Mate, I’m not being funny, but why are you asking questions at the end of a lecture?

Your search for brownie points impresses no one

Lectures can be a struggle, we all know that. You’re nearing the end a two-hour slog: you’re hot and sweaty, you’re tight for legroom and you’re suffering the worst hangover you’ve ever had – you need to get out, go to the toilet, get some food and get some fresh air. You’ve been stuck in this cramped prison with a lecturer droning on for what feels like a life time.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the lecturer let you out 10 minutes early? Yes, yes it would be. Think of all the things you could do that you need to do. But the dreaded part of the lectures come along, he asks if there are any questions – you really hope not.

But no, somewhere near the front of the lecture theatre, down in that teacher’s pet straight A collection of mature students, you’ll see a hand shoot up and a question is asked. “Sorry Derek, but could you just clarify what you meant on slide five, you know the bit towards the end you mentioned from your book? I missed my notes on that bit.”

Now come on. This did not require the attention of everyone in the room. These slides are uploaded to the portal anyway. But no, you went and asked a question specifically focussing on the topic that you know the lecturer specialises in – certainly a clever way to get a few brownie points under your belt. The worst part of this whole process, is that you can bet the person asking the question knows the answer and is just asking to express interest. The lecturer will then go on, and on, and on. You see the clock ticking. Those precious 10 minutes are dwindling, and your time to grab a panini to cure your never ending hunger pangs is almost over.

People asking questions at the end of lectures should really consider our discomfort, we are itching to leave, we are hungry and do not need this. If you’re temped to ask a question at the end of a lecture, here are a few things to think about before you do.

Our time is precious

I hate to say it, but nobody really cares about your question, or the answer as much as you do, and I can’t help but wonder myself, do you really care about the question? The last thing anybody wants or indeed needs at the end of a lecture is to sit through a conversation where they do not understand the question being asked, nor the answer given.

‘Why don’t I have questions?’

That’s one of the only questions I ask at the end of a lecture, and it is only to myself and gives me a crippling feeling of worry and self-doubt. Should I have questions? Am I thick? I only ever finding myself getting more confused when these questions are asked, or tend to assume I don’t understand and confuse myself just thinking about it. I don’t like that feeling.

Save showing off for the seminar

We get it, you are very smart and I don’t doubt the fact that you are on a first name basis with the lecturer (I am a bit jealous, to be fair), but it doesn’t mean you need to flaunt you academic ability at the end of EVERY lecture just by coming up with a question. It makes us feel very, very small.

This is what you drive us to

Credit where credit is due

You are extremely brave to put your hand up and ask a question, or put across an opinion in front of that many people and to an extremely smart academic. You are most probably very smart, or very driven by your subject that you do want to learn more and really get the most out of your time with lecturers. Asking questions at University is one of the best things you can be encouraged to do – it shows intelligence, rather than a lack of so don’t be afraid to go ahead and give it a try, although please not in a lecture with me, I’m starving and I’m about to wet myself.