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How do the ideas and information to be discussed fit into the course as a whole? What skills, knowledge, perspectives, or sensibilities do you want students to walk away from the discussion with? Your goals for a particular discussion should be consistent with your course objectives and values as an instructor. You might, for example, want students to be able to:. When you can clearly envision the purpose of the discussion, it is easier to formulate stimulating questions and an appropriate strategy for facilitating the discussion.

Communicating your objectives to your students, moreover, helps to focus their thinking and motivate participation. After determining the objectives for your discussion, ask yourself: How will I make sure that students meet these objectives? Plan the discussion out, even if you end up deviating from your plan. Some of the questions to consider when formulating a plan include:. Your answers to these questions will depend on your goals. For example, correcting factual inaccuracies might be critical in some circumstances, less so in others.

Digressions may be productive if your primary purpose is to explore connections, and undesirable if the goal of your discussion is more focused. One of the most important things to consider when formulating a strategy is how to get the discussion jump-started. Davis and Frederick provide a number of excellent suggestions. Good questions are the key to a productive discussion. These include not only the questions you use to jump-start discussion but also the questions you use to probe for deeper analysis, ask for clarification or examples, explore implications, etc.

It is helpful to think about the various kinds of questions you might ask and the cognitive skills they require to answer. Davis lists a range of question types, including:. While you might frame the entire discussion in terms of a Big Question to grapple with, it is a good general strategy to move from relatively simple, convergent questions i. Starting with convergent questions helps discussion participants to establish a base of shared knowledge and builds student confidence; it also gives you, the instructor, the opportunity to correct factual inaccuracies or misconceptions before the discussion moves into greater complexity and abstraction.

Asking a variety of types of questions can also help to model for students the ways that experts use questions to refine their analyses. For example, an instructor might move an abstract discussion to a concrete level by asking for examples or illustrations, or move a concrete discussion to a broader level by asking students to generate a generalization or implication. When instructors are nervous that a discussion might flag, they tend to fall prey to some common questioning errors.

These include:. Asking too many questions at once: Instructors often make the mistake of asking a string of questions together, e.

It's Time You Believe: The Voice That Changed My Life Learning Journal

Do you agree with him? Is his evidence convincing? Did you like this article? Asking a question and answering it yourself: We have all had the experience of asking a question only to encounter blank stares and silence. The temptation under these circumstances is to jump in and answer your own question, if only to relieve the uncomfortable silence. Be careful not to preempt this process by jumping in too early. Failing to probe or explore the implications of answers: One mistake instructors can make in leading a discussion is not to follow up sufficiently on student contributions.

It is important not only to get students talking, but to probe them about their reasoning, ask for evidence, explore the implications of what they say, etc. Follow-up questions push students to think more deeply, to substantiate their claims, and consider the practical impact of particular perspectives. Asking unconnected questions: In the best discussions, there is a logical progression from question to question so that, ultimately, the discussion tells or reveals a story.

When you are planning your discussion questions, think about how they fit together. Ignoring or failing to build on answers: If students do not feel like their voices have weight in discussion, their motivation to participate drops. What would be some possible consequences if this plan of action were followed? Discussions tend to be most productive when they have a clear focus.

It may be helpful to write out a few questions that the discussion will address, and return to those questions periodically. While some lulls in discussion are to be expected while participants are thinking, for example the instructor must be alert to signs such as these that a discussion is breaking down Davis, :. If the discussion seems to be flagging, it can help to introduce a new question or alter the task so as to bring a fresh kind of thinking or a different group dynamic to bear. For example, you might switch from discussing an ethical issue in the abstract to a concrete case study, or shift from large-group discussion to small group or pair-work.

It is important to leave time at the end of the discussion to synthesize the central issues covered, key questions raised, etc. There are a number of ways to synthesize. Synthesizing the discussion is a critical step for linking the discussion to the original learning objectives and demonstrating progress towards meeting those objectives. While students generally enjoy discussions, they may have difficulty recognizing what they gain from participating in them — in contrast with lectures, in which students may take copious notes and have a sense of having covered clearly discernable ground.

