Dare! One way of leaving your comfort zone and becoming better teachers - Emma Palmqvist Wojda & Anna Stigell.
Stockholm University Library
• Finding teaching sessions that fit into our
• Relatively high drop-out rate.
• Many participants found the sessions at
the partner library very similar to their own
sessions. Is this a problem, or a sign that
we’ve found a way of teaching that works?
Tips for Success
• Short written presentations on our individ-
ual strengths and what we wanted feed-
back on were useful tools to express our
expectations beforehand and give our po-
tential critial friends an idea of what we
could learn from each other.
• A coordinator was necessary for pairing
participants on the basis of their presenta-
tions. We spent a few idle weeks waiting
for someone else to make a first move be-
fore we decided on a coordinator.
• Have a start-up social gathering. We had
a lunch followed by a meeting, but a more
open and social event would have been
• Keep it simple and just do it!
Critical Friends is a method for professional
development relying on peer observation and
feed-back. It’s a DIY, no-fuss way of giving in-
sights and opportunities to immediately im-
prove your teaching.
At Stockholm University Library, we have run
a successful Critical Friends programme for a
few terms. Our Critical Friends approach has
also inspired other libraries to do the same.
However, over time we found that our own
peer feedback felt too safe and did not chal-
lenge our ideas to the same extent. Together
with Uppsala University Library, we started
up a Critical Friends team to collaborate on
peer-to-peer teaching evaluation.
Hultman Özek, Y., Edgren, G., & Jandér, K. (2012). Imple-
menting the Critical Friend Method for Peer Feedback
among Teaching Librarians in an Academic Setting. Evi-
dence Based Library And Information Practice, 7(4), 68-81.
Qvarnström, Satu (2013) Critical friends. A way of enhanc-
ing teaching quality in academic libraries. Poster present-
ed at International Enhancement Themes Conference
Glasgow UK 2013. http://www.enhancementthemes.
Has friendship played a role in the success of
our Critical Friends programme? The teach-
ing librarians at Stockholm University Library
are a close-knit team of teaching generalists
and also good friends. Everyone in the team
has taken an active part as a Critical Friend.
Uppsala University Library, with more auton-
omous branch libraries, had fewer staff sign-
ing up for the Critical Friends programme.
While Critical Friends probably is especially
useful for librarians with few teaching col-
leagues, we assume that this might also be a
hindrance when invited to receive feed-back
on their teaching, as they have fewer oppor-
tunities for discussions on these topics.When
planning to use Critical Friends as a model for
professional development, we would suggest
first creating opportunities for discussions on
teaching and give a thought to team building.
DARE!Leave your comfort zone and become a better teacher.
A Critical Friends collaboration between Stockholm
University Library and Uppsala University Library.
Improvements: Dare to be
StrengTHs: hands on
Improvements: activate a
Emma Palmqvist Wojda