I apologize for responding so late. I am still trying to catch up after
returning from a long vacation.

Reflective journals are not limited to feelings.


Rosemarie Woodruff
Counseling and Student Development Center
University of Hawaii-Manoa
2600 Campus Road, SSC 312
Honolulu, HI 96822

                The world is full of obstacle illusions.
                                                         Grant Frasier

On Tue, 10 Aug 1999, James F. Trumm wrote:

> At the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, let me register some
> serious reservations about the "reflective journal" as a pedagogic tool.
> Maybe the teachers who assigned me such journals were not the sharpest tools
> in the shed, and maybe I am just tempermentally unsuited to such
> assignments, but in my experience the requirement that students keep a
> "reflective journal" is usually imposed by teachers who are unable or
> unwilling to assign more intellectually rigorous work.
> When I assigned written work at the two-year colleges where I taught, I
> handed my students an "oh no!" list, an enumeration of constructions I did
> not want to see in student papers.  High up on that list were sentences
> which begin, "I feel that . . . ."  I told my students that while their
> emotional reactions to the work I assigned were of interest to me, they did
> not belong in a college paper.  My opinion is that students fall back on the
> "I feel . . ." construction 1) as a defensive move, since after all, how can
> one grade a feeling?, and 2) out of a lack of confidence in their thoughts
> and their ability to reason.
> "Reflective journals," in my limited experience, are simply extended essays
> beginning with "I feel . . . "  They are treated as a joke by the more
> accomplished students, and have the unfortunate effect of giving less
> talented students the impression that exploring their feelings constitutes
> academic work.  A "reflective journal" does not challenge a student to move
> outside his own head.  It does not teach a student how to defend assertions
> with which he agrees nor to find flaws with assertions with which he does
> not agree.  It doesn't stretch a student's mind.  It is all but impossible
> to evaluate.
> One argument in favor of the assignment of "reflective journals" is that
> they encourage students to write.  Perhaps they do.  What they don't do,
> though, is to teach critical thought.  There are many other ways of
> encouraging students to write.  Surely teachers can challenge their students
> to do more than report on their own emotions.
> James F. Trumm
> S.O.S., Inc.: Students for Other Students
> 3171 N. Republic Boulevard
> Toledo, Ohio 43615
> Fax 419-843-7229
> Phone 419-843-5798