Rose, H. and Siddall, G. (2012) Reading lists - time for a reality check? Invited Presentation presented to: Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC 2012), Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, 11-13 April 2012. [Also presented at: Research Active, Library and Learning Services Conference, The University of Northampton, 19 June 2012]
Reading lists are a ubiquitous part of Higher Education (H.E.); every course has one, tutors are required to provide them, students expect to have them. There are clear expectations that reading lists exist in H.E., but beyond that, what is the value of reading lists and how are they REALLY being used? This practitioner research was designed to explore the reality of reading list use with academic staff and Foundation Degree (FD) students in Health and Education. As Academic Librarians we became aware that FD students have difficulty using the course reading lists. Students either read everything or nothing and they find it difficult to distinguish which texts are most appropriate for their level and skills. This can lead to feelings of uncertainty and frustration (Martin and Stokes, 2006), which we suspected might have an impact on the students’ learning and their use of information resources. It was apparent that the existing reading lists were not meeting all of the students’ needs. In 2011 we were awarded the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) Research Award to fund our research into reading lists. This project involved working with tutors to develop enhanced reading lists to actively scaffold students’ information skills development. We conducted focus groups with students and interviews with academic staff to explore their expectations and experiences of reading lists. This short paper will report our findings so far and focus on the impact of reading lists on the student experience. We will generate discussion around the relevance and value of reading lists for information skills development, including views on the use and expectation of reading lists and on how we can promote more active engagement with reading lists by all stakeholders in the future.