About lectures, tutorials & podcasts

Key words: lecture, podcast, notetaking, transition signals

Studying at university generally involves attending lectures and tutorials; or, in the case of external students, listening to podcasts of lectures. This workshop will help you understand about lectures, podcasts and tutorials.

About lectures, podcasts and tutorials

Almost all university courses involve attending lectures and tutorials. The majority of lectures consist largely of listening to presentations from which you will have to make notes. For distance students, this will most likely occur at residential schools, or it might involve listening to and making notes from podcasts of lectures.

Lecture and tutorial styles differ between courses, units and between lecturers. However, you can generally expect to find some of the features noted below.

Lectures, podcasts, tutorials

  Lectures Podcasts Tutorials
How delivered Face to face Recording of lecture Face to face
How many Set of lectures for each unit As for lectures Generally weekly

Give overview of topic

Provide handouts, powerpoint presentations, etc.

Students listen and take notes

Lecturer answers questions

Give overview of topic

Students listen when, where they choose – and take notes

Students can pause, stop, replay, etc.

Lecturer gives feedback on your work; discusses general progress

Lecture content is applied

Students ask questions/ lecturers may pose questions

Size 50-300 people Unlimited – most external students will have access to lecture podcasts Small groups
Length 1-3 hours 1-3 hours Generally 1 hour
Frequency Generally at least 2 per week for each unit As for lectures Generally 1 per week for each unit
Lecturer assistance No individual attention No individual attention Lecturer is there to help: assist with problems; pose questions; encourage discussion
Student participation Some lecturers encourage questions; others do not No opportunity to ask questions – use online discussion board for this May be only time lecturer is available. So, prepare questions in advance.

Who are you?

Exercise 1: WHO are you?

Hover over the questions to see the answers.

Lectures aren't compulsory, so I don't bother going - I just read the course notes up on the web.

For students on campus, attending lectures is one way that the lecturers can convey the most important content of a unit. Lecturers will use lecture time to highlight important information about the subject, about the topic and often about your assignments and exams. So, it’s not a smart idea to miss them!

Tutorials are just for students doing experiments like in the sciences, aren't they?

Tutorials do vary a lot between courses and units; however, most units will have tutorials. Tutorials are a valuable learning tool in that there is more student participation than in lectures. You can ask questions, participate in group work and listen to other people’s opinions. Some tutorials are compulsory and your attendance counts towards your final mark.

I'm an external student so I really miss not being able to sit in a lecture and hear what the lecturer has to say.

UNE students studying at a distance often have access to podcasts of lectures. These are recordings of lectures – so you get to hear what students sitting in the lecture hall are hearing. In addition, you can play the podcast when and where you choose; you can pause, stop and replay. However, you still need to listen carefully and take notes. Students on campus who have access to podcasts of their lectures should take advantage of both the face-to-face lecture and the podcast.

Why go to lectures?

There are a few good reasons for you to go to lectures:

Click on the check box for more information.

A lot of important information is given at lectures.
Often, supporting detail and materials are made available at lectures.
You can observe the lecturer's body language.
There may be opportunities for you to ask questions.

What about podcasts?

Podcasts are generally recordings of actual lectures that you can download and listen to. Many external students at UNE have access to podcasts of lectures. You will find more information about podcasts and strategies for listening to them in the Strategies for listening and notetaking workshop on this site.

What about tutorials?

Tutorials are a valuable learning experience. You need to get the most out of them.

Exercise 2: About tutorials

Click the questions below to find an answer:

What is a tutorial?

A tutorial:

  • is less formal than a lecture
  • is more personalised than a lecture
  • has a limited number of students (15-20 students)
  • allows for interaction between lecturer/tutor and students
  • gives an opportunity to listen and learn from others, to respond, to express your own ideas, to receive feedback
  • is sometimes compulsory – your attendance may contribute to your final mark.
How should I prepare for a tutorial?
  • Read the assigned readings and take notes. Be sure to provide reference details (author, date, page) in your notes.
  • If a number of references are provided, don’t try to read everything – scan texts for the most relevant points for the tutorial.
  • Think about the readings, consider your points of view and be prepared to discuss these.
  • Prepare any questions to ask about the topic.
  • Complete set exercises/tasks.
  • Add any new words to your vocabulary list – their correct spelling, their meanings and an example of their usage.
How do I get the most out of tutorials?
  • Contribute your own ideas and points of view.
  • Listen and take notes – you will probably be exposed to a range of views which may help your understanding.
  • Be sensitive to others in the tutorial: listen respectfully; give constructive feedback; encourage participation from all.

What if I miss a lecture or tutorial?

If you can’t attend a lecture or tutorial you can:

  • Check if there is a podcast of the lecture that you can listen to.
  • Check online for lecture notes and/or powerpoint presentations; or ask your lecturer for a copy.
  • See if the lecture/tutorial is repeated at another time.
  • Borrow notes from one of your classmates.
  • Ask a classmate to collect copies of handouts, tasks etc.
  • Do any problems or questions that have been set for the tutorial, then check your answers with a classmate or your lecturer.
  • Note: if you make a habit of missing lectures/tutorials, do NOT expect extra help from classmates or lecturers.