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College Resource Center : Accounting : General Study Aids : Active Listening Strategies

Active Listening Strategies

Decide to Pay Attention

You need to decide to listen. This is an active choice that only you can make. You will find it easier to pay attention when you are familiar with the subject matter and in tune with the instructor's purpose. In order for you to benefit from the lecture, you need to know something about the content that will be covered. Reviewing past notes and keeping up with reading assignments will give you a focused mindset. You will already have questions in mind and you will be anticipating the purpose of the instructor's lesson if you are prepared.

Listen for Key Ideas and Important Phrases

Instructors tend to repeat important information. Be on the alert for repetitions or phrases such as "the importance of," "the implications are," "in summary," "key factors in," and "the definition is." Another way to tell what the instructor thinks is important is by watching for changes in tone of voice and degree of enthusiasm. If you detect passion or strong emphasis, listen carefully. Your instructor is giving you clues about what he or she believes is important.

Take Notes

  • Use a separate notebook for each class. Put your name and telephone number in each book.
  • Write the date and subject before each entry.
  • Jot down key concepts, main ideas, and major principles.
  • Write in phrases by skipping connecting words like and, but, a, and the.
  • Write clearly and neatly.
  • Write on only the front side of the pages. When reviewing the notes, use the back side for posing study/review questions about the material on the front of the page.
  • Leave white space for adding comments. You might want to clarify points in your notes after class is over.
  • Write more rather than less.
  • Indent when noting supporting data under main ideas or topics.

Listen to the Very End

Pay attention until the class is over. The last few minutes may be the most important part of the class. This is often when the instructor summarizes what has been presented in class. Focus on the instructor's parting words and listen for summary statements, information about the next class session, new assignments, or changes in due dates. Make sure you write down this information, even when you think it is something you are unlikely to forget.

Source: Adapted from College Success by Roberta Moore and Barbara Baker.

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