A discussion with your classmates, tuning into the radio, and watching a film all require one skill: listening. But how often do we really comprehend every word our peers say during class? Current research shows that most of us only retain around 25-50% of what we hear.
Active listening is an important step in the learning process when you become a college student. It will help you retain more information, enhance your communication skills, and teach you how to have more productive debates.
If you’re planning to enroll in a liberal arts college, or you have already begun your studies, read on to find out what active listening is, and how it can make you a better student.
What is Active Listening?
Active listening refers not only to hearing words that are spoken, but also to truly comprehending the message behind the words. Some might think of it like reading poetry—you can see the words, but they have no real meaning until they are analyzed.
Oftentimes, active listening is blocked by nearby distractions, interruptions, or perhaps boredom. If you’d like to start practicing active listening in your liberal arts courses, here are a few tips that might help:
- Maintain eye contact
- Nod your head and smile
- Provide feedback on what the person is saying
- Mirror their facial expressions
- Lean slightly forward
- Ask for clarification of main points
- Reflect on the conversation
Read on to find out how these active listening skills can help you have a more meaningful and productive learning experience.
Active Listening Forms Questions
One way to ensure that you comprehend the main points of a discussion is to create questions based on what the speaker is saying. This can be particularly helpful in a great books college classroom, where round table discussions occur regularly and both analysis and debate are encouraged.
When a person is speaking, keep a notebook in front of you and jot down a few questions you have based on what they are saying. These questions will stimulate further dialogue and a greater understanding of the theories and ideas being taught.
Active Listening Fosters Dialogue
Students pursuing a liberal arts education are encouraged to express themselves, speak openly and listen carefully to others. Good communication skills will make students into better listeners, writers, speakers and academics. Active listening has been known to foster better dialogue by:
- Helping the listener understand the speaker’s point of view
- Reducing judgement and snap reactions to opinions or ideas
- Making the speaker and listener feel better about the conversation
By implementing active listening skills into your daily classroom discussions, everyone will benefit by learning more about the subject and each other, and engaging in much more fruitful conversations.
Are you interested in attending a liberal arts college in Chicago? Visit our website for more information or to speak with an advisor.