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Getting started at TasTAFE: Classes

Classes - prepare for class

Preparing for class

It is always a good idea to prepare for your class by identifying how this class relates to your course. You can do this by reading your subject and course outline to find out:

  • What are the assessment tasks?
  • Is there a reading list?
  • Does this class follow on from a previous class?

Classes - contribute to class

Contributing to class

Joining in class discussions and debates can help you improve your grasp and understanding of a subject. The opportunity helps you:

  • Apply knowledge from your classes, reading and research.
  • Solve problems in a team and maximise creativity.
  • Test your understanding and develop new insights.
  • Learn from other people.
  • Clarify concepts you may not understand

 

Small group discussions can help you develop essential life skills, including:

  • Practice expressing yourself.
  • Practice and develop group skills by listening to and supporting others.
  • Prepare and deliver verbal presentations.
     

    Conference table

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image from Commoncraftt

You will get more benefit out of class discussions if you are prepared. Prepare for a class discussion by:

  • Identifying the main issues to be discussed.
  • Do background reading and research, and take notes as you read.
  • Make a list of points that you’d like to make or problems to solve.
  • Keep an open mind.

 

The key to a successful discussion is for everyone to be engaged. A questioning approach opens your mind and creates fertile ground for discussion and debate.

It is also important to listen carefully. By listening carefully you will form a better understanding of what is expected. Your ability to listen will improve with experience.

Taking notes

Commoncraft

[The text above is based on that from the University of Leicester]

Classes - group discussions

Group & Class Discussions

Some students struggle to join in class discussions, they worry that they may get something ‘wrong’ or that everyone else has the ‘right’ answer. This is rarely the case.

To overcome nerves and anxiety, it is worth remembering:

  • Don’t wait until the discussion reaches its peak before you join in. Say something simple and often to help build the discussion.
  • Don’t dominate the group or leave others to do all the talking.
  • Be positive and respectful of other people’s ideas.

Strategies to develop your contribution to group discussions:

  • Show you are a good listener by paying close attention to what is being said.
  • Acknowledge other people’s contributions by saying ‘yes’ or nodding your head.
  • Agree with a point someone has made by saying ‘that’s a good idea’ or ‘I hadn’t thought of that’.
  • Comment on the discussion and show you’re aware of what’s going on by playing an active role. You can keep the discussion on track by saying ‘haven’t we moved away from the point that Jane was making about…?’
  • Present an alternate point of view in a constructive way by saying ‘but doesn’t that contradict with…?’
  • Try to make new points and lead the discussion to new ground by saying ‘I think we need to look more closely at
  • Use a simple opening statement if it is difficult to break into a flowing discussion eg ‘I think…’ or ‘I disagree…’ or ‘that’s a good point but…’ or ‘can I say that….’ or ‘hold on. Haven’t we forgotten…’
  • Take brief notes to keep track of the discussion and questions you have.

[The text above is based on that from the University of Leicester]

Classes - Conflict

Conflict

Sometimes discussions can become lively and lead to strong disagreement between group members. Class discussions should remain objective and impersonal – ideas should be challenged, but never people. 

If you feel your anger levels rising, take a deep breath and stop talking for a while.

If others are getting angry you might be able to draw attention away from the disagreement by saying ‘we appear to be saying the same thing here…’ or ‘that’s a good point but we are off track…’

[The text above is based on that from the University of Leicester]

Classes - Follow Up On Your Classes

 Following up on your classes

  • Don’t be afraid to ask a teacher to clarify information after a class.
  • If you can’t keep up during a class, leave gaps in your notes and talk to your teacher afterwards.
  • If you can’t talk to your teacher immediately, write down your questions and concerns so you can contact them later.
  • Read your notes later and highlight important points, add further information or points, correct mistakes and add questions you may have.

Stay the course - Just ask

Asking questions is an important part of learning, it helps you understand and clarify the information or task you recieved. So take the plunge, ask the question - you'll be doing yourself a favour!