Gather feedback and promote deeper learning with a journal
A journal can be used for students to reflect on issues at a deeper and more personal level, and they provide a private means of communication between the instructor and student. Let’s discuss several creative journal uses for your classes.
One-minute papers are a quick method to acquire informal feedback from students about a lesson, assignment, test, or activity. Posing these questions in the journal area daily can provide valuable information which can be addressed at the beginning of the following class:
- What was the murkiest point in the lesson or reading?
- What was the most important point in the lesson, discussion, or reading?
- What would you like to learn more about?
Reflection on content
Assigning students a reflection paper encouraging them to think specifically about the course content and real world connections, rather than self-reflection or interpretation, may promote deeper learning.
Such assignments can be effective before, during, or after class.
Before a lesson ask:
- students to write what they know about the topic
- how previously discussed course material may tie in with the topic
During a lesson ask:
- students to summarize what they are learning
- identify one area of their life that connects with the material
- how they feel about the material at that moment
After a lesson ask:
- specific questions about controversial or interpretive issues and to discuss their position on the topic
Brainstorming can assist students in organizing their thoughts as a precursor to a final product such as a research paper. Help students to organize their thought process and writing style by requiring them to:
- develop a thesis statement
- outline their research design
- discuss their research
- discuss their data gathering process
- discuss their evidence
Instructors can provide detailed feedback regarding each of these individual writing chunks to assist students in becoming better writers and ultimately producing higher quality products.
To create a journal assignment in Moodle, use the “Online text” assignment type. More details about the Moodle “Online text” assignment can be found in the wiki.
UPDATE (5/16/2012): Removed references to the Moodle Journal activity.
Cheri Crabb, PhD, Academic Technology Consultant with TLT, has a career in academia focused on instructional design and development using integrated electronic media systems for blended learning.