Why attend classes (it’s more than just showing up)

Do you feel unmotivated to attend in-person lectures? Maybe you feel disengaged because you can review the slides on your own or watch the recorded lecture. Or maybe you’re not interested in engaging in class discussions or activities. 

If you’re having these feelings, here’s a reminder of some benefits of attending and participating during in-person classes:

Why attend class?

Get examples, hints and clues (that often end up on tests): 

Professors give examples during the lecture and use their tone and pace to emphasize them. While your instructor might record lectures for you, how they use tone and gesture to emphasize important points can easily be lost in recordings they stand out more in-person.

Stay focused on the right information   

A lecture is a place to listen and take away the key points, themes and important content. Attending your lectures allows you to take notes, actively listen and stay focused on the course material. Use the lecture as a time to focus on what you need to learn for future tests and exams. 

Keep up to date with course content

It can be difficult to stay on track when you're learning the content by yourself and outside of lectures. If you struggle with staying up to date on lecture slides and watching recorded lectures, attending and paying attention during your in-class lecture can help.  

Get easy grades

Attendance often counts towards your overall grade. In most courses, it's a free mark just for being present why not take advantage of this?

Why participate in class? 

Participating in lectures is just as important as attending in-person classes. Unlike attendance, participation requires active engagement with course content in class discussions or activities. How this looks differs in each course. 

Active learning  

Participating in class discussions is a form of active learning. Active learners learn best when they can speak through their ideas or do hands-on tasks to reinforce concepts they learn. But even if you’re not an active learner, taking part in discussions and activities in class can help you understand and remember the material better than reading it from the lecture notes or textbooks 

Receive clarity and improve your understanding  

Participating in class is more than providing answers. Asking and listening to questions can help you correct your thinking about complicated concepts and instructions. If you’re uncomfortable asking questions in class, just remember, your classmates likely have similar questions. 

Strengthen critical thinking skills 

Critical thinking means you process new information and make connections between concepts. Developing your critical thinking skills in class can help you prepare for writing research papers where you have to explain your methods, process and conclusions to problems. 

Practice your communication skills    

If you are someone who is uncomfortable with public speaking, participating in class or group discussions allows you to build and practice this skill regularly. It can also improve your verbal communication skills, which you'll use throughout your university and professional career.

Bonus: help your instructors get to know you 

You might be interested to know that attending AND participating in class are great ways for your instructors to get to know you better in an academic context. Developing this rapport with your instructor is important should you need a reference from them to get into a program, work in their lab, develop a research project for your program, or apply for scholarships.