The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

15. Reading lists and selective reading

‘When faced with a long reading list comprising of several chapters from books and a number of articles, students have difficulty prioritizing their reading and knowing which areas are beyond the scope of the course.’ Petropoulou (2001).

This is particularly the case for international students who may think that they have to read everything in case they miss relevant information. The result can be overwhelming. So it is helpful that we consider the following.

  1. Are there shorter, less wordy books on the same subject? We can ask the Economics Network Team for such practical advice.
  2. Can we give a short, written, personal introduction about the benefits of consulting each of the books we are suggesting?
  3. Have the students been introduced to selective reading? If they have not, can we suggest courses provided or websites? Can we exemplify in the lecture or tutorial how to read selectively (using the index, contents page, skim reading, etc.)?
  4. Can we guide international students on why they should be reading the books and reports, or consulting a website, and what they should be looking for, perhaps even producing a list of questions?

Not only can international students practise their computer literacy skills they can also start to develop a critical faculty regarding the reliability of sources, and, very importantly, appreciate the relevance of the subject to the real world. This can be very useful for motivating them.