Writing book reviews has educational value for evening Bachelor Degree students, says IFT scholar

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CHINA 27 May 2019: Writing a book review can be a valuable exercise in helping undergraduates to develop critical thinking and learn new things. That is according to IFT Evening Bachelor Degree Programmes Adjunct Instructor Dr. Noah Tang, who is also an experienced book reviewer for local Chinese-language newspaper Macao Daily News.

Dr. Tang teaches the Economics course for Year 1 students in the IFT evening bachelor degree programmes.

The scholar encourages his students to go beyond the course syllabus and read books on economics and artificial intelligence. “I previously taught in secondary schools, and I have been teaching at higher-education level for nearly 7 years: I have always introduced my students to the value of reading,” he says.

Additionally he advises, “students can also write and submit a book review as an extracurricular activity”.

He mentions that some of the reviews produced by IFT students have been of sufficiently high quality to be published. Ramos Ao Ieong, a Year 1 student of the Tourism Event Management Evening Degree Programme, recently collaborated on a book review with Dr. Tang, which was featured in Macao Daily News (“當人類遇上人工智能和經濟學”, published on 24 March, 2019).

“There are 3 types of book reviews,” Dr. Tang explains. “For the most basic type, the reviewer will just write down the main ideas of the book; in the second type, the reviewer will suggest how the public can apply the ideas featured in the book to daily life or work; the third kind of review – the most demanding one – requires the reviewer to link the content of the book with similar ideas from other books and authors, and this usually involves reading massive amounts of material.”

Added value to the CV

Dr. Tang says reading promotes learning outside a formal educational setting. “I believe this is a good habit and one worthwhile developing,” he says.

Writing a book review requires the ability to summarise the content of the book, thus demonstrating understanding of its content, notes Dr. Tang. If the review is to be published as a newspaper article, the difficulty of the task is compounded, as the text produced must be interesting, clear and concise, he explains.

“The incentive for students to write a book review for publication is that it can work as a bonus for their resumé,” Dr. Tang says. Just having a bachelor degree might not provide sufficient competitive edge in the current labour market. The scholar adds that if a graduate has published articles, this can make him or her “stand out from the crowd”.

Dr. Tang says writing book reviews promotes critical thinking and leads people to find connections between their personal experiences and the concepts introduced by various authors. Such skills once acquired, he says, will be useful for students throughout their professional life.

Looking ahead, he hopes that – should there be a critical mass generated locally of reviews for books covering economics – it could help to stimulate more research and academic work about Macao. “I hope it can eventually let the world better understand how special Macao’s economy is,” Dr. Tang says.