Independent of your regular lecture notes, we ask that you keep an active journal
(in a bound notebook or in a loose-leaf, three-ring, or other binder), with
an average of at least one significant entry per week. We will suggest topics
for you to write about on roughly a weekly basis, usually on Thursdays. You
should hand in your weekly entry the following Tuesday. The journal will be
worth 6% of your course grade.
What is the purpose of the Reflective Journal assignment?
- To capture your perception of the subject matter, your problem-solving skills,
and your cooperative learning skills, and to track changes in them over the
course of the semester.
- To encourage you to assess your own, your groupmates', and your instructors'
learning strategies, processes and behaviors during the course. (We want you
to practice looking at yourself and others as learners objectively.)
- To reflect on your self-assessments, evaluate yourself as a learner, identify
areas that you would like to improve, and assess, reflect upon, and evaluate
your efforts to improve.
What should you include in your weekly journal?
We will generally ask you to address specific questions each week. However,
in general you will do the following:
- Reflect on specific positive experiences and on specific challenges or
difficulties that you encountered while working in cooperative groups. For
- Cite specific examples of your groupmates' and/or your own behavior
that you think contributed constructively to your group's cooperative
efforts. Such behavior could include questions initiated by group members
(including yourself) and/or responses that show how group members fulfilled
their responsibilities as role players or stakeholders in the earth science
problem under consideration; encouraging or supportive responses to proposed
ideas; constructive criticism of an idea rather than the proposer of the
idea; connections made to topics covered earlier in the course; prodding
the group back on task if it wanders off it; etc.
- Cite specific examples of any behaviors that you will not tolerate.
Such unproductive behaviors might include frequent interruptions; disparagement
of another's idea; wandering off task; nonparticipation, including silence
and absence; superficial or otherwise inadequate contributions to group
research and writing efforts; etc.
- Comment on the extent to which each member of the group followed or
did not follow your group's ground rules.
- Reflect on specific monitoring, intervention, summarizing and feedback
strategies that the instructors used to help your group improve its performance.
- Considering not only cooperative problem-solving activities but also other
teaching strategies used by the instructors, identify things that you felt
worked well and things that did not work well. For things that didn't work
well, think of how you might do things differently next time, and suggest
practical modifications, strategies or models that might help you or your
group learn better. Think of instructional resources and techniques that might
help you generate more or better ideas or design better action plans and that
might help you learn more effectively (for example, using physical models,
hands-on manipulations, visuals, graphs/charts, field trips, instructional
technology/computer software, projects, etc.).
- Each time that you turn in your journal for evaluation and feedback, summarize
and evaluate your own sense of progress to date learning the subject matter,
reseaching and solving problems, and working in cooperative groups.
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