Reflections on using journals in higher education: A focus group discussion with faculty
O'Connell, T and Dyment, JE, Reflections on using journals in higher education: A focus group discussion with faculty, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31, (6) pp. 671-691. ISSN 0260-2938 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Reflective journals have become an increasingly popular tool used by numerous faculty across many disciplines in higher education. Previous research and narrative reports of journal writing have explored student perceptions of journal writing, but very little is understood about faculty perceptions. In this paper, we report on a study involving eight university faculty who teach courses with outdoor field components in the areas of outdoor recreation, experiential education, or outdoor education. We present the faculty member's: (1) current practices of journal writing (types of journals, types of entries, process of journal writing), (2) perceptions of journal writing (rationale, quality, evaluation) and (3) recommendations to maximize the potential of journal writing. A mixed methods approach was used that included a 32-item quantitative questionnaire and a focus group discussion. By and large, the faculty who participated in this study appreciated the pedagogical potential of journal writing. They were, however, cautious about certain aspects of the journaling process and offered numerous suggestions for improving the 'journaling experience.' This paper concludes with several recommendations for consideration by higher education faculty who use journal writing as an instructional technique.