Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education

Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education

Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education

Promoting Journal Writing in Adult Education


Exploring the potential for personal growth and learning through journal writing for student and mentor alike, this volume aims to establish journal writing as an integral part of the teaching and learning process. With examples of how journal writing can be, and has been, integrated into educational areas as diverse as health education, higher education, education for women, and English as a Second Language, the contributors demonstrate ways that adult educators can play a role in using journal writing to enhance reflection in learning. It also examines ways that journal writing can blur the boundaries between personal and professional, and raises practical and ethical issues about the use and place of journal writing in a variety of settings. This is the 90th issue of the Jossey-Bass series New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education.


Journals promote reflection on experience. This chapter
examines features of journal writing that aid reflective
practice and circumstances inhibiting their use for this

David Boud

Adult educators write journals for many different reasons prompted by many different purposes. We may want to capture an experience, record an event, explore our feelings, or make sense of what we know. We may want to narrate something of importance so that others can see what we saw in it. Sometimes we write primarily for ourselves, sometimes for others. Journal writing is as varied as those who engage in it.

Journal writing can be viewed through many different lenses: as a form of self-expression, a record of events, or a form of therapy. It can be a combination of these and other purposes. In this chapter, I examine journal writing through the lens of learning. I present it as a form of reflective practice, that is, as a device for working with events and experiences in order to extract meaning from them. This perspective views the various forms of journal writing as ways of making sense of the world and how we operate within it. Journal writing can be used to enhance what we do and how we do it. As a vehicle for learning, it can be used in formal courses, our professional practice, or any aspect of informal learning.

In her discussion of using journals in learning through reflection, Moon (1999a, pp. 188–194) identifies many purposes of writing journals in addition to those already mentioned—for example:

“To deepen the quality of learning, in the form of critical thinking or devel
oping a questioning attitude”

“To enable learners to understand their own learning process”

“To increase active involvement in learning and personal ownership of

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