3.6 Reading lists

Reading lists

As of the start of the 2017/18 academic year, the University is no longer using EARL for new reading lists, but rather a different system simply known as “Reading Lists”. This new tool is owned and managed by the University Library and can be linked to on Yorkshare VLE module sites.

The University’s resource list policy, as approved by the University Library Committee, states that reading lists must be provided to the Library using this approved Reading List tool only.


Approaches to using Reading Lists

Key Concept: Students may not know how to approach using your reading lists

Students, particularly those in the first year, may not have come across reading lists before. The expectations of their value and how they should be used will also differ between teaching staff. In order that students understand how the reading list may support their learning on the module, the list should include guidance on how it is to be used. For example, flagging key readings related to face-to-face activities is a key approach to encouraging targeted use of reading lists. This is balanced by encouraging exploration of further readings through learning activities and assessments that value wider reading.

Digital texts

Reading Lists includes a facility to request digital copies of book chapters. This is recommended for key text provision where limited physical copies of books cannot meet the demand of large cohorts. There are limitations due to licensing restrictions, allowing only one chapter per book per module. As a result you may need to draw upon a wider range of books to have a key text digital chapter each week and confer with colleagues about your digital resource provision if you are team-teaching.

List structures

There are three main approaches to using Reading Lists:

  1. Complete reading list. The recommendation here is to break your module list down into themes that students can target when working on specific topics or on their assignment. Breaking the list down by themes also makes key readings for each theme stand out more.
  2. Key texts only. Links are provided to the key texts, ideally with digitised chapters or resources as appropriate.
  3. Library-use only. Reading List is not used by students, but is instead simply used to provide the Library with the information they need for book purchasing and indicative student demand.

Creative approaches to reading lists

Key Concept: Reading lists can be used creatively to support active learning

Reading lists also enable students to gain an insight into your practice as an academic. For instance, by including a one-line statement for selected items as to why they have been included on the resource list provides students with the justification and decision-making approach that you would hope they would develop themselves.

Reading lists can also be thought of as working documents. Whist the reading list system is not editable by students, they can produce print-friendly versions which could be saved as PDFs. Students could then annotate these PDFs with their own notes and reading logs. Beyond the Reading List tool, copying a reading list to a Google Doc and encouraging students to comment and advise other students on recommended reading creates a shared ownership of the reading list as a working document for that cohort.

Further creative approaches would be to include activities that require students to develop their own reading lists, with justifications as to why resources were included.

Developing your practice

Reading lists are one of the fundamental learning resources provided to support learning for a module. As such, the resource holds a lot of potential to support students’ transition from dependence to autonomy as scholars. The summary linked below explores the role of reading lists as resources and pedagogic approaches to harnessing their potential.

A presentation and workshop at the Higher York E-Learning Network Conference explored the role of reading lists, challenging the approaches commonly adopted.

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