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ERIC Number: ED545842
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 303
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-2675-6388-0
Dropped into the Deep End: A Study of Personal Journals in First-Year Composition
Wester, Jason Michael
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
This study investigated the lived experiences of first-year college students who kept personal and private journals in an English composition course. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of the lived experiences of keeping those journals from the point-of-view of the journal writers themselves. Forty-eight students were involved in the journal writing assignment, of which thirteen participated in this study. The research question addressed in this study was what do students experience when they keep a personal and private journal in the context of an English composition course? The literature about journals showed them to be adaptable to many different educational purposes and classroom contexts. Journal are employed across grade levels, across disciplines, and they are put to many different purposes. This study investigated student experiences with writing in journals in a composition course. The journals were unread by the instructor, and students decided what to write about. The data collected in this study were primarily interviews that addressed participants lived experiences with journal writing. Secondarily, this study used the students' journals themselves. Analysis of the interviews revealed ten essential themes. Those ten themes provided the evidence used to describe student experiences with an unstructured journal writing assignment. Participants found it difficult to adapt to the open-ended nature of the assignment. They saw the assignment as hard work. Some participants found that journal writing gave them much needed practice with writing, while others found journal writing to be a continuous practice that they kept going well after the course had ended. Most participants practiced reflection, metacognition, and critical thinking in an ongoing conversation with multiple selves. For others, writing in a journal had a therapeutic effect because it helped manage problems. Keeping a journal brought a strong sense of ownership of the journal. Participants described a dual experience of using the journal as a safe place to record personal thoughts, yet writing down those thoughts was a risk in that another person could read the journal. Journal writing, for the participants of this study, was a complex activity that yielded many benefits as well as many frustrations. Once participants acclimated to the assignment, most found it to be a rewarding experience that yielded improved results not only in writing, but in coping with the problems of everyday living. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A