Implementing the Critical Friend Method for Peer Feedback among Teaching Librarians in an Academic Setting

Yvonne Hultman Özek, Gudrun Edgren, Katarina Jandér

Abstract


Objective – The role of the academic librarian has become increasingly educative in nature. In this study, the critical friend method was introduced among teaching librarians in an academic setting of medicine and health sciences to ascertain whether this approach could be implemented for feedback on teaching of these librarians as part of their professional development.

Methods – We used a single intrinsic case study. Seven teaching librarians and one educator from the faculty of medicine participated, and they all provided and received feedback. These eight teachers worked in pairs, and each of them gave at least one lecture or seminar during the study period. The performance of one teacher and the associated classroom activities were observed by the critical friend and then evaluated and discussed. The outcome and effects of critical friendship were assessed by use of a questionnaire.

Results – The present results suggest that use of the critical friend method among teaching academic librarians can have a positive impact by achieving the following: strengthening shared values concerning teaching issues; promoting self-reflection, which can improve teaching; facilitating communication with colleagues; and reducing the sense of “loneliness” in teaching. This conclusion is also supported by the findings of previous studies.

Conclusion – The critical friend method described in this study can easily be implemented and developed among teaching librarians, provided that there is support from the organization. This will benefit the individual teaching librarian, as well as the organization at large.

Keywords


academic librarians; teaching librarians; critical friend; peer observation; structured feedback; constructive criticism; professional development

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