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A journal is similar to a blog in that it is a platform or website where authors write reflective, critical articles (also called posts or entries.) Blogs and journals are generally used to assess similar things, so the terms are often used interchangeably.

The key difference is that, in typical “diary-style”, journals are usually authored by one student, whereas blogs may be authored by multiple students.

Typically used to…. 

…… assess students’ critical thinking and reflective writing skills.  A reflective journal encourages students to reflect, comment on and monitor their own journey or personal development over time. Because of this, it typically involves posting multiple entries over a period of time. 

This form of assessment also encourages students to consider a range of perspectives and to write critically about what they have learned. (Posts should ideally be critically reflective, rather than purely descriptive.) It encourages students to demonstrate their analytical skills, creativity and writing skills.  

Key considerations when using reflective journals for assessment  

Journaling is typically used to capture moments of reflection across a period of time which may be used to review or assess development or progress across a module or programme. If you are using a journal as part of your assessment strategy, keep the following points in mind:

  • What is the purpose of the journal? Is a journal the most appropriate way to assess student learning outcomes in this instance? Are you intending to use the journal for formative or summative assessment purposes, or both?
  • What criteria will you use to assess the journal?
  • For example, will you use quantitative criteria (e.g. number or length of posts) or qualitative criteria, or both?
  • Have you provided students with a rubric?
  • Does the rubric align with the relevant learning outcomes?
  • Will you set requirements regarding where students host their journal?
  • For example, in the institutional VLE or a third party platform?
  • Will the journal be private (where only the student author(s) and lecturer/examiner can view it) or will students be encouraged to make journal entries public, allowing peer students to view/review their entries?
  • Encourage your students to create a timeline for writing and posting their journal entries. It can be tempting to leave them until the last minute but this should be avoided!
  • Remember that your students may not have set up or posted to a journal before. Check what institutional supports and guides are provided for this and share with your students in advance


Trinity-supported tools:  


Blackboard: Blackboard Journals  

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