9 October 2021 landmark
The classroom culture at a Canadian university can be very different from what you might be accustomed to in India. First-year classes are often held in huge lecture theaters with more than 200 students. Graduate and upper-year seminars can only include up to 20 people in a little classroom.
One of the best pieces of advice for Indian students is preparing for the Canadian classroom, whether a tutorial, lab, seminar, or lecture, can help you in following along and contributing as necessary. Here are some ways in which the Canadian classroom culture is different from the Indian one:
Attending classes and taking notes is very important in a Canadian classroom
A lot of students prefer taking notes on their tablets and laptops in class, while many prefer using paper and pen. You will also find that your professor or lecturer will give PowerPoint slides to all students after or before the class.
These PowerPoint slides are very important in giving you a brief overview of the classes and help you in taking additional notes. These reflect generally on only a part of the content that needs to be reviewed on a given topic. Hence attending classes and taking notes becomes very important.
You can also find that some teachers will test you on the content that they have discussed in class instead of covering just what is exhibited on the slides. This is quite different from educational institutes in India.
Respecting your peers and lecturers is expected
In the Canadian classroom, everyone is expected to be treated with respect. This includes your guest speakers, teaching assistants, professors, and even other students. Ensure that you mute all your electronic devices before a class starts.
Refrain yourself from chatting during lectures. Avoid getting food that has a strong scent or is very noisy to eat during class. Ensure that you do your best to minimize any disturbances.
For example, if you want to leave class early, you shouldn’t disturb the lecturer and ask permission, you need to do so quietly without disturbing the other students. Refrain from using any electronic devices for other things than following the lecture or taking notes.
Participation is required actively in all classes
The Canadian classrooms encourage students to engage in class discussions and participate in ideas revolving around various course topics. In many courses, participation can also be a part of your final grade.
Indian students are advised to prepare, and review the lecture content beforehand, complete the pending assignments and assigned readings before the class. This will not only help you in participating actively but will also make you ready for the various kinds of questions that can be asked in assignments or on exams.
Assessments are not standardized across courses
Each class in Canada will generally be evaluated differently. A lot of courses can also have different assessments that take place throughout the term. Many courses might also only have just one midterm exam or only a final exam.
During each term, it’s important that you try to find alternative ways to review the coursework and keep testing yourself on all your course material. Many courses and their faculties may also offer specialized exam banks that include past little tests from previous years, and test questions.
Students are advised to complete these well in advance for practice. If the course you are taking does not offer students an exam bank, it is often a good option to join or even create a study group with other students taking the subject.
Approaching your academic advisor is important when struggling with courses
If you happen to find yourself struggling with some of your courses, it is crucial that you book an appointment with your academic advisor and your professor.
Academic advisors are appointed to discuss your academics and to support you in making your educational program better. You can discuss adding or dropping some courses with your academic advisor.
Your professor might be able to help you by giving you more clarity on the course work, sharing tips on how to study it particular to the subject, conducting general discussions about the course, and even tracking your progress throughout the course.
They can offer you friendly advice, support you through your struggle and even pinpoint your mistakes in assignments.
Every term, there are thousands of Indian students that go to Canada for their education. The cultural shock, being away from your family, and trying to keep up with the daunting coursework can be enough to overwhelm you.
However, preparing for surviving in a Canadian classroom culture beforehand can help you do better at academics. You should read the course framework and try to understand what the expectations of the course are. Indian students should aim to complete all assigned readings before lectures.