November 10, 2005

Reading lists: Analysis result 1

Sorry about the dull title, but it's late in the day and my creative juices have long since evaporated and dried up.

Working on the analysis of the reading lists and I appear to have my first result of the project! And what a shock it is (not) – from my sample it appears that reading lists as presented to students do not on the whole recommend books for purchase. The modal value for both the undergraduate and postgraduate sets in the analysis is No purchases suggested (92.3% of U/g depts courses, and 95.7% of P/g dept courses).

Of course we were only able to sample just over 40% of reading lists, but all the same it's the first food for thought. Though 5 months of effort to reach this somewhat unsurprising conclusion does seem a bit much!


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  1. Hi Gareth,

    Does all of your analysis mean that all reading lists are now in a nice database that could possibly be used by other systems?

    I wonder if we could have a website with all the reading lists and have it know what modules/courses a students does (already possible) and provide links to the library/bookshop and allow reading and writing of reviews in blogs? Just a blue-sky idea.

    10 Nov 2005, 16:58

  2. Hahahahah – erm no it doesn't, that wasn't the purpose of the project (and would have driven me even more insane than the actuallity). What I've got is data on the formulation, language used, scope of contents and costs/levels of books for student purchase. A reading list management software solution might be useful, but I think having done this exercise more than ever I'm aware of the varience between departments – not to mention certain lists that virtually defy the term "list"

    Not such a blue sky idea, and a lot of other places (Loughborough comes to mind) have one in place. I think the problem is that the product defines the list and academics aren't keen on that. But if we had something bespoke…

    On the otherhand as we're entering into a two year evaluation of the current LMS it could be that a RL module for the current (or subsequent system if we ever decide to change) could be something we look at in 2006/7 all the more seriously.

    11 Nov 2005, 08:13

  3. That's a shame. I suspected that might be the case. What do you mean by:

    I think the problem is that the product defines the list and academics aren't keen on that. But if we had something bespoke

    Do you mean that the academics don't actually get to choose their own books for their lists?

    I think we talked about the reading list stuff a while back in E-Lab and it was just decided that it wouldn't be worth the pain for some reason…I can't quite remember what happened about it.

    11 Nov 2005, 08:53

  4. Oh by that I mean academics like a style that is wild, free and oh so varied. A reading list isn't (unfortunatly) just a list of books, for many it's an integral part of a module book and to seperate the two would deny it the functionality they want to give it. And lets not get started on when reading lists are received, who'd add them to such a system, what happens when they're out of date… :)

    On the other hand if at the end of this project I can define a model(s) reading list across all depts, maybe there will be more grist for the mill in saying "Actually reading lists are all defined as X at their core, and we could encode and electronicify (tm) their core materials". But that's something that would need a policy decision from my overlords – and as John's articulated in the past when we've mentioned it, not something he believes in as important.

    11 Nov 2005, 09:02

  5. I suspected it would be something along those lines. I have no doubt the getting every academic across Warwick to do anything consistently is a huge nightmare.

    Hopefully your analysis might give the powers that be the proof that they need to be able to insist on a central reading list system…but I'm not holding my breath.

    11 Nov 2005, 11:33

  6. I think the watch word(s) at Warwick is "strength through diversity".

    As you say we'll have evidence of all sorts, but whether we can/will act on it is a whole other kettle of kippers…

    11 Nov 2005, 12:02


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