It is helpful to tell students up front how you think the skills they gain from participating in discussion will help them in academic and future pursuits. Discussions for this class will give you the opportunity to practice that skill. As we talk, think about a conversation with a colleague in medical school and imagine how you would articulate this argument and suggest a productive fusion of both approaches to medicine.

Below are some strategies that can help encourage meaningful student participation. Plan an icebreaker early in the semester that gets students talking and interacting, preferably while doing an activity that is integral to the content material for the course. Also, create a climate in which students feel comfortable taking intellectual risks: respond to their comments respectfully, even when you correct or challenge them, and make sure perhaps by establishing clear behavioral ground rules that their peers do as well.

Discussions tend to be most productive when students have already done some preparatory work for them. It can be helpful to give assignments to help students to prepare for discussion. Preparatory assignments help students focus their reading and their thinking, thus facilitating a higher-quality discussion. Students are more likely to participate if they feel that they are recognized as individuals.

Start Them Early

Often, students must learn how to enter meaningfully into a discussion. One way to encourage students to engage in the style of intellectual exchange you desire is to model good discussion techniques in your own behavior, using language that demonstrates, among other things:. In the interests of modeling a particular style of intellectual exchange, some instructors invite a colleague to their class and engage in a scholarly discussion or debate for the benefit of their students. On its own, instructor modeling is not likely to affect student behavior, however.

It is also important to explicitly point out the kinds of discussion skills illustrated above and to distinguish high-quality contributions e. Explicit ground rules or guidelines can help to ensure a respectful environment for discussion. The ground rules you use will depend on your class size and goals, but may include provisions such as these:. You can set these ground rules yourself and specify them in your syllabus, or have students help create them.

Click on these links to see examples of ground rules and a template for creating student-generated ground rules. If a subset of students seems reluctant to speak up in class, you might consider ways for them to share their ideas and engage with the material in an alternative forum, such as via discussion board or e-mail. Giving students time to write down their thoughts before opening the floor to discussion can also help quiet students get more involved.

So too can the use of pair-work and small-group discussions. While some faculty are reluctant to call on quiet students for fear of embarrassing them, it should be pointed out that calling on students can also liberate them: not all students who are quiet are shy; they may simply have trouble finding a way into the discussion. Sometimes the problem is not shy students but overly domineering or aggressive students who monopolize discussion. Handling strong emotions and disagreement that arise in a discussion can be a challenge for instructors.

A certain amount of disagreement is desirable, yet if the conversation gets too heated or antagonistic, it can inhibit participation and squelch a productive exchange of ideas. When emotions are high, remind students to focus on ideas and refrain from personal comments this stipulation can be included in your ground rules as well. Also, consider in advance how you will handle sensitive discussion topics. Discussions that do so may not be comfortable for some participants yet still have the desired effect. On the other hand, done poorly such discussions can stifle rather than stimulate engagement and learning.

Also, think about whether the discussion environment in your classroom is sufficiently inclusive of all your students, regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion, religion, etc. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Introduction Written journals have been used in numerous academic disciplines because they are powerful teaching and learning tools that facilitate active learning and encourage reflection Dart and others ; Moon , Each student, as an individual or part of a group, will design and write experimental laboratory protocol, search library and scientific Internet literature for appropriate articles for each experiment, carry out food experiments, write reports, and make class presentations.

Students are required to participate in class discussions and each scheduled laboratory. Because most of the laboratory experiments will involve group work, there will be no way for an individual to make up laboratory work. If you are not in class or the laboratory, you have not participated, and therefore you will be marked absent. Attendance will be taken 5 min after the beginning of class. If you arrive later than 5 min after the class or laboratory has started, you will be marked absent. No journals will be accepted after the due date except under extenuating circumstances.

Your laboratory work area must be clean after you have left for the day. No coat, shoes, or hat, no admittance to lab. All cellular phones and pagers must be turned off during class and laboratory periods. No exceptions. Your contributions to the group will be collected at the beginning of the class period.

From Shyness to Strength

If you need a copy for your group discussion, bring one to turn in and a copy for yourself or your group. There will be no final examination. Late examinations will not be accepted.

