Lecturers all teach differently – here are some tips to help navigate your study when there is so much variation in how you are being taught.

Look at the learning outcomes for each module, these should tell you what you should be able to do, if you successfully complete all the work that is required (including lots of self-study and practice). Use these as your guide and test yourself against them from time to time!


Six Basic Types of Learning:

1. Acquisition

Learning through acquisition is learning through listening.

Example: listening to a lecture/podcast, reading from books/websites and watching demos/videos

2. Discussion

Learning through discussion requires the learner to articulate their ideas and questions, and to challenge and respond to the ideas and questions from their teacher and/or peers

Example: Attending online seminars, engaging in emails and/or discussion forums, and utalising webconfrencing tools

3. Investigation

Learning through investigation guides the learner to explore, compare and critique texts, documents and resources that reflect the concepts and ideas being taught

Example: Comparing texts, using digital tools for analysis

4. Collaboration

Learning through collaboration embraces discussion, practice and production, building on investigation and acquisition through taking part in the process of knowledge-building itself

Example: Group projects, through online forums and chats, to discuss others’ outputs, Building joint output

5. Practice

Learning through practice enables learners to adapt their actions to the task goal, and use the feedback to improve their future action (feedback may be through self-reflection, peers, teachers or the activity itself)

Example: Using models, simulations, virtual labs and field trips, online role play activities

6. Production

Learning through production is the way the teacher motivates the learner to consolidate what they have learnt by articulating their conceptual understanding and how they use it in practice

Example: Producing documents, representations of designs, models , animations, slideshows, blogs, e-portfolios, photos


Participation in class

Lecturers often try to make things as engaging as possible, and sometimes do this through discussion in class, polling, breakout groups and other activities. If these are being used in your classes, please try and engage with them as much as possible. It will help your learning, and the lecturer may have put a lot of thought into them.


There are techniques which are handy for taking good quality lecture notes which you might find helpful. Cornell Notes is a good system and you can learn more about it here.


Even if the main focus is on lecture presentations (or videos, or readings) what you can try to do is map out the ideas raised in the lecture, or summarise the key points and note anything that you feel you don't quite understand so that you can look it up, or ask for help in a tutorial or by contacting the lecturer.

Drawing up a mnd map can be a great revision-tool. Some students get really creative with these and use lots of colours and doodles - but even just jotting down the main points/words/equations and showing how they link with each other is effective.

These can be drawn on paper or digitally. MindGenius is a software package which is free to all NUI Galway students and staff. You can obtain it here.


Presentations are always nerve-wracking the first time, but a bit of practice can help. PowerPoint for the Web (the online version of Office 365 you access in your browser) has a tool called Presenter Coach. This gives you live and personallised feedback on a practice run through your presentation.