An effective, clearly laid out reading list can enhance the student experience by:
1. TELL your students what you expect them to do!
If you want students to do the reading – TELL them in lectures, in seminars, in the unit handbook, on Moodle that you have a list and you expect them to read. Research suggests reading compliance is higher with weekly readings than the occasional. Make sure the items they need to read are clearly flagged with the appropriate level of importance (item to purchase, essential or further reading).
2. Annotate your list and tell the students how this resource will improve their life!
Students can’t tell whether one resource is more appropriate than another from a reference, so annotate your list and TELL them why Bob Smith’s book on presentation skills is so great, and how it’s crammed full of essential advice they’ll need for their assessed presentation. Think sales pitch.
3. Embed items in the course content of Moodle
Students are also busy people, so if you want them to read, embed the important sections of your reading list into Moodle. That half an hour they’re spending tracking down an article could be more usefully spent actually reading it! If you’re concerned about spoon-feeding, consider running seminar exercises on information literacy (your Subject Librarian can help!) and develop your students’ research skills more effectively.
Check out this short video to find out how you can embed weekly/thematic sections of a reading list directly within the content of a Moodle unit area.
4. Regularly update your list
If your list is full of out-of-date texts, you’re undermining your own expertise. Update your list taking into account usage (using the dashboard feature), feedback from library staff and students. Add links to new resources on Amazon or publisher’s websites to your list, make a ‘Note for Library’, and send your list for ‘Review’ so your Subject Librarian knows to order the stock.
Contact your Subject Librarian for details about library suppliers enabling you to search for up-to-date material.
5. Include a range of formats
Reading lists aren’t just for books, research indicates that students prefer articles or chapters to read, and if these are available online they’re more likely yet to get read. The Library suppliers have hundreds of thousands of ebooks available whilst the Library provides a digitisation service for those key chapters which aren’t published electronically.
However, you’re not limited to texts, take a look at Box of Broadcasts or LinkedIn Learning, for example, for content inspiration.
Representing diverse perspectives and authors in your reading list leads to a more inclusive learning experience for students. A minor change to your course materials could make a major change to the way a student, or a group of students, respond to the course.
Look at your list and use our reading list audit template and methodology to consider the diversity of resources represented. Does your reading list include a diverse range of perspectives and authors with equality across race, gender, sexuality, disability, internationalisation and socio-economic contexts within the discipline?
Talk to students to get feedback and even recommendations on reading list resources. Students at University of the Arts London created a resource wall of texts to 'Decolonise the Arts'. At Cambridge University students on the Human, Social, Political Sciences undergraduate programme have created decolonial reading lists for their course.
Encourage students to recommend books for the library via our Books Buy You service
Get in touch with your subject librarian to find out how we can help you find diverse material within our existing collections and from alternative publishers.
Find new publishers and authors in your discipline that include academics from diverse backgrounds.
Keep up-to-date with RSS feeds, saved searches and current awareness in your discipline.
Use RSS feeds; it will save you time and ensure you don’t miss any important updates to key resources or networks. There are many RSS feed readers you could use for this.
Consider the format of the resources on your list. Alternatives to print resources in accessible formats will accommodate varied learning needs, styles and environments.
Thanks to The University Of Reading and The University of Kent.