I have written up a short two-page document on reading logs. I try to use these in all seminars I am giving in order to stimulate discussion and encourage engaged reading. German universities tend to prefer presentations as a means of assessing student participation and understanding. I believe, however, they are a highly deficient way to achieve engagement in class. The real reason for preferring presentations is to take work load off the lecturer. 20-40 minutes of each 90-minute session is spent on a presentation with most of the remainder discussing the text in light of it. Lecturers need to prepare less, have to do no additional reading (of reading logs) and can evaluate students on the spot.
Presentations, in many ways, epitomise the lazy and indulgent culture prevalent in German universities - at least in the "soft" sciences. Of course, this is not due to some inherent character flaws or even mere negligence amongst lecturers. It is mostly a result of the complete lack of appreciation for teaching at universities. It is hard to believe that while we spend (ideally) 50% of our time on teaching, basically 0% of our job prospects are related to the quality of our seminars. Hundreds of hours spent discussing with young people are worth so much less than a paper that might only be read by a handful of academics. Simultaneously, a lot of teaching is done by young researchers who are vastly underpaid for their work. No wonder they are often not motivated to put more effort in than necessary. And no wonder the lack of enthusiasm often spreads to the students.
Anyways, this is the document. I would love to get some feedback and hear from others that might have used reading logs or had to write them as a student.
Enjoy your week!