Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 233–244 | Cite as

The Quality of Reflection in Student Journals: A Review of Limiting and Enabling Factors

  • Janet E. DymentEmail author
  • Timothy S. O’Connell


Although reflective journals are widely used across many disciplines in higher education, the research that examines their use presents an unclear picture of the quality of reflection found in them. Some research reveals that student journals contain primarily deeply reflective entries. Yet other research presents a less optimistic perspective, finding that a majority of student journals contain mostly descriptive accounts of events, with little to no critical reflection present. In this article, we seek to explore these conflicting results and identify a series of factors that may limit or enable high quality reflection in student journals. Such factors are clarity of expectations, training, responses, assessments, relationships with the lecturer, and developing the practice. We draw upon our reading of the literature, our multi-phase research project on journal writing, and reflections on our own teaching practice.

Key words

journal writing reflection training limiting factors enabling factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Recreation and Leisure StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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