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Scaffolding or spoon-feeding?

1st February 2016

Scaffolding or spoon-feeding?

The pedagogy of resource lists

The pedagogy of resource lists

Resource lists have proved very popular with University of Worcester students since they were introduced last semester. So what is it that students like so much about them? Well, to be honest, for students particularly, what’s not to like! Here are a few benefits:

  • The resource list is freely available online.
  • Lists provide direct links to online resources, including journal articles, ebooks, digitised chapters, journals, databases, websites and videos.
  • If there are books on the list that are printed books the list shows where they are held in the Library and if copies are available.
  • Users can personalise their module resource list by signing in and adding their own reading intentions and notes.

Here’s a example of a list that has been very well used by students and is one of our current favourites HIST3113 Witchcraft and the Devil.

On the subject of the devil though, let’s play devil’s advocate! There is an argument that online reading list systems facilitate ‘spoon-feeding’ of students, rather than encouraging them to develop independent research skills. It is the case that the online lists certainly provide scaffolding which can help less able students by making it easier for them to find evaluated, recommended resources – but if in turn that helps them engage with the module more and encourages them to read and participate in class, that must be a good thing. 

Online resource lists also offer plenty of opportunities for tutors to boost their students’ independent skills at a number of levels and here’s a few ways how:

  • Resource lists can easily signpost students to search tools and databases that can help train them in expanding their research. All WBS module resource lists now have a section on ‘Doing your own further research’, such as this example BUSM3019 Enhancing Organisations and Employability.
  • Tutors have the flexibility to set lists out how they want them, in clear sections – which can benefit students and encourage engagement.  This week by week resource list for COMP2381 E-business is an excellent example and also shows good use of links to video content.
  • Tutors can create lists that clearly indicate reading at different levels to ensure that all levels of student ability are catered for. BUSM1019 Business Challenge provides a good example of this with inclusion of essential, extra, and challenging reading.
  • Pre-reading resource lists for students coming onto university courses can be created. These lists will be freely available and easy to access. Here’s a good example Preparatory Reading for Primary Initial Teacher Education.

Any questions that you have about resource lists please contact askalibrarian@worc.ac.uk

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