HIEBERT, Sara M.; Swarthmore College: Using Learning Journals in the Biology Classroom

Learning journals can be an effective pedagogical tool that benefits both faculty and their students. In this presentation, I will describe a simple weekly assignment that 1) helps students review the material covered in class continually so that they can reduce the need for cramming before the exam, 2) requires students to reflect on their learning process so that they are more likely to replace previously held incorrect notions with better understanding, and 3) in conjunction with web-based discussion boards, gives students a forum for asking (and answering) questions about the material. As a teacher, I have found learning journals to be an invaluable tool for assessing the outcomes of classroom activities and discovering what misunderstandings students bring to the course. Student evaluations of the assignment, collected from questionnaires distributed at mid-term and at the end of the course, indicate that the majority of students found the assignment helpful.