What are the main differences between studying at high school and studying at university?

Q1 : What are the main differences between studying at high school and studying at university?

Q2 : Name some approaches used at university. Q3 : How do you become an independent learner? Q4: what to expect in higher education?


Studying at university involves new ways of learning, Students are expected and encouraged to think critically about ideas and then discuss them with their peers and tutors unlike high school where the tutor’s role is to transmit information to the student who is expected to learn and then repeat what he has learned through assignments and examination.

I – Approches to Learning and Teaching

Students at university will experience a number of different approaches to learning and teaching, it includes: Lectures, seminars, group and team activities, tutorials, and independent research.

1) Lectures:

  • A lecture is a formal presentation conducted by your lecturer. Your lectures will normally be held in a lecture theatre (an amphitheatre) and last between one to three hours, the number of students in a lecture may vary between 30 and 350 students.
  • A large group of students listening to a lecturer giving a talk on a specific topic.
  • Lectures are used to provide an overview of a subject and to identify key themes and issues
  • Possibility of using audio-visual aids or providing handouts to identify key points.
  • A possible opportunity to ask questions.
  • Students are asked to take/make notes during a lecture.

2) Seminars:

  • A seminar, sometimes referred to as a conference, is a program where students are given information about a specific topic. Your seminar will generally be two to three hours in length. It is usually held for smaller groups of students(10 to 50) and frequently is held at a conference room.
  • Seminars focus on a particular topic and issue.
  • Students are asked to prepare for the seminar by:

a) Reading a particular article or book.

b) Working on a case study.

c) Making a short presentation to the group.

  • Students are given the opportunity to discuss and debate ideas with their tutor and peers.
  • The student will find it easier to become an active participant if he/she prepares for seminars by reading the relevant information sources.

3) Tutorials:

  • A tutorial is a class conducted by your tutor. Your tutorials will normally last between 1-2 hours and will typically be in a smaller group than your lecture, with classes of between 15 to 30 students.
  • Your tutorials will enable you to complete assigned activities, develop specific skills and discuss any problems you may have with the study topics. It is less formal than a lecture.
  • Most courses have one weekly tutorial.

4) Group and Team Activities:

  • the ability to work in team is an important skill that everyone needs for the learning process.
  • The team work allows the students to:

a) Know each other

b) Learn more about a topic (a particular one)

c) Develop their team working skills

  • The most important thing in team work is the organization:

a) Decide your way of communication

b) Decide your way of carrying out the task

  • When you face any problem within the group or the team of work and you cannot resolve it then talk with your tutor.

5) Online Learning :

Online learning is education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “elearning”. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” – the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.

As a student at Amar Thelidji University, you may be expected to take part in online activities for some modules. To facilitate the task our university provides access to its website http://elearning.lagh-univ.dz/login/index.php

6) Independent Research:

University studies involve independent study which is when you research and evaluate information from a wide range of sources.

II- Independent Learning:

“The ability to take charge of one’s learning” Holec(1981:3)

One of the key skills expected in a university is the ability to work independently. This is one of the big differences people often notice if they come straight to university from high school : instead of being constantly ‘spoon fed’ by teachers telling them exactly what to do, university students are expected to work on their own a lot more, setting their own goals, tracking down resources and taking responsibility for producing what they are asked to on time.

III- What is an independent learner?

  • independent learners take responsibility for their own learning.
  • They are self-motivated and accept that frustration in the present is worthwhile to achieve future success.
  • They are curious and they engage in what they’re learning.
  • Independent learners take initiative. They are good problem solvers but they also know when to seek help.
  • Independent learners think about and plan for the future. They are intentional with their study and choose the right methods to fit their course. They manage their time and are dedicated to self-improvement.

Ultimately, an independent learners understand that they are responsible for their own education. They take charge of their life and accept that no one will hound them to put more effort or time into their own achievements.


1) Discuss the meaning of independent learning and explain its boundaries

2) What Internet skills would be helpful in an online class?

3) Talk about your own experience regarding the difficulties you faced at university.

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