Handouts Identifying key Ideas in lectures Introduction In this tutorial, you will learn how to identify important points in lectures. Important ideas and their elaboration Very often, key ideas are delivered in lectures in the following pattern: lecturers tell the topic sentence in which the key idea is stated and then further elaborate and explain the idea. The elaboration can be explaining key terms mentioned in the idea, mentioning the “why”, “what”, “how” and “when” aspects concerning the idea, or quoting examples to illustrate. For example, the key idea and elaboration pattern can be found in the following extract: The starting point in planning any speech is to formulate a precise objective. This should take the form of a simple, concise statement of intent. For example, the purpose of your speech may be to obtain funds, to evaluate a proposal, or to motivate your team. No two objectives will be served equally well by the same presentation; and if you are not sure at the onset what you are trying to do, it is unlikely that your plan will achieve it. The bolded part of the extract is the key idea. The italic part is the first elaboration of the idea which is about the “how” aspect concerning formulation of objective. The underlined portion is the second elaboration of the idea giving examples of what are possible objectives. Aware of key ideas The key idea and elaboration pattern is the most commonly used method to deliver ideas in lectures. This pattern is repeated used in a lecture so that what you often hear is one important idea, some elaboration , then another important idea and elaboration. The question is how you can identify each of this key idea and elaboration slot. Handouts The trick is to be more alert to signals used by most lecturers to indicate key ideas. Key idea signals There are eight common ways lecturers use to signal key ideas: 1. Introduce a new topic:They explicitly say that they have arrived at a new topic. 2. Say words that express importance: They explicitly tell you that the following idea is important. 3. Define terms: They define some terms and you know the statement that express the relationships between these terms is key. 4. Mention stages or a list of steps: They express a sequence of important ideas in stages or in points. 5. Write sentence on blackboard: They write the idea on the blackboard. 6. Verbal or bodily stress: They speak slowly and louder or use exaggerated body movements to help you know the idea is important. 7. Illustrate idea with graphs or drawings: They use graphic or drawing to elaborate the idea. Restate or summarise: They restate, or summarise the idea fearing that you didn’t get it in the first place. Summary You have seen how key ideas are usually followed by elaboration. You have also learnt how lecturers usually signal to you which ideas are important.