The need for this assessment is to increase student learning through providing clearer journal expectations for my course.
The necessity for change is to reduce student and instructor frustration. I want to provide clear criteria, structure, and direction but offer flexibility to adapt their own style.
A checklist was created with the purpose to reduce students complaints, help students find success earlier, and help them find the value in journalling. This will be assessed with both anectodal responses, end of the semester surveys, and overall journal scores. I provided the check list, broke down the process with the class, gave individual feedback and provided examples of successful journal entries.
I graded journals and found students who followed the checklist received more credit than previous semesters, journals were easier to assess, and I heard fewer complaints over grading. End of the semester student surveys also showed they valued journals more than in the past. Also, I spoke with 3-4 former students this semester and they each said the expectations from the fall class helped them tremendously this Spring.
After two semesters of using the checklist, I will definitely continue to make this the norm, yet I found that students would often skip the Q&A sections of conversations in their journal. Thus, I have added that criteria into the checklist. I did observe a drop in analysis in journals as the class turns to a more application focus. I intend to take time to revisit the checklist with students and explain how it still applies to the application style activities.
As evidenced in multiple CATS written about journaling in STEM, faculty from chemistry, physics, calculus, and biology utilize journals to improve students' deeper level of learning. Critical thinking skills and written communication skills (EMCC ILOs) are important in STEM. I want to ensure my students leave my own course ready and prepared for the other STEM courses. Also, these journals are used to asses physics' classroom learning outcomes. Please see attached documents for sample survey results and journal entries.