Challenges

  • Journal reflections completed at lower levels of reflection (Wessel and Larin, 2006) – need to engage students in reflecting at higher levels
  • Could be viewed as a time consuming process by many students who are pre-occupied with their studies and are coping with work demands. Thus, we can allot an in-class time for students to engage in journal reflections (Walker, 2006).
  • Need to create an environment of trust for journal writing to flourish.
  • Personal reflection may be experienced as a problematic and not a comfortable task because self-reflection and self-assessment may have the capacity to ignite speculation for need for improvement (Burnard, 1995). In the same vein, Dewey (1910) argues that reflective engagement can be strenuous at times because it requires judgement which may cause “mental unrest and disturbance” (p. 14).
  • Grammar and formatting should not be the focus of students’ attention when engaging in free-style journal reflective writing. The methodology of how they write should not concern them but rather what and why they reflect on specific topics.
  • Journal writing should be a safe space for students to engage in free expression. How can students be assigned a grade for own feelings, thoughts and interpretations of experiences? If a grade is assigned then instructors need to identify clear, measurable expectations and objectives. Some instructors give a percentage (e.g. 10%) to the completion of journal reflections in order to encourage students to write in a thorough and meaningful way (Williams, et. al., 2002; Hahnemann, 1986).