Reflective Journaling is going to be a big part of my course for the next two years, and although I am familiar with the concept, I don’t believe I know how to do it well, so I have undertaken a mini research project to increase my understanding of the genre, and the expectations of academic students when it comes to reflective journaling.
My first stop was the Thinkspace Blog of a fellow student, known only as Linda (Linda’s Lunatic Fringe, 2017), which gave me some insight into the balance of formality, as an academic piece of work, and informality, as a blog post. Her style includes the occasional emoticon, frequent abbreviations and less formal language than an academic essay, but still retains referencing conventions and a degree of academic rigour. I then went on to read a report (designed for academics) about student reflective journals and learning logs, where it was cited that many students retain an informal style when using reflective journals, and clear standards should be set to define expectations to avoid misunderstandings (Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Centre, n.d.). As yet, I do not know if I will be penalised for my current, less formal posts. I am hoping that the additional posts are acceptable as long as my assessable posts are formal enough and meet referencing guidelines.
I also read Tara’s Reflective Journal (Tara, 2017) which was quite different from Linda’s (above) as it used many more first person pronouns, and a lot less referencing. This was also reflected in Kimberley’s Learning Journal (Kimberley, 2017). It would be helpful to know which of these (or the other students) is doing well, so I have a clear indication of the level of formality expected. Personally, I would anticipate that first person pronouns are acceptable in a reflective journal, but I could be mistaken there.
The UNSW site (n.d.) provided some interesting examples of different styles of reflective writing across faculties and disciplines, and I believe that their definition of a reflective journal best meets the expectations of me as a Library and Information Science student. Their definition is “Journal: requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content.” (University of New South Wales, n.d., para 1).
On the balance of what I have read in current student blog posts, I’ve found that a mix of first person pronouns and academic references seems to be the appropriate standard.
However, I have read other non-academic sources on journaling (with the focus being on insight, or self-awareness) that suggest that journaling too frequently can actually be counter-productive. Pennebaker (cited in Eurich, 2017, p 116) and colleagues found that writing every few days to every week is more beneficial than daily journaling (something I’m obviously not taking on board in my excitement!). In the future, I would like to set aside specific times of the week to write in my reflective journal and complete assigned journal tasks. At this stage, I would like to set those times as Mondays and Fridays, although (depending on as yet unforeseen factors) that may have to change.
Eurich, T. 2017. Insight. The power of self-awareness in a self-deluded world. Pan Macmillan: London.
Kimberley. 2017. Kimberley’s learning journal. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/kimberley/
Linda. 2017. Linda’s lunatic fringe. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/lindamch/
Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Centre. No date. Reflective journals and learning logs. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/facdev/_pdf/guide/assessment/reflective_journals%20and_learning_logs.pdf
Tara. 2017. Tara’s Reflective Journal. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/taramorriswagner/
University of New South Wales. (No date). Examples of reflective writing. Retrieved from https://student.unsw.edu.au/examples-reflective-writing