Students with various impairments often express anxiety about using lectures in their learning. So do many other students.
In traditional lectures, if transmission of information is the aim, then how students receive that information will be important. First of all, they have to be able to receive it. Then they have to be able to record it in a way that is appropriate for them.
Some lecture theatres can be very crowded, with some students being accommodated in additional rooms using a television relay system. This raises questions about the appropriateness of the teaching accommodation and supporting technology for the intended aims of the lecturer, when class size, overcrowding and background noise are some of the difficulties which all students can face as they try to receive information.
Many department now provide a safety net for students unable to attend lectures in the form of lecture material presented on the department's web pages, or made available in the library. These alternative ways of enabling students to receive information can be as effective as lectures, where the purpose is to disseminate information.
While writing notes is not possible for some students with some impairments, writing notes might not be the most effective way for many students to derive maximum benefit from a lecture. Many students might benefit from study skills training in, for example, note-taking.
It can be very beneficial for students to go into the lecture tuned into the context of the lecture beforehand. Providing students with a framework for following the lecture, such as copies of overheads, (which could be available on the department's website) which the students are then able to annotate or supplement, is one way of doing this.
However students record information from lectures, they are likely to want to refer to them at a later stage. The distinction is sometimes made between taking notes and making notes. Some students may take notes in lectures, and make notes later, that is, actively process or work with, the notes they have taken. All students can benefit from advice about ways of making notes. Mind-mapping either with pen and paper, or with a computer, is found to be useful by many students, particularly those who prefer to organise material in a visual rather than textual way. Lecturers vary in what notes they expect students to take, and students who are exposed to many different lecturers are likely to be helped by individual lecturers about what they think students should do with the notes they have taken.