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Enhancing online reading lists for tertiary education

Abstract
Reading lists are a pedagogical tool widely used in tertiary education. Reading lists may provide pedagogical ‘scaffolding’ in which academics offer support to students through signposting and rich annotation on required readings. They thus have a critical role to play in transforming students into autonomous learners. However, it has been observed that existing Reading Lists software solutions support student learning in a partial, fractured way and are under-used in their role as a pedagogical tool. Therefore, this thesis examines the barriers to uptake of Reading Lists (i.e., reading lists that has been created using a special reading lists management software application) in universities, and, in particular, to explore possible interventions to improve academics’ experience with Reading Lists. We employed a mixed-methods approach in which we performed user studies (for academics, librarians, and students), content analyses and prototype designs. The results of these studies have been published across six research papers comprising Chapters 2–7 in this thesis. The first paper explores the types of resources that are linked in Reading Lists, in particular the inclusion of electronic materials. We identified that many academics struggle with successfully linking resources, and do not perceive the process to be user friendly. We recommended a number of interventions to improve the reading list experience for academics. In the second paper, we examined in greater detail the make-up of Reading Lists at the University of Waikato. We investigated the experience of academics and librarians when creating Reading Lists and found that uptake of Reading Lists varies widely between different academic disciplines. We recommended developing discipline-specific support to increase Reading Lists numbers and to integrate pedagogical features to increase academic buy-in. The third paper explores the students’ experience with the Reading Lists, in particular, when accessing electronic materials. The results of our analysis found that the students appreciate the way that Reading Lists help in their learning and perceive Reading Lists to be a useful tool for their learning process. However, their use of Reading Lists features varied due to the lack of awareness, visibility and interaction difficulties. We recommend enhancing the usability and the pedagogical features of Reading Lists to increase students' engagement. In the fourth paper, we explore in greater detail the pedagogical support that is offered in Reading List systems designed for tertiary teaching in a comparative study. The results of our comparative analysis identified a need for Reading List systems’ features that provide pedagogical support to better integrate into academic teaching. For these features to be truly beneficial, we identified a need to assist teachers to effectively use these tools in their daily practice. In our fifth paper, we explore the academics' experiences with Reading Lists by focusing on their engagement with the specific aspects, such as creating a reading list, linking resources and the reading lists’ notes. We found a need for streamlining the user workflow, improved usability, and better synchronization with other teaching support systems. We recommend improving the systems’ usability by re-engineering the user workflows and to better integrate “the notes feature” into academic teaching. In our final paper, we explore the academics’ feedback for prototype design, in which we introduce a redesigned interface for Reading Lists system, in comparison to the existing interfaces of the Waikato Reading Lists system. The results of our analysis identify that our new prototype design is better than the existing interfaces and our design has been accepted by the majority of academics. In conclusion, the research presented in this thesis has contributed to our understanding of the experiences of academics, librarians, and students as they engage with Reading List systems. Our investigation has identified obstacles that hinder the adoption of Reading List systems, shedding light on the challenges faced by users in embracing these platforms. Additionally, our findings have resulted in a proposed enhanced interface aimed at simplifying and streamlining the use of Reading List systems. This suggested improvement seeks to create a user experience for all individuals involved, encouraging wider acceptance and integration of Reading List systems into the higher education landscape. By deepening our understanding of the interactions between users and Reading List systems this research provides insights that can guide advancements in educational technology. Ultimately, we hope that these contributions will pave the way for efficient engagement with Reading List systems thus enhancing the overall teaching and learning experience.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Date
2023
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Rights
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