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Each student will be required to write two 2 journal entries per week on material relevant or related to FSHN See Academic Journal Information sheet for more information. For written reports, each student will be responsible for writing 3 reports: analysis of a scientific article, sensory evaluation, and 1 detailed experimental report with the assistance of group members. Reports must follow guidelines in Laboratory Report Guidelines. The format for the scientific paper should follow the guidelines for journal analysis.

Short sensory evaluation report. Each student will write up the results of the group's sensory evaluation studies guidelines are included with the experimental procedure. Group reports. Each writer must make photocopies of his or her report and give a copy to each group member and to the TA. Based on the feedback of peers and others, the student writer will then rewrite the report and submit it to the instructor for the final grade 1 wk after receiving feedback.

Comments provided by the group members and the TA along with references used must also be submitted at this time. Final papers submitted over 1 wk past the identified deadline will not be accepted. Requirements for and assessment of journal writing Students are required to write 2 journal entries per week following the guidelines in the syllabus Figure 1.

Figure 1— Open in figure viewer PowerPoint. Guidelines for writing academic journals in an experimental foods class. Figure 2— Open in figure viewer PowerPoint.

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Results and Discussion Assessment of journal writing The assessment rubric Figure 2 was introduced in the Fall class after a less descriptive rubric used the previous year did not provide students with sufficient criteria for fully developing their thoughts in journal entries. Student reaction to journal writing For some students this was the 1st class in which they were required to write academic journals.

In the beginning of the semester, I hated turning in a journal each week; especially when I did not get a perfect score on the journal entry. When I first started to write the journals, I did not elaborate on one idea, but I made sure to talk about a lot of things and fill up at least 1 page. In the 1st wk of class, I found journals to be tedious and very unappealing.

To me, it was just one more thing that had to be done. However, as the weeks went by, I started to grow fonder of writing them, and on a few subjects actually looked forward to it. My attitude changed because of the feedback and positivity sic that I was receiving in the return comments. It began to be fun to see what the reactions would be to my writing. I didn't like the idea of having to write 2 journal entries a week because I was so used to the typical college course where there was no assigned homework.

How could you grade a journal entry? Journal entries are just your thoughts that are scribbled down on paper. I remember doing that most of the time. I would rush and scribble whatever came to mind just to get it done and out of the way. Of course, I got one's and two's on most of those. What is that supposed to mean? It was actually enjoyable. I must admit though that writing these journals was not easy at first. I can honestly say that I spent at least 1 h trying to organize my ideas to write a satisfactory journal that tuned out to be a journal that gave me a score of 3 or 2.

At first, I had difficulty organizing my thoughts and supplying strong development and evidence for my thoughts. I dreaded doing these journals in the beginning of the semester because it was such a daunting task for me. However, the more and more I did it as well as the feedback I got from the instructors helped me to understand what I needed to work on and how to write a better journal entry. I am now able to write a good quality journal that supplies substantial content demonstrating strong development of my ideas and comprehension of topics.

As I look back now, my first journal entries were choppy. There was no voice, no personality, no beliefs, no feelings attached. This entry came from the heart. It reflected my philosophy of life. It shows an intellectual process. And the grade reflects the quality. Suddenly, I knew what these journal entries were about how I thought and felt about the academic process.

From then the journal entries became a joy and a revelation. It was truly fun to sit down for an hour and contemplate something like whom I respected in life…It was fun writing what came from the heart. Writing journal entries was a good way for me to communicate to the professor any problems or concerns I had throughout the semester, such as feeling uneasy about my lab reports, or having difficulties with my group members.

I actually enjoyed looking back at my journal entries written throughout the semester. It was nice to have a place where I could write my feelings on different issues without being apprehensive for being judged and criticized. In these journals, it was actually encouraged to be open about differing opinions and views.

That is not always the case when doing activities such as this for class. Oftentimes, I feel that I have to be careful and watch my words in such assignments. I was slightly hesitant in my first few entries, but as the class went on I felt more comfortable voicing my ideas.

This can be seen especially in my openness about why I did not finish the 2nd midterm. Sometimes, I would sit in front of the computer wondering what I should write. This was because I was not thinking and reflecting on what had happened in class and in lab. I would know that facts, what we did and what kind of outcomes we had, but I was not thinking in depth to find out the causes behind it. Therefore, writing the journals make me not only digest what I have been learning in class, but also my way of thinking and my ability of organizing ideas.

