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Linda Johnson and Learning Journals.

I have never used a journal in a study skills course, but I have in
my math courses.  The first time I began to use them I gave suggested
topics, etc, but found that most students became very repetitive in
what they said from entry to entry.  At mid-semester, I then gave
them a more directed and focused assignment for each week. The
following semester, I gave them the entire listing of directed
journal assignments at the beginning of the semester so that each
week would have a different focus.

My math course is an entry level course, Math and the Liberal Arts.
I have them reflect on their past experiences in math, experiences
with teachers, and experiences that friends might have had.  Then I
also interweave reflective questions to get at how they perceive they
are doing this semester by having them reflect upon their grades,
homework, etc.  I also encourage questions that reflect their feeling
about math.  The last entry they are asked to look back over their
entries, and the semester and summarize the semester.

Of course, I have students who think it unbelievable that a math
class would have such an assignment.  I have students from all sorts
of background--some successful and other not so successful.  There
are three major reasons I do this.  First, for those who have math
anxieties, it begins to relieve them.  Second, it give as me insight
into my students and how they are viewing the course and my
effectiveness in their own case.  It also gives me LOTS of insight
into those students who are not particularly good at participating.
Third, it develops their reflective thinking and own personal
analysis of their achievements.

Hope this will give you some ideas.

Joyce Hedrick
Math Instructor and
Learning Center Director
Eastern Mennonite University
Harrisonburg, VA  22801
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