Student Evaluation Results from my First Library Instruction Session!

Two days ago I received a spreadsheet with feedback from the surveys that students took immediately after the library instruction session I taught. As you can imagine, I was giddy at the chance to get a glimpse into the undergrad psyche. If I am going to take the time to teach, I certainly want to know if it’s effective or not–I’m not going to live in a bubble of self-importance if in reality they’re like, “Uhh… what is she talking about?”

I thought I’d share some of the more pertinent results (I didn’t include all responses, such as the ones that merely said yes/no) and my thoughts after reading them.

What was the most valuable thing you learned today?

  • I learned how to use the library website and the most valuable thing i learned was how to chat with librarians and that i can text them as well. 
  • That the search results in onesearch is very good
  • The importance of the library resources such as ESBCO and IUCAT and how easy they are to use
  • I learned about all of the different search engines that I can easily access through the IU libraries webpage. This is super beneficial for me because I can trust these sources and not have to wade through sites that are not credible. 
  • I found the Gale opposing viewpoints resource very helpful.
  • How to access credible sources through EBSC search
  • Using the IU library website is more reliable than using Wikipedia or Google
Lots of folks said, “How to find good library resources.” Here’s my personal favorite:
  • the wikipedia and google are still the best ways to research. books are old
What was the least valuable thing you learned today?
  • Nothing, I learned alot.
  • That wikipedia wasn’t creditable
  • iu cat, how to find physical books
  • All the information I learned was super beneficial!
  • I don’t think I will need the chat with librarians resourse.
Most people said something similar to: “I already knew that Wikipedia wasn’t a good source.”
Was there anything you had hoped to learn about today but did not?
  • How to find the book in the library once found on IUCAT and then check it out
  • how to check out a book/where they are
and from the student who will always be my favorite even though I have no idea who they are:
  • No, I didn’t really come with any expectations so I’m actually glad I learned something instead of just sitting through a pointless seminar.
How could we improve this library instruction session?
  • it was great!
  • I loved the way the instruction session was designed, and gave a hands on experience. I would not change anything
  • More interactive
  • Dispose of the group presentation
  • it was pretty good
  • I learned a lot of valueable information, doing it interactively was helpful.
  • I think everything is helpful as is
  • Better instruction about the activity
  • Maybe have the students chose the topic they’re doing their speech on  
and the most puzzling of all:
  • You could improve the library session by maybe having more than one IT person
My thoughts on the feedback:

First of all, IT PERSON?! I had a good laugh after reading that one. A student thought that I was an IT person… I shouldn’t be so aghast, since the Information Commons are swarming with them, but I introduced myself as a grad student studying library and information science so it’s odd that that didn’t register. 

It seems like most students got something out of my presentation, though I realize that the standard, “I learned that IU resources are better than Google or Wikipedia,” could merely be reflexive–students typing what they knew they were supposed to get out of the presentation rather than what they actually did. This is why I liked that some students specifically referenced Gale Opposing Viewpoints, IU OneSearch, and EBSCOHost.

The individual who wrote “books are old”–well, I certainly enjoyed that comment. I mean, come on–there’s always always always that student, right? Learning is a two way street; I can do everything in my ability to make the class engaging, but receptiveness is required to actually get something from it. I am curious about whether the person was just trying to be dramatic, imagining the librarians reading it having a cow, or whether they actually believe what they wrote.

For the least valuable question, I wasn’t surprised to see that a lot of students commented that they already knew that Wikipedia wasn’t credible. During my presentation, I tried to make it clear that I knew they’d heard the spiel from plenty of teachers already and that we weren’t going to focus on me stepping onto my soapbox to bash it; rather, we would let the results speak for themselves. So I hope that their understanding was at least enriched somewhat by the comparisons. 

I was a little bit shocked that some students did not know how to find books in the library–especially because the student who wrote, “how to check out a book/where they are” was a sophomore. It is obvious to me that one-shot sessions library instruction sessions are not enough for the average student–the academic library is a vastly different beast than anything they are used to, and when I have 50 minutes and the instructor wants me to talk about citations and resource evaluation, I can’t delve into the  bread and butter basics. We touched briefly on where the stacks are during our chat about IUCAT (probably why someone wrote that learning how to find physical books was least valuable to them), but that’s the extent of it. Now I realize that I was ignorant of the very different knowledge levels that the students were at. I think I will bring some of the IU Survival Guides with me next time, as they include some information on how to find books in Wells Library.

Ah, the student who wrote that they had no expectations and learned something nevertheless! And referred to my session as the opposite of a pointless seminar! Any teacher’s dream! I do feel pleased that the 50 minutes was valuable to them–I have been in their spot many times over, prepping myself for boredom and surprised by the actual usefulness of a talk. 

As for comments on improving the session, it was a mixed bag. Any comments I didn’t include above were either, “It was great,” or, “It was pretty good,” (the boyfriend translated this one for me–apparently it means, “Libraries really bore me and I don’t want to write this paper, but this hour wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be”).  Somebody said it should be more interactive (not sure how this would be possible), someone said less interactive/no group work, some people seemed to like the interactivity just as it was. As for better instruction about the activity–I think I will type up the instructions and open the document onscreen, so they can reference it themselves instead of everyone having basic questions at once. 

Hopefully I will get the chance to teach again soon. All of the slots are currently filled, though I check the Instruction Portal diligently. 

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