Journals have a long history as a means of self-expression, and they can be used as learning tools in adult education. Types of journals include the reader response journal or literature log, the learning journal, the reflective journal, and the electronic journal. Journal writing offers several benefits for adult learners: journals are less threatening and closer to natural speech; they document mental processes; and they can be used as a tool for growth through critical reflection. Obstacles to students writing reflectively include the following: their lack of proficiency with reflective writing, fear resulting from open-ended writing requirements, privacy issues, and unequal balance of power between teacher and students. To overcome some of the obstacles of open-ended assignments, students should be given some guidelines that answer such questions as the following: "What is a journal?"; "What do I write?"; "Why keep it?" and "How will it be used?" Four factors affect willingness and ability to reflect: individual developmental level, perception of the trustworthiness of the teacher, clarity and nature of the expectations of the journal, and quantity and quality of feedback. Several teaching strategies can be used to encourage reflection. Teachers can serve as mentors and coaches, steering adult learners to document their learning journey through journal writing. (Contains 18 references.) (KC)
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ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Columbus, OH.
Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.