When you first get your university timetable, you will see lots of allocations for lectures, seminars and tutorials. If you are taking a practical based subject like science, you should expect to see scheduled workshops and practicals as well. However, these aren’t the only type of academic activities you will do at university. Many Learning Hubs will offer more informal approaches to teaching and drop-in sessions are a common way to do so.
Drop-in sessions are sessions that students can attend without any bookings to either receive support from their teachers or to learn a different range of skills. Drop-in sessions are not limited to students and many universities offer sessions which can be attended by the general public as they do not require any advance booking. However, they usually only occur during term-time when students are present on campus to aid during the sessions.
The above summarises what a drop-in session is but to find out whether these are mandatory or not or if it useful to attend one, I recommend you read on.
What is meant by a drop-in session?
Drop-in sessions do not have teaching purposes and instead usually incorporates a question-and-answer style session. Whilst they can help reinforce your understanding of topics you have been taught in class, they will not teach new concepts.
Drop-in sessions at university can be separated into two categories. These are open drop-in sessions and module specific sessions.
Module specific sessions are usually hosted by specific departments or even specific teachers. Module specific sessions are typically only for students studying in the same department or same course.
You will most likely have time on your schedule allocated for this. Depending on your course, you may need to drop-in for the whole allocated time or just drop-in at some point during the time.
These drop-in sessions could be used for you to ask your advisor course-related questions, or to practice specific skills that you might not enough have time to practise during other lessons.
On the other hand, open sessions can be attended by the public and will answer their queries. Many open sessions will be aimed towards prospective university students.
Open sessions are also aimed at current university students to encourage them to explore other departments. It is common for many language departments will offer a drop-in session to speak about the language courses offered to students who study other courses.
For example, you can check out the drop-in sessions offered by the University of Leicester here.
Are drop-in sessions useful at university?
Drop-in sessions can be optional or compulsory, but they are more commonly optional. You can find out more about the mandatory classes at university on here by Think Student. During some drop-in sessions, you may not need to talk to your teachers.
If you would like to carry out independent study or research, some departments will let you do so as long as you sign on the attendance register.
There may usually be a member of staff you can speak to about any equipment you may want to use, or to help you set up your research.
This is especially beneficial for students who are in their last year and carrying out their own research projects and would like support.
Whilst drop-in sessions do not require a booking, you can choose to book an allocated one-on-one time with an advisor. This will give you the opportunity to identify improvement strategies specific to you, and tailored feedback for your work.
You may feel more comfortable speaking with a teacher alone than with your peers at a seminar.
What is a university tutorial?
Tutorials can be referred to as seminars and like drop-in sessions they are more informal in nature. Unlike drop-in sessions, tutorials are almost always compulsory to attend.
The main purpose of a tutorial is for students to engage more with the subject content and each other compared to how they would during a lecture.
Tutorials commonly consist of group discussions about the lecture topic or given reading material. These group discussions develop analytical thinking by hearing other perspectives.
It is not uncommon for these discussions to be graded and counting towards your overall mark.
Tutorials can often include formative assessments. This refers to activities which will not directly affect your final module mark, but will be important to help you develop skills you will eventually require.
Summary assessments are the ones that count towards your final module mark.
To learn how seminars compare to lectures and workshops, check out this article by Think Student.