Students	  Online	  A.en/on	  and	  Reading	  lists	  (0015)	                                                             ...
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Student's Online Attention and Reading lists #altc2011

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Do students engage with academic reading lists? And if they do, in what format do they like their books - paper or e-books? After secondary education and strategies they have adopted to be successful at A level, many undergraduates fail to engage with non-assessed extension tasks when they transition to HE. A generation ago the sources of information available to students were comparatively few: lectures, journals and reading lists of carefully selected books. In some disciplines, literature has remained the focus of study, but in others, science in particular, online information has out-competed traditional sources. As the ubiquity of online interactions has increased with services such as Facebook and Twitter, important information becomes submerged in the chatter. Non-assessed reading to broaden knowledge does not compete effectively with just-in-time sources such as Wikipedia.
I surveyed 550 undergraduate students and discovered that only 30% claimed to have read any of the books on the reading list given to them. 25% claimed to have read an e-book in the previous year but only 5% of these used a specialized e-book reader such as a Kindle or iPad application.
*survey results in graphical form
To encourage students to engage with reading lists, I created a low cost interactive website with a familiar Amazon-style format allowing students to leave star ratings, reviews and recommendations (SciReadr.com). This low cost solution is based on WordPress and Google Forms. Working in partnership with the university library, student's union and a student society, I began a series of regular face to face student-led meetings in the format of a book discussion group to reinforce the online component of the project, held as casual twilight sessions in informal learning spaces in the students union.
Responses to the website indicate that the face to face element of the blended program is more important in driving engagement than the online element. The role of technology in driving engagement will be discussed.

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Student's Online Attention and Reading lists #altc2011

  1. 1. Students  Online  A.en/on  and  Reading  lists  (0015)   Alan  Cann,  School  of  Biological  Sciences,  University  of  Leicester  All  students  are  given  a  printed  reading  list  in   The  Solu/on?   The  Cult  of  the  Individual   the  first  week  of  term.    But:  Survey  Says:   Two  pronged  approach:   Some  students  sAll  read  books,  but  they  dont  feel   1.  SciReadr.com  –  Amazon  clone   the  need  to  aggregate  into  social  groups  to  share   2.  Face  to  face  book  group  meeAngs  in  a  social   their  feelings.    Instead,  the  literate  may  express   seCng  (with  beer  or  coffee)   themselves  as  individuals.    Facebook  is  the  new  de   facto  social  but  it  breaks  larger  units.    The  losers  are   clubs  and  socieAes,  and  insAtuAons.     DisintermediaAon  breaks  the  social  raAonale  for   these  groupings.    Students  study  as  individuals,   socialize  with  their  Facebook  friends.    They  have  no   need  for  socieAes.    Social  networks  are  not  the   cause,  merely  a  reflecAon  of  change.    Where  are  we   going  with  these  technologies?    Is  it  fuAle  to  work   against  them,  should  we  culAvate  the  zeitgeist?     What  does  this  mean  for  educaAon?    How  do  we   influence  student  behavior,  give  them  the  reading   habit  if  they  dont  arrive  in  H.E.  with  it?     Where  next?    Assessment  required?     The  Great  Book  Vote:   •  Go  to  SciReadr.com  and  pick  one  of  the  books   Students  Said:   listed.  •   I  was  not  made  aware  the  reading  list  existed   •  Read  the  book  you  have  chosen.    un3l  the  end  of  my  first  year.  I  think  if  would  be   •  Write  a  review  of  the  book  you  have  read  and  good  to  make  this  list  known  to  freshers  when  they  first  arrive  at  university.     add  it  as  to  the  appropriate  page  on  SciReadr.  •   I  was  not  aware  of  the  existence  of  a  reading  list.        Marks  will  be  awarded  for:  •   Unless  the  School  reading  list  happens  to  have   •  Quality  of  wriAng  (including  spelling,  grammar)  journals  specific  to  each  module  and  assessment  I   •  Clarity  of  expression  personally  do  not  see  the  use  in  it.     Did  it  work?      “Too  busy”  for  book  group  •   I  can  only  vaguely  remember  receiving  this  list.  I   •  Detailed  knowledge  of  the  book  you  have  remember  having  read  some  books  on  the  list,  by   reviewed  (demonstrated  by  the  content  of  your  coincidence.     review,  specific  quotaAons  to  support  your  •   I  have  never  been  provided  with  a  reading  list   argument)  and  wasnt  even  aware  of  where  to  find  it.    •   It  contains  pointless  books  &  are  a  waste  of  3me.     •  Persuasiveness  -­‐  does  your  review  persuade  •   I  was  told  not  to  worry  about  it.     other  people  to  vote  for  your  chosen  book  (or  •   Is  it  actually  essen3al?    I  was  given  a  reading  list   not,  if  you  thought  it  wasnt  very  good)?  when  I  started  my  first  year  back  in  2008.    Didnt  read  anything  from  it.    Also,  didnt  need  to.  

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