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The Effectiveness of Journal Writing
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Journal writing is as old as written expression and it plays as important a role today in developing student writing as it always has. It is also a mechanism for an instructor to gage the depths of an individual student's understanding. This rich and long-running tradition need not be proven here (see Resources).
To get nontraditional students to buy into journal writing takes time and energy and the “creative” approach outlined in this module leads to increased participation. It engages student interest and allows for both the imaginative student and those who may doubt their creativity to express themselves without fear of being castigated for not expressing themselves “correctly.” This approach emphasizes creativity and quantity and deemphasizes spelling and grammar errors. The logic beneath this emphasis is simple: writing proficiency is a matter of practice. The more a student writes and wants to write, the better a writer he or she becomes.

Of course, this applies to all disciplines. Although the emphasis of this module is the development of a creative journal assignment that could be applied to any course across the curriculum, other benefits besides written expression accrue. Students’ responses reveal their imaginative engagement with texts and illustrate their general understanding of assignments, specific readings, and class discussions. Finally, they show students’ grasp of the discipline in a way standardized tests do not.

Relevance to Academia and Industry
The importance of clear, clean communication cannot be over emphasized. As the bedrock of academic discourse and industrial management, clear expression allows us to understand each other. Without clear understanding, ideas cannot be properly heard, discussed, accepted, or implemented. Beyond fostering clear, clean writing, due to its breadth and depth, this assignment also develops a number of other essential skills, including the ability to:
  • Ask questions
  • Understand directions
  • Follow Directions
  • Analyze
  • Respond imaginatively to choices
  • Take chances
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Meet deadlines
  • Meet requirements
  • Instigate self-directed work
  • Participate in group work
  • Suggestions for Journal Responses by Andrea J. Kaston - The list of her twenty creative journal assignments
  • Resources - Bibliography, Websites, and Alternative Lesson Plans
  • Journal Web Site - Developed by the module author that includes a sample assignment, table of contents and student models of each of Kaston's twenty journal responses
Learning Sections (Subtopics)
  • Making Journal Entries
  • Making a Table of Contents