Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Different Approaches to Student Journal Reflections

Starting Point, an online teaching resource for undergraduate instructors provided through Carleton College, recommends seven different formats for student journaling as part of the experiential learning process. Those offering service learning courses and/ or the externship competence should consider these unguided and structured journal assignments.

Unguided journal reflections include the “personal journal” and the “dialogue journal.”


- The “personal journal” is one in which the students freely recount their experiences without prompts.
- The “dialogue journal” is the model used in many SNL online courses. Students submit journal entries on a predetermined schedule, and the instructor provides feedback on the students’ findings in return.
Some students find it helpful to have more direction in their journal writing. Examples of guided journal assignments consist of the “highlighted journal,” “the key phrase journal,” “the three part journal,” “the double entry journal,” and the “critical incident journal.”



- The “highlighted journal” asks students to write about their experiences and then later go through the text and mark the pieces that pertain directly to course content.
- In the “Key phrase” journal, students are given course-specific terms and asked to incorporate them into their journal entries.
- The “three-part” journal asks students to divide each entry into three parts: Describing the experience, relating the experience to course content, and then applying the experience to their personal or professional goals.
- In the “double entry journal,” students divide their journal entries into two parts; one page is devoted to personal thoughts and responses to the experiential learning, and the opposite page is devoted to key concepts from class discussions and readings.
- The “critical incident journal” gives students prompts and asks them to evaluate their experiential learning experience through the lens of personal reflection and implications the experience will have for their future.

The full text is available by visiting: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/service/types_journal.html.

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