Requiring students to keep journals is a most valuable teaching and learning tool. Student writing can be more than a way that we justify the grades we give students at the end of each term. Writing is a multi-functional tool that can be used not only for evaluation but also for teaching and learning. In using writing for teaching and learning, we help our students develop analytical, critical thinking, and organizational skills that will help them be successful. Requiring students to keep journals is just such a tool. In addition, it helps achieve the SDSU Lead Forward Goal of making students communication-able. Journaling can also help achieve a second Lead Forward Goal, that of student retention. Journals open a door to a personal connection between the teacher and the student that provides opportunities both to assist students in their academic lives and to serve as mentors. Britton et al. (1975, Chap. 6) have identified three types of writing in which students engage: transactional, expressive, and poetic. Transactional writing involves full and explicit communication. It is used to inform, persuade or instruct people. Our students usually utilize transactional writing either in essay examination questions or in term papers. The student communicates what has been learned in the course or in his or her research. I use both essay exams and term papers in my classroom to evaluate how well students have understood the content of the class. The problem with essay examinations and term papers is in the notion that "they are used to evaluate how well students have understood the content of the class." Both activities assume that they have understood the material. Transaction writing is the basis for final evaluation, not really a process for getting to the point of mastering the material.
South Dakota State University
Copyright 2004 South Dakota State University
Lonowski, Delmar, "Journaling as a Teaching and Learning Tool" (2004). Bush Project Anthology. 2.