to you, and what you know about the topic. Lastly, if you do not understand something, ask the instructor. This lets the instructor know you are confused. Be specific about what you’re not sure of, so the instructor can clarify.