How not to be small in a large lecture hall- Guest Blogger, Louie Bottaro

August 30th, 2009

Louie Bottaro, CLA advisor mentors students

Louie Bottaro, CLA advisor mentors students

So this is my first foray at writing a blog under a predetermined topic for publication. I have been asked to write about the topic, “How to not be small in a large lecture hall.� Every summer I speak to hundreds of incoming students advising them of the ways of the world at OSU. Some students come from high schools where their graduating class was 8 or 17 or 43. The notion of sitting in a lecture hall of 300+ is extremely frightening. Not only is that number more than the people in their high school, in some cases it is more than the population of their hometown. Amazingly, though students survive this process and transition successfully if they listen to these pieces of advice…..

Tape recorders are so 20th Century. Some people would have you believe that you must buy a digital recorder to record the lecture and then rewrite your notes. Those people hold shares of stock in Radio Shack or Best Buy. The reality is that most students may record the lecture, (if they remember to bring it), but aren’t so likely to use it. What they need to do is…..

Print out notes from Blackboard. What is Blackboard you ask? You see a few years ago, former Vice-President Al Gore invented “The Internet�. And on this internet, OSU has a website, (I trust you know this know as you are currently reading from this site). Blackboard is an instrument where faculty members can share information with students, like course announcements, class notes and scores from exams and quizzes. So to adequately prepare for a lecture, you need to do these things….

1. Read the assigned chapters before class as stated in the syllabus (which according to Wikipedia is “an outline and summary of topics to be covered in a course�).
2. Take notes of the content covered in the assigned reading.
3. Print out lecture notes from Blackboard before class.
4. Add additional notes during lecture as professor adds specific emphases.
5. Review notes within 24 hours to reinforce what you have learned.

Now that seems like a lot of work for many of you, (this is certainly something that I never did), but it does work. In addition to adequately preparing for a class and taking notes here are some other things you need to do for success.

Speak with your professor before or after class. Visit them during their office hours if you have specific questions about the content covered. Professors are real people too; they have just become very knowledgeable about certain specific parts of their field. Find out what they are interested in and get to know something about it. This is called brown-nosing.

Things not to do in a large class (or any for that matter):

Bring food that distracts others by your noisy eating, smell, or other distracting element.
Check Facebook all class long.
Talk incessantly. No student paid to hear what you have to say.
Forget to shut your ringer off on your cell phone.

The last thing that is important regards where you sit in a lecture hall can have a positive effect on your performance in a class. There are many studies that show that students who sit in the front third of a class are going to earn better grades. Students that sit in the back get lower grades. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. If you are in the front of the class you are more likely to be engaged in the lecture, listening intently to the professor and the pearls of wisdom they are dropping on you. If you are in the back of a class, there are many more chances for distraction and spacing out. So during every START session when I speak to Liberal Arts majors, I challenge the Liberal Arts students to sit in the front of all classes and let the Business majors sit in the back. Then I compare it to a reverse mullet. Think about it.

Louie Bottaro is an academic adviser in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts. He is a ’99 CSSA grad from OSU and received a bachelors degree from Willamette University. He is a husband, father of two, and a member of the Student Media Committee. He is an unabashed Cubs fan and regularly heckles other NL Central teams at spring training. His golf game is better than his poker game but he’s improving on both.

10 responses to “How not to be small in a large lecture hall- Guest Blogger, Louie Bottaro”

  1. Mary says:

    Thanks, Louie, for some straight forward advice for success! Is Blackboard something I pay for when I pay my technology fees?

  2. Summer says:

    These are great pieces of advice… what’s this thing call the “internet?” you speak of Louie. Rumor on the street is that Louie is the coolest adviser in all of OSU….

  3. Erin says:

    Is THAT what you’re supposed to do? Dang Louie… why didn’t you tell me that? It’s a good thing they didn’t have facebook when I was at OSU.

  4. Pdf says:

    Please confirm application deadline for fall 2009. I am a California resident and interested in attending Oregon State for Pre-Vet.

  5. Melissa says:

    Thanks, Louie! I wish I had this advice when I was taking classes there. I’ll save the blog article for my 2 year old to read in 16 years.

  6. James says:

    @ Pdf:

    The deadline for fall 2009 has passed, unfortunately. If you are interested in winter 2010, spring 2010, summer 2010 or fall 2010…Applications are currently being accepted!


  7. Hahaha, I have to admit I’m sometimes guilty of checking facebook in my classes.

    Thank you for the tips though, I’ll have to apply these in my lecture hall time.


  8. Reg says:

    Good tips Louie. I’m always flabbergasted when I look around in class and see people playing solitaire or whatever. These classes cost thousands of dollars!! It’s like buying a Porsche and using to hang your laundry on it…oh well their loss I guess. Stick with the good ol’ notepad and pen:)

  9. Diesel says:

    I can certainly relate to the food issue. I cant stand it – specially if its before lunch and I’m hungry…. The combination of smell and the sound of mastication drives me crazy when I’m hungry and trying to pay attention to the teacher!

    Good article!

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