Getting student feedback

How students sometimes feel about giving feedback. (No librarians or students we harmed in the making of this photo. Thanks, Marta, Amy, and Maureen!)

Getting student feedback is a huge challenge. We compete with already full schedules, reaching those off-campus and convincing students their feedback will result in actual change. What we plan to do in 2012 is to gather student feedback more intentionally, to include them in the process and help shape that process. I feel these initial activities and partnerships can lead to finding better ways to assess our outreach activities, and many of our other programs and services.

Town hall meeting: each year our president does a state of the union with students only. It’s very well and broadly attended. Working with the dean of students office and student government, we will begin hosting town hall meetings for students each semester. Students can ask any question and we expect the first ten minutes to be fairly negative. I’m asking people who have good senses of humor and strong knowledge to serve on the panel. Student government is helping to promote and host it. Dean of students staff will be on hand to help should problems arise. These town hall meetings will also offer us the chance to promote changes long before they happen to start minimizing annoyances. And we plan to host them at night, after evening classes are held, when students are used to events being held for them as opposed to scheduling when convenient for us.

Student advisory board: this is already a well-established activity in many public libraries. Many colleges and universities are following suit: UNC’s SLAB, Lewis & Clark’s Student Advisory Committee, Cal Poly’s SLAC, and Temple’s SLAB are among schools with strong student advisory boards. I am coordinating with our Student Government and Residence Life Council to get ideas from them on how best to recruit students and run meetings. The biggest challenge will be to recruit and maintain a student from our adult education program. Being flexible on meeting times and providing food will be a must.

Giant Post Its around the library: I love giant Post-Its. I use them for a regular Question of the Week (which sends message we want this info and allows me to take the answers to meetings.) I make giant to-do lists on them. In the spring semester, students will find giant Post-Its and markers placed around rooms and zones. The Post-Its will feature questions such as, “what do you use this space for?” “what do you think this space is intended for?” “could we use this space better or differently?” and so forth. We will begin to redefine our space over the next few years and think this could be a productive way to gather feedback from students.

I hope to hear from you ways in which you have successfully gathered and used student feedback. Join the conversation!

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