Tag Archives: literature

POSTER – Developing student engagement through online narratives: the Cambridge Literature Timeline

Elizabeth Tilley & Charlotte Hoare
@LibTil / @kclapk

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.1 – POSTER

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Poster Outline
The timeline is a visual online resource populated with ‘stories’. The purpose of the timeline is to provide students with a resource that encourages knowledge and understanding of literary context. It is populated by library staff and students crowdsourcing the timelines, both in and out of the classroom.

The Cambridge Literature Timeline was developed for undergraduate students studying English Literature. Over the course of three years students will study all periods of literature from Medieval to Contemporary, and therefore placing authors within an historical context is crucial. What was happening around them when authors were writing is likely to be crucial to understanding and interpreting the literary content eg studying Alexander Pope without being aware of wider philosophical debate in the Enlightenment Period would be to their detriment. Examiner reports from the Faculty of English indicate that students regularly fail to understand the historical and literary context within which the author they are studying falls. Students themselves recognize that this information will help them, and frequently spend time creating their own timelines. An online timeline would provide a resource that they could return to time and again, and would be available for all students to access.

The software used for the timeline is tiki-toki and through the account we were using we could add student groups for editing content. Ownership of the content in the timeline – in order that the students would find information relevant and useful – led us to setting up scenarios where they could crowdsource the timeline (whether virtually, or as a group activity).  Content would be moderated by library staff, and the timeline regularly promoted at the beginning of new courses. The results of the face-to-face crowdsourcing sessions along with subsequent engagement with the timeline will be presented in this poster along with examples of the student’s work.

We considered that the timeline could be used in a number of different ways with students and that the idea of crowdsourcing content in this manner could be utilized by others.


222 – Engaging students with a resource list: an exploration of student perceptions, expectations and use of reading lists – Alison Lahlafi, Peter Gledhill

Strand: Supporting students; The technology enhanced course

Anticipated outcomes: Participants will be better informed about student perceptions, expectations and approach to using reading lists. They will be aware of best practice approaches and use of technology to help develop reading lists into dynamic resource lists.

Session outline (or abstract): max 300 words

Reading lists are an integral part of most course modules, described as being “at the heart of the academic experience,” (Swain, 2006, p18) and “one of the most important resources for any course of study in UK HE”, (Secker, 2005, p41).This session explores student perceptions and expectations around reading lists, presenting findings from SHU student focus groups on reading lists, and a literature review on student engagement with reading lists.

Elements considered:

  • whether student reading list usage is “means-end instrumentalism” focussing on a “minimalist approach to use of a limited number of sources”, (Stokes & Martin, 2008, p 124)
  • “futility of multiple copy provision” (Chelin, 2005 p 49) set against “UK students’ reluctance to buy books” (Swain, 2006, p19)
  • how reading lists can “spoon-feed” or encourage information skills/student autonomy (Stokes and Martin, 2008)
  • the need for “decoding” of reading lists to provide better signposting to students, (Carroll, 2002)

The session also explores the potential impact of Resource Lists Online (RLO), including an enhancement of the student experience of reading lists and how RLO encourages the use of a mixture of resources to develop a reading list into a resource list. Best practice recommendations for resource lists at SHU are outlined.

Session activity: “The good, the bad and the ugly”. Short five minute activity asking participants to consider two different resource lists from a student’s perspective, identifying elements which can help engage students with their reading.


CARROLL, J. (2002) Suggestions for teaching international students more effectively. [online] Last accessed 1st March 2013 at:

CHELIN, J. (2005) Five hundred into 4 won’t go: how to solve the problem of reading list expectations. SCONUL Focus, 36, 49-51.

SECKER, J. (2005) DELIVERing library resources to the virtual learning environment. Program electronic library and information systems, 39(1), 39-49.

STOKES, P. and MARTIN, M. (2008) Reading lists: a study of tutor and student perceptions, expectations and realities. Studies in Higher Education, 33(2), 113-125.

SWAIN, H. (2006) Makeovers for the guides to essential reading. [online] Times Higher Education, 26 January. Last accessed 1st March 2013 at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Click to view presentation:  222 lta conference 2013 Gledhill and Lahlafi