The art of giving constructive feedback
On January 15, Dr. Carol Weiss of the Villanova Institute of Teaching and Learning (VITAL) facilitated a lively workshop on how peer mentors can offer constructive feedback to colleagues. Falvey’s instruction librarians were the appreciative and enthusiastic participants. Dr. Weiss led the session in response to their request for a workshop to enrich Falvey’s peer mentoring program.
Launched in 2006, the peer mentoring program provides the instruction librarians with ongoing opportunities to share pedagogical techniques and materials and to support one another in their teaching role. The heart of the program consists of pairing librarians -- one who conducts an instruction session and the other who attends and then offers his or her observations. Practice in providing constructive verbal and written feedback is necessary for the program’s development.
The workshop began with the participants reading a humorous case study featuring a fictitious librarian conducting a class. Dr. Weiss led a discussion of the strong and weak points of the librarian’s performance. The participants, working in pairs, took turns assuming the roles of mentor and instructor, sharing feedback with each other on what had worked well and what could be improved.
The librarians discussed how to formulate descriptive, specific and supportive feedback and how to receive and accept that feedback. Finally, Dr. Weiss distributed handouts with helpful hints. Thanks to Dr. Weiss’ workshop, the Falvey instruction librarians are better equipped to spur one another on to teaching excellence.
Contributed by Barbara Quintiliano