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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Journal Keeping by Dannelle Stevens and Joanne Cooper



The book Journal Keeping-How to Use Reflection Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight, and Positive Change by Dannelle Stevents and Joanne Cooper provides a nice framework for including journals in both higher education and our personal lives. Through the use of a journal we can help solidify our thoughts and come to a better understanding of ourselves. Professors, business owners, and students can all find an educational benefit in writing out their goals, strategies, dreams and hopes. 

The author proposes that such journal writing be implemented in graduate and doctoral education. The journal provides 1. Writing as thinking, 2. Practice in fluency in writing and motivation, 3. Acceptance of journal writing when it is fully integrated into course work. Not only does it provide a higher depth of thought but also improves upon general self-reflection. When students understand the benefits of journal writing they accept and adapt it to their own needs. 

The use of journal also provides critical reflection and opportunities for transformational learning. Informational learning involves acquisition of knowledge while transformational learning provides critical reflection on assumptions and thoughts. Graduate students should learn how to think critically, thoroughly and challenge assumptions they hold to think more clearly.

The journal also helps people to understand themselves in a constantly changing and adjusting world. It helps to ground and define a person’s personality so that they may use this vantage point to make decisions for themselves. Since undergraduate education is important for understanding one’s skills and abilities it would be a natural extension to encourage such students to also understand their personal desires and needs. Perhaps the use of journals would help students find the right major quicker and therefore shave off some cost from the educational process.

Business owners may find the ability to write out their strategic thoughts as an advantage inherent in journal writing. As they think about their strategies and how they fit with their personal goals they can catalog their ideas to go back and expand or review. Continually building on strategic ideas makes them more concrete, thorough, and able to be adjusted when situations change. 

Personally, I have used journal writing in my classes and students seemed to have accepted its inherent benefits. By using journal writing as a graded assignment it allows the students to reflect on important class concepts which helps solidify the knowledge they have learned through reflection. If a student can integrate the knowledge they learned in their class into their lives by remembering key concepts a week after they have been taught you know that student learning is occurring. 

The book is a strong read for professors and administrators. It provides insight into the benefits of journal writing for student success. Since such skills are a habit that helps to develop students as self-reflective individuals who think through complex concepts and issues. The book offers cited resources for those who desire to view other sources of journal writing benefits. The three major sections are Journal Writing Definition, Reflection and Learning, Reflection and Adult Developmental Theory.

Stevens, D. & Cooper, J. (2009)Journal Keeping-How to Use Reflection Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight, and Positive Change. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publish ISBN 978-1-57922-215-4

Price: $44.00 I received a discount for around half at a WASC conference
Blog Review: 4.4
Pages: Approximately 244

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