The Library set up a feedback board to ask students how they felt we could support them during exam season. We also set up creative feedback activities, inviting students to create ‘eggmojis’ to express how they felt about using the Library and display poems about the Library with magnetic poetry.
Students using the Library to prepare for exams.
For one week during exam season, we invited students to answer the question: “How can the Library support you through the exam period?” We provided multi-coloured post-it notes and pens for students to add their comments to a feedback board, located in a visible and convenient place. This was a student-centred activity and they collectively created a dynamic display that grew and became more impactful as the week progressed.
We also set up two creative, de-stress feedback activities. Students were invited to create ‘eggmojis’ to answer the question: “How does using the Library make you feel?” and to make poems about the Library using magnetic poetry. These offered opportunities to briefly change focus and participate in creative activities requiring little time and effort, that prompted students to stop and consider how they were feeling during exam season.
A week later, we set up a board with responses to the main issues highlighted in the feedback. We displayed selected post-it notes and wrote responses alongside these to demonstrate how the Library was responding to the feedback.
The project was part of a wider programme of user experience research defined in a UX roadmap based on Library strategy. We had previously run a Valentine’s themed feedback board, an idea that had been presented at a UX training workshop. Students had engaged well with this and we were able to gather useful feedback to help inform decisions about the development of the Library. We noticed other benefits in terms of student experience, such as fostering a sense of community by creating a focal point where students stopped to read, contribute to, and talk about the display. We were keen to build on this by running more student-centred feedback activities that would provide insights and also give students the opportunity to de-stress during exam season.
The key findings were that students wanted improvements in Library facilities and maintenance (such as more power sockets and free hot drinks), Library environment (such as increased silent study space), and policy on user behaviour (such as making noise and “desk hogging”).
In total students made around 460 contributions to all activities. They submitted 260 comments to the feedback board, and created 158 eggmojis and more than 40 poems, while many more students were observed stopping to look at the displays. The high levels of engagement showed that the feedback activities helped to facilitate student voice in the Library, and as the displays grew, the sense of student voice and community became more visible and impactful. Through these feedback activities, we were able to involve students in the development of the Library and gain a greater understanding of their perspectives to help improve student experience.
The student-centred design helped to foster a sense of community as the displays presented a sense of shared experience, with students stopping to look at them, talk about them, and add their own contributions. About a third of comments showed students engaging with the board in social or humorous ways. Many comments gave a sense of the personality of the student community and the interests that connect them. Some comments showed that the board provided an outlet for emotion and stress during the exam period. It also helped to facilitate a conversation among students, who interacted with the comments they read by writing their own responses.
The eggmojis showed a diverse range of expressions and many took the opportunity to turn their stress into something fun and creative, and to share this through the displays, in turn allowing other students who were feeling stressed to see that they were not alone. Through short poems, students expressed their experience of exam season with a humorous tone: they were studying intensely and had little time for anything else, but were looking forward to relaxing after their exams. The display of poems communicated this sense of shared experience.
The response board was used as a way to continue the conversation and demonstrate that the feedback was being acted on, and the reaction from students has been positive. We posted an image of this board on the Library Facebook page,which received the highest number of likes and overall engagement of all posts that week. We also received positive comments from students on the Library’s “swift” response to student feedback.
We have developed recommendations based on the feedback in response to the key issues. Many of the issues that the recommendations address are ongoing, such as increasing silent study space in the Library. The recommendations include:
- Committing to the proposed programme to add and improve electrical sockets around the library.
- Setting up rooms with an exam style layout and promoting them as silent spaces during exam season.
- Researching and trialling different means of controlling user behaviour.
Building on how the feedback activities helped to foster a sense of community, we plan to organise a Welcome Week event in the Library to help new students orientate themselves and learn to use the Library with student-centred, interactive activities throughout the Library.
We found that once we set up the feedback activities and gave broad instructions, students engaged with them in their own way, creating the displays themselves to make them more interesting and engaging for other students. By setting up activities in this way, students were encouraged to take ownership and choose how they wanted to engage with them, and to shape their own collaborative displays.