Using Resource Lists to deliver an inclusive educational experience? – by Polly Harper (Library Services)

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Inclusivity, by its very definition, should include all aspects of an educational experience. One key element is ensuring equal and transparent access for all students to the resources that come with their University education.

Very often, this might be achieved via a well-considered reading list, or here at Birmingham, a Resource List on our University system. A reading list can lie at the heart of a module, and a ‘student’s ability to access it effectively in the format they require can make a big difference to achievement, engagement and satisfaction with the course’ (Jisc, 2016). Whilst the access to resources is indeed fundamental, so too is providing students with transparent and fair guidance, setting clear expectations around what resources and readings they should be engaging with for their course.

But what might an inclusive Resource List look like?  Here are a few possible ideas:

A list which provides equal access to resources– Direct links through to online resources and scans of sections of hardcopy texts means that all students can access the same reading or resource 24/7.

A flexible list which allows for different ways of learning – Recommending different kinds of resources will suit different modes of teaching and learning and enrich engagement with resources – whether it be a book chapter, a journal article, a website, a documentary clip from Box of Broadcasts or a podcast. Multiple tutors might collaborate on one list too to bring together different teaching styles and recommended resources in one place. A list which provides transparent guidance and expectation –Carefully structuring a list can help scaffold learning, whether through weekly or themed readings. To provide clarity over what should be prioritised, items can be marked with importances, such as ‘essential’ ‘recommended’ or ‘background.’ (n.b. this also flags up to the library where we might need to buy in more copies of items!) Including contextual notes can also help students better understand what they are actually engaging with. For those who haven’t comes across a topic area before, the inclusion of key background readings, which students can perhaps look at before Semester begins , will help everyone to begin from a level playing field.

A list encouraging students to develop their own ways of learning– A list can serve as a platform from which students can be pointed towards, for example, relevant databases or journals, encouraging their own further independent research. Each individual student can then also interact with their list by adding personal notes and reading intentions to items to help structure their thinking and prioritise their study.

Would you add anything else? There is definitely room for more research on how reading lists can support and promote an inclusive curriculum. Are you using your Resource List in an inclusive way? Please feel free to get in touch to let us know, share ideas, or for any help in using the system at all:

Jisc. (2016) Supporting an inclusive learner experience in higher education. Available at: (Accessed 13 April 2018).

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