Learning Through Reflection

I realized how important to stop a moment and reflect on the learning process that took place. I sometimes become too focused on completing the tasks. Therefore, taking some time to think and write my journals help me understand better of what I learned and what I need to prepare for the coming lab and class. The most valuable lessons learned from writing these journals was my learning how to think about what I learned in class, from others, in books, and myself.

I learned to not passively agree with everything, but must actively make decisions. These skills have been useful to me in my other classes and in everyday life. I now can see things differently instead of from only one angle. I try to be more open in what others think and feel and try to understand things before I make a decision or exert my thoughts and opinions.

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I also found these journals helpful because they helped me understand class material a little more thoroughly. Rather than writing reactions on certain topics, I was writing about problems and confusion I encountered in this class. Also, theories and the basic concepts of food was becoming a lot more clear to me so I had a better understanding of the material. I could now give my own ideas and suggestions with evidence to support them. All of the journals reflected my opinions of each of the subjects discussed in this class.

By writing them journals after each class period, I learned to think more about what happened in class. Also, a lot of ideas and questions came to mind that you wouldn't have thought about if you hadn't written about the subject. Journal writing as a process to develop and practice thinking about the content Another purpose of using journals in this class was to have students practice thinking critically about the subject matter. Before taking this course, I never was so hung up on thing to consciously evaluate myself on the way I think about things. I feel that I have become a lot more critical on my critical thinking, if that makes any sense.

It's like I have to think before I think, to make sure that my thinking is good enough in the first place. The big drawback to that is that I tend to get into a panic zone when I do that, which freezes up my brain. So, when I find myself being too critical on myself, I try to force myself to loosen up. Believe it or not, I have gained critical thinking skills. I notice it in when I communicate. I do not always take things at face value anymore; rather I start thinking about the process and ask myself if what I just heard was clear. If not, I ask for a clarification; whereas, before I wouldn't have even bothered to do so.

It does make me feel good that I am improving myself. At the end of the journal writing, I was able to find discrepancies and ambiguities instead of simply recording my thought and feelings. I was able to think deeper about why things are not always so black and white, right or wrong. One of the beneficial results of writing journals was that it forced me to slow down my thoughts so that I became very aware of what I was writing.

This allowed me to think about how I felt, causing me to not jump to conclusions as fast as I usually do. I tend to form my opinion before I get all the facts or before looking at the situation from other perspectives. I hope that I will get into the habit of becoming a better listener and observer. My mind likes to work quickly in an effort for efficiency, but instead results are counter productive. Instead of truly listening to a point being made, I use that time to think about my own opinions. I miss the point of the person and my decisions fail to benefit from the other person's perspective.

Writing may not be the same as having a conversation because I deal only with my thoughts, but it has helped me to stall my conclusions. Far from the end, but at least a start. Reading through all of the entries starting from the beginning of the semester helped me see that I had really changed in the way I looked at things. I noticed that in the beginning of the semester, my writing was mostly summarizing events, class discussions, and laboratory experiments.

However, as the semester progressed, it sees as though I started to look at things more critically. Instead of just looking at something and describing it, I looked at it, thought abut why it might be that way, and what might be done to fix or improve it. In the last journal entry, I even started to look at my own life more critically. It is seldom that a class can teach you more than what is found in a textbook. It seems that textbooks today just presents the students with facts, and the class simply tests how well you are able to memorize material.

FSHN was a very different class for me. This class has allowed me to learn about myself. This is more than I could have ever expected from a class. I have documented this semester of learning through a compilation of journals. When I look back at all the journals, what enlightens me is the fact that I have learned something about myself in each and every journal. I think that the biggest lesson that I have learned through journals is the results are a product of the amount of effort you put in and that it is up to the individual to put in the effort required to produce the desired result.

Throughout the semester I have learned about group dynamics. Eventually, I decided that I would have to make an effort to change myself since I can't change other people so that the desired result of group cohesion could take place. I think that all classes should require journals so that an individual stays in touch with himself or herself. It teaches people lessons that you can't learn in the classroom, it's the lesson of knowing yourself.

