Following on from our recent student research project, we learned the types of things that students would like to see in reading lists to make them less overwhelming and easier to study. You can hear more on our student research project with Samantha Sharman, Classical Studies BA student from the University of Lincoln in our webinar Students perspectives on reading lists here.
Top five tips
Based on these findings, the top 5 tips are:
1. Introduce the reading list at the start of the term
Provide guidance to students on how to access the list and even perhaps some of the features of the reading list to allow them to use the features to support their independent study time.
2. Structure your reading list
You can add structure to your list by putting it into sections for: themes, weeks, assignments or topic titles. Adding sections in your list makes it easier for students to navigate the list and you can also link out to sections from your VLE/LMS.
Academics are able to add notes to sections or specific resources to give guidance to students. For example: Why is this resource useful? What themes would you like students to consider when looking at these resources? Importance labels can also be added to items (e.g. Essential/Core/Recommended/Further) to allow further filtering of the list and aid students in prioritising their reading. Additional tagging other than 'Essential' was seen as a benefit in the student feedback.
4. Review content regularly
Outdated resources can devalue the student experience and therefore engagement. You can add bookmarks to add to a list at a later date. If you find useful resources on the web, consider the importance labels given to these resources and whether newer editions or new research has been released to guide students towards. Considering the time taken for all of the essential items, could this be updated?
5. Diverse opinions, perspectives and authors
By providing a range of authors and opinions, students are able to underpin their knowledge across a cross-section of materials. If resources published by their own academics are shared, they need to be embedded and fully introduced to avoid any negative connotations.