Lectures are an iconic part of university life, but many students chose not to attend them.
How essential are they, and are you missing out if you skip them? Are you paying for lectures or are you just paying "for the university name and a degree from them at the end" as TSR member indigo_blue suggests?
TSR students talked about why they don’t go to lectures. Here are their reasons along with some helpful advice at the end about how you can get more from your lecture learning.
Who needs lectures?
With pressure on obtaining at least a 2:1, students question how useful lectures are for making the grade. Some don’t feel that they’re getting any educational value from lectures whatsoever. SophieSmall says "[the idea that] lectures are good for learning [is] in my experience completely false".
Others feel that lectures aren’t the point. "The ultimate goal of university is being an independent learner not a punctual listener/notes writer," says Juichiro. They're not the only one - several others in the TSR discussion say they feel confident of doing well without attending their lectures.
But is studying independently of lectures the best way? University lecturer Chazwomaq says: "The job of a good lecture is to introduce key concepts and give some examples.
"Private study should flesh out that skeleton more fully. If you don't have the skeleton in the first place, this can be hard."
Lectures also provide a holistic experience beyond just achieving a grade. They prepare you for work, and teach you to take notes, concentrate for periods of time and ask insightful questions. "It's a mistake to think that the written assessment is the only thing you're getting out of university," says Wyrd14.
For others, it’s all about weighing up priorities. Perhaps time can be better spent focusing on essays and other assignments, "especially around deadline time," as rosee92 points out.
Felicity Smoak says, "I used to miss a lot of lectures but it was planned time out. It really does boil down to whether you make good use of that time elsewhere outside of lectures."
However, MagicNMedicine says, "The more you are exposed to the learning material, through reading and also listening to a lecture, the more it sinks in."
Internet killed the lecture hall star
"I don't remember the last time I turned up to a lecture, and I still managed 70% first and second year thanks to Blackboard," said CJKay.
Most universities have embraced the digital age, ensuring lecture slides and notes are available online. As home student Quantex asks: "Why commute two hours for a single 9am lecture when I can listen to the lecturer read out his PowerPoint from the comfort of my bed?"
Watching a lecture online is convenient, but lecture slides and notes aren't necessarily enough. "Our lecturers will expand on their points in great detail rather than write it all down on the slide," says Pierreboobvier. "Therefore I'd be screwed if I didn't bother."
You also can’t ask a video questions, and miss out on the valuable learning process of taking written notes.
There are other considerations to be taken into account. "A first or a 2:1 won't do you much good on a job application if your reference from the uni says that you only turn up when you feel like it, you're unreliable, you lack commitment and your timekeeping is poor," says Klix88. "The last entry-level job reference requested from me specifically asked me to comment on those aspects of the student in question."
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It all depends on the lecturer
It seems the quality of the lecture itself is the greatest motivation for attending. "I wish the people that teach us wouldn't make it so glaringly obvious that they don't want to be there," laments 3309will.
Uninspired teaching, monotonous content and poor delivery are all listed as reasons why students avoid certain lectures. "I show up to lectures and sit in despair as the lecturer reads off of the slides," says LukeyJB.
"There [is] just no point in getting up for 9am only to sit there falling asleep to listen to a bad lecture," says Heidigirl. After all, as NathanW18 says, "It's hard to learn anything when you're bored."
Should students just suck it up and go to their lectures, or is this something that lecturers also need to think about? "If multiple students aren't turning up, that's probably a clue that something isn't right," says NathanW18.
Most universities will give students the option to provide feedback at the end of the module, and although this is too late to benefit the students immediately it’s useful to show the university areas where it needs to improve.
So, what can you do to improve your lecture learning?
1) Accept that some material is dry. Not all modules are thrilling, but they’re still important for your understanding of the subject and you might miss some nuggets from not attending.
2) What do you think can be improved? Note this down and share it with your personal tutor. Ask them for guidance on how you can feed this back constructively so that things improve.
3) Prepare for your lectures beforehand if you know they’ll be difficult. This might help you follow the material that’s being covered.
4) Fill out feedback forms at the end of each year with suggestions to help future students.
Do you go to your lectures? What do you think about students who don’t attend lectures? Is it disrespectful, or is it their prerogative? Join the discussion on going (or not going) to university lectures.