These journals were like therapy and forced you to take time out and think about yourself and how you're growing and changing. It's almost like an early midlife crisis just in time to make changes before the rest of your life passes you by. I'm appreciative of the chance to think about things other than academics. It's a nice break to reflect on things that will last longer than facts. The things you learn about yourself will stay with you forever and you can change yourself hopefully for the better. At first, I admit I did not pay much attention to the handouts that were given.

I skimmed over them, not thinking about how I could apply it to my own learning and progress. It was the handout on the General Learner Outcome that really got me to reflect on how an article written for any reader could have been so perfectly written for me personally.

This article helped me make sense of the frustrations I felt at the time toward my parents. It makes me stop and think about where my anger should be directed and that I alone am responsible for my learning. Similar to the course objectives where food was not always the topic at hand, my journals often strayed to topics closer to heart rather than discussing what went on in that week's lab.

Looking back through my journals, I realize that it is not a collection of class events, but a reflection of my growth and insight of this past semester. I can see the changes that I made to become a better student, daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, and employee as the semester progressed. I want to end on a quote that is at the end of Hardwiring Guide.

I can now, hopefully, overcome my emotionally driven reactions when faced with certain events, and think thoroughly through it, and come to a more pleasant conclusion. Evaluation of journal worth to students At the conclusion of the semester, the last requirement for the journal assignment was for the student to write an evaluation of the worth of writing journals.

Now that all of the journals have been completed with comments from the instructors and TA's, I can now see that although the journals took some of my time every week it is a writing intensive course , I only benefited from the thoughts, and reflections that it allowed me to express as well as the valuable and constructive feedback that was given.

Reading through the journals again, I have realized that this class has taught me a lot about others as well as about myself and my personal growth. In my mind, I have always known myself to have certain characteristic traits that show or reflect my personality, but I do not always know how they are reflected to others. As I had predicted these journal entries have been a major stressor in my life this semester. I realize that only one page per topic need be submitted by my writers block just won't subside.

However, I found these papers to help open me up and realize some things about myself, even though I did not share these thoughts in writing. I am a rather private person and some things are just no one else's business. A reoccurring comment throughout my entries is that I need to elaborate, give examples, and more supporting sentences. I agree. I know this my problem. It always has been. It takes me hours to fill a whole page. I feel like I am saying the same thing over and over again.

Never in a thousand years would I have expected to appreciate and actually enjoy a writing assignment. These academic weekly journals have benefited my learning more than I could have imagined. It helps me reflect on the daily events in class and realize many facets to my work. From the initial difficulties to lessons learned from each class experience, these journals have brought to my attention many realizations.

Overall, I feel that the time that was put into creating this academic journal is worth a lot. At times I may have felt frustrated writing journal entries and forgot the purpose of the assignment, however, without realizing it, I have actually gained some experience from this. Writing journal entries on a weekly basis really challenged my level of critical thinking skills. It forced me to analyze the main topic of each journal entry and explore my ideas, thoughts, concepts, and so on. It forced me to practice on improving my level of thinking to higher scale and work on problem solving techniques.

Of course, group work gave me endless opportunities for conflict resolution and problem solving. Simply putting the situation down on paper helped me see things I did not notice while it was occurring, such as the possibility that I was too impatient with [group member's name], taking myself way too seriously, and not having much fun in the beginning. Looking at what you have written makes you think more deeply about what it is you are trying to say, you cannot just rattle off some inanity off the top of your head. Both of us mentioned how we had struggled, though our class loads seem to be lighter.

For some reason the conversation progressed to journal entries. We each had an enlightening moment when we realized that the process of writing the journal had stirred the pot. Both of us were dealing with emotions caused by spending time thinking about values, visions, hopes, and dreams. While she spent the semester struggling with who she wants to be, my search was more about relationships and who I do not want to become.

These are difficult questions. Contemplation of such makes one grow intellectually. As the semester closes I have been missing writing weekly entries. Maybe writing my thoughts will become a life long pursuit. Insights on obtaining quality journal assignments Academic journal assignments have been required in all of my Iwaoka's food science classes for over the past 15 y Iwaoka ; Iwaoka and Dong ; Iwaoka and others