Critical friends: a method for peer feedback
The Critical Friend-method has been used in various educational settings to facilitate the process of continuous improvement in teaching. The aim of this study was to implement Critical Friends, and to find out if this method could be used for feedback on teaching as part of a librarians' professional development. The project was carried out within the Library Unit of the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University, Sweden, in collaboration with the faculty's Centre for Teaching and Learning. Seven librarians and an educational consultant from the Centre for Teaching and Learning participated; the educational consultant played an essential role in supervising and structuring the project and the evaluation process, preparing readings as well as being an active participant. The participants worked in pairs; the performance of one teacher and the associated classroom activities were observed by the critical friend, and then evaluated and discussed.
Evaluation and results
After two preparatory group meetings, a final meeting was held where all pairs reported what they had done and how they perceived the critical friend process. The experiences of the participating librarians were explored using a questionnaire. The questionnaire was analyzed using content analysis by one librarian and the educational consultant independently. The results suggested that use of the critical friend method could have a positive impact by achieving the following: strengthening shared values concerning teaching issues; promoting self-reflection on teaching; facilitating communication with colleagues; and reducing the sense of 'loneliness‘ in teaching. The difficulties in the implementation were lack of time and competing duties. It was perceived as an advantage to work in close partnership with the faculty's educational consultants, who were familiar with the organization.
Copyright (c) 2013 Katarina Jandér, Gudrun Edgren, Yvonne Hultman Özek
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