Feedback is Scary But Useful

Photo from Library Joy

Photo from Library Joy

Today I solicited feedback from students. Having become a little more comfortable with library instruction, I was ready to hear from them if I was doing an ok job. The goal of this experiment (inspired by this post from the Lessons Learned blog) was to help me improve and modify my instruction to meet the needs of students, and to get them used to asking questions.

I gave them three blanks to fill in:

1. One thing I learned today was _____________

2. One question I still have is _____________

3. If you would like me to respond to your question, please provide your email: _____________@mail.usask.ca Thanks! 🙂

How to sweeten the deal? I made the feedback slips completely optional, but bribed the students with chocolate. Turn in a slip, receive a mini chocolate bar for your trouble! The promise of a reward was very effective, and encouraged active listening througout my session. I even had a professor fill one out, proving that it’s never too late to learn!

The responses were very illuminating (and none of them were mean!). My all-time favourite response was: “Everything shown today was new.” This warms my heart and makes me feel like I’m actually making a difference. In terms of specifics, it seems that students were most excited about discovering Google Scholar. This search engine came up repeatedly in their responses, making me think that Google Scholar is really under the radar. In addition, I was really pleased with the questions students asked me – everything from, “How can I tell if it is a scholarly peer-reviewed article?” to “How do I find the books on the shelves?”. In a twenty-five minute whirlwind session, we sure don’t have time to cover everything! By giving the students the option to write their email address, I was able to get back to a number of them and answer those questions. More importantly, it opens the line of communication between myself and the student. This is a practice I will definitely continue using!

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2 thoughts on “Feedback is Scary But Useful

  1. The one thing that I’ve noticed that impresses students is a database thesaurus. It seems to be an intuitive way to demonstrate ‘control language’ and is the quickest way to show the power of ‘non-Google’ searching.

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