Journal Writing and Adult Learning Essay

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Journal Writing and Adult Learning

The value of journal writing to a course with adult students cannot be overemphasized. (Sommer 1989, p. 115)

Journals and diaries have a long history as a means of self-expression. Several themes prevalent in adult learning--coming to voice, developing the capacity for critical reflection, and making meaning--are reflected in the way journals can be used in adult education. Journals are useful learning tools in a variety of adult education settings. Dialog journals, for example, have become popular in adult literacy and English as a second language classrooms. This digest focuses on several types of journals, exploring their value in assisting adults through their learning journey and summarizing
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Examples from Schatzberg-Smith (1989), Oaks (1995), and Clark (1994) illustrate the wide range of learner levels and applications. Adult students in community colleges who are academically underprepared (Schatzberg-Smith 1989) use them to record their study habits and attitudes; through journal dialog with a more academically skilled adult, they receive support, insight, and feedback; learn to connect the abstract and the concrete; and develop metacognitive strategies they will need for higher education.

Distance learners lack the physical presence of co-learners for dialog and collaboration. At Empire State College (Oaks 1995), a structured learning journal replicates for distance learners many of the functions of a collaborative writing group. The learners are given specific questions that stimulate their journal entries and reinforce their movement through the writing process. In a sense, the journal substitutes self-dialog for communal discourse.

Clark (1994) explains how structured learning journals further the goals of experiential learning for gerontology students preparing to work on interdisciplinary health care teams. The ongoing developmental dialog in their journals is expressed through three types of entries: (1) observational notes, with little interpretation; (2) theoretical notes that attempt to make meaning of the observations and experiences; and
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