Critical Thinkning

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Reflection, Insight, and Empathy:
Uncommon Outcomes in Management Education

Abstract

This paper provides solid research support for the use of learning journal writing in undergraduate and graduate management education. Journal writing promotes deep learning, problem-solving skills, and insight through the reflective process, itself a crucial management skill. Guided and structured journal writing leads to greater integration of material, better ability to apply theory and methods to real world problems, and increased understanding of self and situations. Improvements have been seen in student empathy, confidence, and self-awareness. The journal writing / reflection and the review and feedback process create a powerful dialogue between learner and facilitator of learning, not often otherwise possible. A major contribution of this paper is its clear guidance to students and instructors on journal writing and journal assessment.

Reflection, Insight, and Empathy:
Uncommon Outcomes in Management Education

|Key Words |Reflective Thinking |Learning Journal |Assessment | | |Management Education |Instructional Methodology |Teaching Outcomes |

Abstract

This paper provides solid research support for the use of learning journal writing in undergraduate and graduate management education. Journal writing promotes deep learning, problem-solving skills, and insight through the reflective process, itself a crucial management skill. Guided and structured journal writing leads to greater integration of material, better ability to apply theory and methods to real world problems, and increased understanding of self and situations. Improvements have been seen in student empathy, confidence, and self-awareness. The journal writing / reflection and the review and feedback process create a powerful dialogue between learner and facilitator of learning, not often otherwise possible. A major contribution of this paper is its clear guidance to students and instructors on journal writing and journal assessment.

Introduction

A strong case can be made for adopting the use of learning journal writing in undergraduate and graduate management education. Numerous articles and studies provide convincing evidence that journal writing significantly enhances student learning, complementing or supplanting more traditional instruction and course-related learning activities.[1] In addition to the substantial references cited in this paper, the author has had an on-going association with journaling for ten years, including instrumental use in Organisational Behaviour and Organisational Development courses in MBA and graduate Human Resource Management programs, as a tool to support train the trainer programs in industry, and as a “journaler,” using his own journal writing in teaching and learning. The author’s experience with the use of learning journals is on-going. A special type of learning journal (as described in the body of this paper) was used in an undergraduate management course and in a graduate qualitative research methods course as recently as Semester I, 2004. While the research into the efficacy and the overall benefits and trade-offs of the use of journal writing in these two courses is not complete, the four main faculty members using and reviewing the journals believe the value to be substantial enough to merit use again in both courses in Semester II. In addition, the slightly-modified version of the learning journal will be used in a second graduate course, Management and Organisation.

For the prospective instructor, the information provided in this paper will help make an informed decision regarding adoption of learning journals; and, once that decision has been made, how to best implement, structure, and get...
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