Dyment & O’Connell (2014). When the Ink Runs Dry: Implications for Theory and Practice When Educators Stop Keeping Reflective Journals.

Dyment, J. E., & O’Connell, T. S. (2014). When the Ink Runs Dry: Implications for Theory and Practice When Educators Stop Keeping Reflective Journals. Innovative Higher Education, 39(5), 417-429. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-014-9291-6

“Popularized through Schön’s (1983) The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action, educators have used a number of methods to encourage reflection including eportfolios, discussion boards, blogging, and tutorials.” (p 418)

“… we interpreted a reflective journal to be an integrative one in [page break] which the writers critically analyse and grapple with theory, practice, and connections between theory and practice. Importantly, a reflective journal extends beyond the narrower focus of other types of journals by encouraging the writer to take a holistic view of their experience.” (p 418-419)

“The benefits to writers include offering a record of experiences and personal growth (Spalding & Wilson, 2002), making connections among various parts of the writers’ lives (Hiemstra, 2001; Moon, 2006), and enabling writers to connect theory to practice (O’Connell & Dyment, 2013). This happens through metacognitive activities that result in an understanding of current experiences in relation to one’s beliefs, values, and existing knowledge (Colley, Bilics, & Lerch, 2012). Cornish and Cantor (2008) identified further benefits: writers recognize that meaningful learning necessitates thinking, they are able to track learning and growth over time, their individual self-assessment skills improve, they are able to take control of their own learning, and they can deconstruct their values and beliefs. Mills (2008) also noted that reflective journals permit writers to become more engaged and active in the learning process.” (p 419)

“… lack of specific guidelines (Anderson, 1992; Thorpe, 2004); minimal or no structure such as prompts, entry length, or number of entries made (Stewart & Richardson, 2000); and concerns about confidentiality (Ghaye, 2011) have been identified in the literature as challenges to using journals as a reflective tool.” (p 419)

“Although the levels and complexities of particular types of reflection differ from model to model, there is general consensus that the fundamental levels of reflective thinking are predominantly descriptive and that the higher, multifarious levels of reflection critique, analyse, and consider multiple viewpoints. The ideal expectation is that at the highest level of reflection, writers experience changes in behaviour, appropriate knowledge as their own, and experience a transformation of perspectives (Wong, Kember, Chung, & Yan, 1995).” (p 420)

“The general sentiment was that the deep learning and reflection came from the actual writing process, not from the revisiting and rereading. Andrew explained ‘I don’t necessarily go back and read over them…the learning came from taking the time to stop and write and internalize the lesson.'” (p 422)

“… temporal importance of using reflective journals in professional practice …” (p 424)

“Thompson and Pascal (2012) argued that this approach can be seen as: ‘Short sighted, in so far as it fails to recognize an important principle of reflective practice that we would wish to propose, namely that the busier we are, the more reflective we need to be…. the more pressure we are under, the clearer we need to be about what we are doing, why we are doing it, what knowledge is available to help us do it to best effect….’ (p. 320)” (p 425)

“The educators we interviewed not only highlighted the significance of reflecting-in-action and reflecting-on-action as championed by Schön (1983); they also underscored the importance of reflecting-for-action and reflecting-with-action that, as noted by Ghaye (2011), are for the purpose of betterment and positive, purposeful action in the future.” (p 425)

“Perhaps the roles of coursebased assessment, teaching portfolios, peer reviews of teaching, and the scholarship of teaching and learning need to be explored further for their potential contributions to promoting reflection as an ongoing aspect of faculty development.” (p 425)

Selected references

  • Anderson, J. (1992). Journal writing: The promise and the reality. Journal of Reading, 36, 304-309.
  • Colley, B. M., Bilics, A. R., & Lerch, C. M. (2012). Reflection: A key component to thinking critically. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(1), Article 2. Retreived from http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cjsotl_rcacea/vol3/iss1/2
  • Cornish, M. M., & Cantor, P. A. (2008). “Thinking about thinking: It’s not just for philosophers”: Using metacognitive journals to teach and learn about constructivism. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 29, 326-339.
  • Ghaye, T. (2011). Teaching and learning through reflective practice (2nd ed.). London, England: Routledge.
  • Hiemstra, R. (2001). Uses and benefits of journal writing. In L.M. English &M. A. Gillen (Eds.), New directions for adult and continuing education: Promoting journal writing in adult education, 90 (pp. 19-26). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Mills, R. (2008). “It’s just a nuisance”: Improving college student reflective journal writing. College Student Journal, 42, 684-690.
  • Moon, J. A. (2006). Learning journals (2nd ed.). London, England: Routledge.
  • O’Connell, T. S., & Dyment, J. E. (2013). Theory into practice: Unlocking the power and the potential of reflective journals. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.
  • Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Spalding, E., & Wilson, A. (2002). Demystifying reflection: A study of pedagogical strategies that encourage reflective journal writing. Teachers College Record, 104, 1393-1421.
  • Stewart, S., & Richardson, B. (2000). Reflection and its place in the curriculum on an undergraduate course: Should it be assessed? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 25, 369-380.
  • Thompson, N., & Pascal, J. (2012). Developing critically reflective practice. Reflective Practice, 13, 311-325.
  • Thorpe, K. (2004). Reflective learning journals: From concept to practice. Reflective Practice, 5, 327-343.
  • Wong, F. K. Y., Kember, D., Chung, L. Y. F., & Yan, L. (1995). Assessing levels of reflection from reflective journals. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22, 48-57.
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