Gather feedback and promote deeper learning with a journal

Posted on: February 15, 2012 | By: Cheri Crabb, PhD | Filed under: Instructional Technologies, Moodle, Teaching & Learning

Journal ImageA 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 paper

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.

Photo by Flickr user [E]mmanuel17 / Creative Commons licensed BY-NC 2.0

UPDATE (5/16/2012): Removed references to the Moodle Journal activity.

About the author

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.

Cheri Crabb, PhD

I am dedicated to working with online faculty at Elon University and pride myself on designing quality curriculum advocating instructional technology usage. My career in academia is focused on instructional design and development using integrated electronic media systems. I earned my Doctor of Philosophy in Instructional Systems Design and Development from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University while representing NASA’s Office of Education as their first Graduate Studies Research Program doctoral fellowship recipient.

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One response to “Gather feedback and promote deeper learning with a journal”

  1. […] See our previous Moodle Musings post with creative ways to use Moodle Journals, including one-minute papers, reflections on content and brainstorming activities. […]