Whilst pondering on what to write my blog on this week, I realised that along with all the exciting changes that occur when you first start University, the way you are taught and the way you learn also changes a lot.
Until you come to University most people are taught in a classroom of about 25-30 pupils where the teacher sets and guides you through tasks, is available for questions and to keep you on task. You also see each subject teacher almost every day and are in school all day (apart from a few free periods in sixth form).
It’s all very different at University. If you study English at Leicester you will do three modules a term. Each module will be taught through seminars and lectures.
So what’s the difference between a seminar and a lecture?
- A seminar is a small interactive class of about 10-15 students which is lead by a tutor. You will normally have to read a play/novel/poetry volume each week which you will then discuss in the seminar. Seminars are usually quite informal.
- A lecture is where everyone on the course (about 250 for English I think) all sit in a lecture theatre and listen to a tutor talk about a topic. Learning through lectures takes a bit of getting used to as you have process someone talking at you for an hour which is very different to a classroom situation. Everyone develops there own way of taking notes and you become very good at speed writing!
For each module you will have 1 seminar a week and 1 or 2 lectures. As I’m sure you’re working out, that doesn’t add up to many taught hours! I’ve never had more than 10 hours a week. So this means you have to learn to use your free time wisely and sensibly. At first its very tempting to use all that free to have lie-ins and naps – and we’ve all used it for that at one time or another! But you quickly learn that at least some of that new found freedom needs to be put to good use. In fact, now I’m nearly at the end of my final year I spend almost all of my free hours in the library. But the workload builds up gradually so you won’t be as boring as me for a while yet!
The change in teaching style at University encourages independent thinking and learning. You are given the freedom to look at topics in a way that you find interesting and to explore your ideas in less structured way than school. For me, I’ve found it an amazing learning curve which has massively increased my love of English.