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Journaling Across Cultures

Tool Objectives: 
  1. To record meaningful experiences and reflections, and to see writing as a tool for cultural exploration and self-discovery.
  2. To integrate experiences and reflections into academic learning and personal growth.
  3. To understand that writing is not just a tool for displaying knowledge but also for acquiring knowledge.
Tool Description: 

Requiring students to keep a journal is a widely used teaching strategy because it helps students record their learning experiences, documents learning and growth, and helps students cope with intercultural adjustment.  The journal is structured to encourage students to record thoughts and events experienced in the course, and also to reflect on them in the context of global citizenship and academic development.

Tool Procedures: 
  1. The assignment should be described in the course syllabus and should contribute to the course grade. Students should be given the assignment description preferably a few weeks before the international travel component.  Explain the required structure for the journal (three sections), the evaluation frequency and criteria, and the top ten tips for effective journaling.
  2. The frequency for grading the journals will depend on the course length and structure of the in-country itinerary.  Determine dates periodically throughout the semester when the journals will be due. 
  3. When grading journals, give an evaluative grade as well as written feedback. At the end of the course, students should turn in their journals for a final evaluation.
  4. Facilitate students’ involvement with journaling by allocating time in the day for the task and by pointing out events, experiences and comments/questions that students may later want to record in their journals.
  5. An excellent resource for supplemental reading on analytical writing in study abroad is Wagner and Magistrale’s, Writing Across Culture: An Introduction to Study Abroad and the Writing Process (1995).
  6. Optional:  When technology is available, consider allowing students to keep an electronic journal. (Also see Tool 6, Blog Abroad.)
Tool Evaluation: 

Journals should be reviewed and graded at least once before the international travel component and then periodically during the time abroad.  When appropriate, students should be requested to make post-trip journal entries.  At each reading, assign an evaluative grade to each section as well as providing written feedback. When the journal is submitted for final evaluation, calculate a quantitative grade considering that evaluative grade.     

Tool Time Requirement: 

Approximately 20-30 minutes required for explanation of assignment (pre-departure)

Tool Author(s): 

Adapted by D. Morais & A. Ogden, 2009 from Paige, R., et al. (2006). Maximizing Study Abroad (2nd Edition). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota.

Tool Handouts [.doc or .docx]: 

Site copyright 2012, University of Kentucky, Education Abroad.
Toolkit Authors: Duarte Morais, Ph.D., Anthony C. Ogden, Ph.D., & Christine Buzinde, Ph.D.
More information about the toolkit authors.

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