Is it even worth going to lecture if they don't teach you?

  • #1
Most of my lectures are horrible and not worth going to. They teach squat, don't do any examples on the board, and just emphasize points that I could find in 5 minutes in the book for 1 hour.

Is it even worth going to lectures if I have to sit down for 1-2 hours studying in order to solve problems that they didn't even cover in class?

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Well the short answer is if you paid for it or will pay for it via student loans then you should suffer through it. You may find some precious nuggets in what is said. You might learn how not to give a lecture. You might gain some measure of patience.

You can always do some problems while you're there and while half listening. You also might meet some nice students to commiserate with after class.

Bottom line is I'd go and see if I can find some way to overcome my boredom and learn something.

Who knows the skill may come in handy as you take a two hour commute to work on the train as so many do who work in NY City.
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Likes Kidiz
  • #3
Each person learns differently. Know yourself.

If the lectures are not helping you, then spend your time doing exactly what it is that helps you learn. I know lots of great students who never went to lecture, but instead spent that time in the library teaching themselves. The only caveat is that if you do not go to lecture, then you must make up for it by getting intimate with your textbooks.

In my experience, undergraduate courses are teach-yourself, or flush tuition down the drain. That being said, in third and fourth year, some jerk-off profs. know your name and crap on your grade if you're not smiling in class.

I tried a different strategy for different classes then compared my grades. Do what works for you.
  • #4
Don't go to lecture to make friends and talk. Work quietly on the problems you have. Don't distract others with your rudeness.

If all you're learning is patience you should drop out and spend your days watching paint dry.

You need to learn to teach yourself - fortunately or unfortunately. The best skill you will develop in undergraduate programs is the ability to teach yourself from a textbook.

I'm a teacher. M.S.Ed., Hons.B.Sc.
  • #5
Yes I agree with Tyro you need to learn to teach yourself and you need to be able to do it anywhere even in a boring lecture.
  • #6
Vanadium 50
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
if I have to sit down for 1-2 hours studying in order to solve problems that they didn't even cover in class?

I think you might want to adjust your expectations. You understand a topic when you can apply it to a situation you haven't seen before.
  • #7
Don't listen to the haters. We're all different. Keep your goals. "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead."

The only way to truly fail is to give up!

Do not worry if you don't/can't imagine every application of a concept because you heard someone fart it from their mouth. You learn by doing, by experience. No one learns by being passive and watching others do it.

Think about it! If you watch the "all-star" game in baseball are you now suddenly able to throw a baseball? Maybe. But you'll be much better by actually trying it yourself.

I know many friends who got in to fantastic professional schools after undergrad. school - and they did not attend lectures. We're all different. Find out how you learn best then maximize that method.
  • #8
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
This question comes up here from time to time.

For me, it's always seemed a little foreign, because in my experience, the lectures were almost always valuable. I had one or two classes that felt like the professor was more or less just reading the textbook too us, but in most cases it was easy to identify the value added by the lecturer.

How many questions are you asking in each class? Or immediately after the class when you don't have to ask in front of everyone.

I know it's not always possible, to be this prepared, but in an ideal situation, you should come to class with having done some pre-reading about the material that will be covered. If you can, prepare a few questions. There's a good chance the lecture will cover them, but if it doesn't, then ask them, so that you understand and stay engaged with the material.

If all of your classes are just lecturers regurgitating a textbook you may be better off spending that time reading and working yourself. But this means that you (a) need to have the discipline to do that, and (b) be confident enough that the subset of classes you have attended is a representative sample of the entire course. Often in lectures, professors will give hints about what material exams will focus on, tell you what information in the textbook is out of date, or give you real-world examples of how certain material works. I never had the confidence in my own abilities to turn my back on this kind of thing.
  • #9
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
Is it even worth going to lectures if I have to sit down for 1-2 hours studying in order to solve problems that they didn't even cover in class?

You have to keep in mind whether attendance at lectures could affect how leniently or sternly you are treated in situations - like trying to convince an instructor grade a homework higher. Even in big classes where no attendance is taken, lecturers notice the people that usually show up. If you are brilliant and are going to sail through all the homework and exams, then you can afford to skip lectures.

All learning is, to some extent, self-education. I don't know about your particular situation, but the following scenario is familiar. A student teaches himself by rewording all the material in terms familiar to him and replaces the concepts in the course with his own version of those concepts. For such a student, the only guide he has to the actual content of the course is "the answers in the back of the book". Those answers help keep the student in touch with "reality". Students that work this way don't get much from lectures because they don't accept the way the lecturer expresses things - or they think they already know the concepts and don't need instruction. If you are primarily a self-teacher, you probably won't break the habit and it's an adequate way to learn many topics. You just need to be aware of its limitations.

I,myself, always found lectures a physical challenge. Like most students, I was sleep deprived. It was hard to stay awake, even for a brilliant lecturer. I get sleepy after eating so afternoon lectures were very hard to appreciate.

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