Journals & Reflections

What worked best as you sought to help students learn course content through writing?

Daily writing reflections on course content as well as the requirement to bring in three written questions on course readings or lecture content. Questions can be for clarification purposes, exploring a related topic, asking for opinions, etc. Watanabe, EDEP411, F12.

For this class, I have found weekly journal entries to be a very helpful tool. They allow students to engage with the content and wrestle with thematic issues in a very satisfying way. They are posted online, and students really enjoy reading and commenting on each other's posts. Brown, HIST418, F12.

Students are required to read, discuss, and summarize all of the weekly assigned readings. To help internalize the topics, students are required to write reaction papers for each week's topic and relate these subjects to their own personal knowledge and insights, including family and village experiences for heritage students. The writing of reaction papers enables students to develop writing styles representative of adult academic writing in the Samoan and English languages. Small group discussions enable students to incorporate shared experiences and additional insights into their re-writes. The use of written reaction papers rather than oral reports permits students to develop their thoughts and styles through several revisions and also lets them analyze the thoughts and styles of others in the class. Each student is also required to write a research paper. Students further their academic writing and develop research skills and knowledge of the topic. Mayer, SAM452, F12.

The journals really allow students to delve into the course material for the class period. It also helps me gain an understanding of where students might be struggling with ideas presented. This in turn helps me guide the course to be able to address students' issues. Campos, PACE413, F12.

What works best for students to learn course content through writing are short, informal, ungraded freewriting assignments during class. These kinds of opportunities give students time to process and organize their thoughts before discussion either as a whole class or as a way to structure small group discussion. I also ask students to write up a summary of small group discussions and present it to the class. This informal writing is then used as a foundation for longer, more formal writing assignments. Aikau, POLS390, F12.

IP427B seeks to examine the evolution of Samoan author Albert Wendt's poetry, prose, and drama as he weaves universal themes of race, class, culture, movement, and sexuality against a backdrop of colonialism, decolonization, development and indigenous sensibilities, in the Pacific in general and Samoa in particular. The class looks at how Wendt uses his own historical and contemporary contexts and choices of literary genre to depict how Samoans and other Pacific islanders have responded to the above forces, their rapidly transforming societies, & shifting geographies. Students are required to make journal entries in reaction to the reading and class discussions. These journals help students formulate their thoughts and opinions about the material discussed in class & enable the instructor to work closer w/ each student to help develop concepts. Students are also required to write 2 term papers on aspects of the readings, which enables students to probe their thoughts and reactions to the course & issues. Simanu-Klutz, IP427B, F12.

Writing reading journals. Walton, ITE401, F12.

The journal assignments ensured that the students viewed the
online lectures and applied critical thinking and analytical skills to the course content because they couldn't complete the assignment without 1) viewing and 2) understanding the lectures. The journal assignments also helped keep the students on track in an online class where it is exceedingly easy to fall behind.
Mironesco, WS384/POLS384, F12.

Regular contributions to team journals. Franklin, ENG382/WS381, F12.

Journal writing has been very helpful to students and their learning of course content, much more than the students themselves have thought it would. Students rush through readings, so this assignment provides an opportunity for them to stop, think, and give some careful thought to what they read and how to make sense of the readings. They also have opportunities to re-read their own journal entries to reexamine whether they have had any change in their thoughts, ideas, attitudes or behaviors toward the subject matter. Arai, WS446/SOC446, F12.

What worked best as you sought to help students learn to be more effective writers?

I am planning to incorporate some in-class free writing, so that students can write freely without worrying about writing format, style or content, and to give them an opportunity to view writing a little differently, as a way of brainstorming, gathering thoughts, and as a means to develop ideas. Arai, WS446/SOC446, F12.

This class is already much different now (I just taught it in Summer 2011) than it was when I first applied for W focus, particularly with the addition of journal entries. For the next offering, I will also introduce a round of peer-editing as well as self-reflection on their first two essays. I have been drawing from the resources of Manoa Writing Program regarding ways to make self-reflection a part of the essay-writing process. Brown, HIST418, F12.

The major adjustments have been to move reflective journal writing to a blog post format & to include two Philosophy of Science Teaching papers (written at the beginning & end of the semester) and a student science autobiography paper as part of the reflective blog post assignments rather than having them as stand-alone assignments. I elected to make these adjustments for 2 reasons. 1st, in a blog post format students are now able & required to read & comment on each other's weekly reflections, which allows for more sustained thinking & processing of course concepts beyond class sessions. 2ndly, the inclusion of the papers and autobiography eased students' concerns about the amount of required work while not changing the amount of writing they do. O'Neill, ITE404H, F12.