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Activity 1.3: The Collection of Student Journals
The timely collection of journals helps students complete the assignment and gives them valuable feedback. Some instructors like to do so weekly, others every two, three, or four weeks. Any longer seems to defeat the purpose of the journal as a feedback mechanism on students’ engagement in and understanding of the course. Also, students are more prone to procrastinate if allowed longer periods between reviews, which defeats another purpose: to have students write a lot and write often to gain proficiency.
Regardless of the time frame adopted,
  • Let students know how many journal entries are due.
  • Stress requirements.
  • Collect the journals.
  • Review their entries.
  • Do not mark grammar or mechanics.
  • Check off and/or respond to each entry.
  • On the Table of Contents, make overview comments and give a tentative grade range (C to B-, B+ to A-, etc.) based on their content and their meeting requirements.
  • Mark down the grade range for your records.
  • Hand the papers back.
  • Visit each student quickly, in class, to answer questions and give praise.
  • On subsequent submissions,
    • Again, let students know how many journal entries are due.
    • Require that they turn in the entire journal each time.
    • Have them add new entries after the old.
    • Have them place a new Table of Contents on top of the old.
    • Review comments and reactions to first entries before beginning the new.
    • Look for improvements based on previous suggestions.
    • Respond as on earlier reviews.
Students should get a good idea of why they are getting the grade range indicated. If they want to raise it, stress all they need to do is to reflect on your comments and to make improvements. Again, they control their grade as long as their journals meet requirements and have the content in word count average and in the minimum entries required.
Anticipating Student Responses
"A" Students
These students understand but are challenged by the following macro assignment concepts:
  • Multiple journal entries over 14 weeks responding to texts, images, and student essays.
  • The use of different creative approaches to respond to these texts
  • The Table of Contents
They may also be challenged by the following micro assignment concepts:
  • What each of the twenty suggestions mean
  • The requirements for each journal entry: pagination, name of the text responded to, author, type of response, title of their response, word minimums, etc.
  • The requirements for the Table of Contents: pagination, the name of text responded to, author, type of response, title of their response, sections, minimum response requirements, etc.
"B" Students
They seem more confused by the micro concepts than the A students.
"C" Students and Below
  • They can be more confused by both macro and micro concepts.
  • Some find the responsibility and scope of assignment daunting.
  • Some have never worked on so large a communication project before and need direction to learn the discipline, organization, and confidence needed to finish it.
Teaching Strategies
To make sure that no journal writer is left behind, follow the steps outlined in Activities 1.1 and 1.2. Although time consuming, they help ground students and are of value to all levels of students:
  1. Create multi-levels of support and guidance
    • If possible, develop a web-based copy of assignment, requirements, examples, and models of student work.
    • If not web-based, use ample handouts.
    • Lead an extended class discussion of the assignment.
    • Organize group work as noted in Activity 1.1.
    • Follow-up with an in-class journal response exercise as noted in Activity 1.2.
  2. Collect student work at regular intervals.
    • If Activities 1.1 and 1.2 do not give students confidence, collect work:
      • Weekly at first
      • Every two weeks, then three
      • Slowly allow students to become more responsible for their work and to need less and less observation.
      • Use class time for group work.
      • Show creative as well as prose examples in class to acknowledge and model good work or effort.
If students are reading and interpreting, reflecting, thinking of appropriate and/or creative ways to respond, writing, and confidently turning in their work, they are meeting objectives. Our goals are multiple and outlined earlier, but we should see improved writing in students’ other course work and students who are more confident, creative, and adept at written communication.