Some teaching methods are more effective than others. Having grade 12 students copy down notes on the board during class isn’t as effective as having them take their own notes, for instance. 

Some study methods are better than others. Analyzing and writing about a poem is a more effective way to study that poem than memorizing it word for word. 

And some learning methods trump others. If you’re able to learn at your own pace at an online high school, you’ll likely excel more than you would if the teacher imposed a prefixed study schedule on you. 

In all three cases, the active method is better than the passive method. And the same is true for listening: when students listen actively, they absorb and process more information than when they listen actively. 

Active Listening

Everyone’s heard of the term active listening, but it may be more complicated than you think. What’s more, there are different kinds of active listening. 

The kind of active listening therapists practice is not the same kind of active listening students do, for instance. In a therapeutic context, active listening means a pattern that keeps you involved with your patient in a positive, trustworthy, and engaging way. Therapists, excluding some psychoanalysts who as a rule refrain from providing much, if any, feedback, are trained to reflect backwhat their patients say by paraphrasing or using the same words while withholding judgement. They are also taught to talk in moderation; therapists who talk too much are best left avoided.

The chief purpose of the kind of active listening therapists practice is to make their patients feel heard and understood. The kind of active listening they practice is meant to benefit both themselves and their patients. 

Active Listening for Students

The kind of active listening students practice is different, of course. For one, it’s meant to benefit them, not their teacher. Also, students aren’t meant to offer feedback on what their teacher is saying. Talking back, without being asked to, isn’t the best way to listen actively in class. Asking good questions, however, is another story. 

By practicing active listening in the classroom, students can turn what could be a passive experience into an active experience and, in this way, learn more than they would otherwise. 

2 Active Listening Techniques for Students

Good active listening techniques include the following

  1. Cutting out the distractions
  2. Coming to class prepared to listen

#1 Cutting Out Distractions 

No classroom is without distractions. Maybe the temperature is too hot, the wool sweater you’re wearing is itchy, or a student in the back of the classroom won’t stop tapping their foot. Listening actively requires you to focus on what matters and cut out what doesn’t, and that means cutting out the distractions. 

#2 Coming to Class Prepared 

A student who comes to class prepared to discuss the material is better able to listen actively than a student who comes unprepared. One of the best ways to prepare for a class is to go over your notes from the previous class or classes before arriving. Doing so will jog your memory and put you in the right mindset to absorb and process the material.