Saturday, June 19, 2004

Journal Writing and Adult Learning. Thia is not directly related to information literacy but I found it to be a good read. I hope you do too.

From the site:

"The value of journal writing to a course with adult students cannot be overemphasized." (Sommer 1989, p. 115)

Journals and diaries have a long history as a means of self-expression. Several themes prevalent in adult learning--coming to voice, developing the capacity for critical reflection, and making meaning--are reflected in the way journals can be used in adult education. Journals are useful learning tools in a variety of adult education settings. Dialog journals, for example, have become popular in adult literacy and English as a second language classrooms. This digest focuses on several types of journals, exploring their value in assisting adults through their learning journey and summarizing advice from the literature on effective ways to use journals.


One type is the reader response journal or literature log, in which learners record their responses to readings. Used on all levels from adult basic education through graduate study, such logs enable readers to enter the literature in their own voice (Perham 1992), placing themselves in relation to the text and discovering what they think about it. Over time, the log itself becomes another primary text to which they can respond (Perl 1994). Usually, entries are shared with the class, stimulating discussion. In one variation described by Perham, a looseleaf notebook accessible to the whole class becomes a collaborative journal in which learners and teacher make ongoing comments. Both Perham and Perl feel that these response journals have the power to build a community of learners though the process of critical co-reading and co-writing.

The learning journal is a systematic way of documenting learning and collecting information for self-analysis and reflection. When used in an adult education class, they can be more or less structured depending on the objectives and degree of self-direction of the learners. Examples from Schatzberg-Smith (1989), Oaks (1995), and Clark (1994) illustrate the wide range of learner levels and applications. Adult students in community colleges who are academically underprepared (Schatzberg-Smith 1989) use them to record their study habits and attitudes; through journal dialog with a more academically skilled adult, they receive support, insight, and feedback; learn to connect the abstract and the concrete; and develop metacognitive strategies they will need for higher education.

Distance learners lack the physical presence of co-learners for dialog and collaboration. At Empire State College (Oaks 1995), a structured learning journal replicates for distance learners many of the functions of a collaborative writing group. The learners are given specific questions that stimulate their journal entries and reinforce their movement through the writing process. In a sense, the journal substitutes self-dialog for communal discourse.

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