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Journal

 

 

I. The Importance of Reflection

If the study of history was simply about accumulating information, it would be a rather pointless field of study.  But the study is not just information, it is making sense of that information and trying to uncover its meaning and significance.  Too often, however, those aspects of the study of history are lost as students scramble to master the names and dates and places. With this journal, you have the opportunity to develop the habit of reflection.  This is a skill that will serve you well in many endeavors.

 A journal gives you a means to keep track of what you have learned in this course.  While you will certainly learn some important facts, more important than the mere information is the meaning and importance attached to those facts. In addition, one of the barriers to success in a course of this kind is a reluctance to express ideas in public that many feel.  Since being able to express an opinion and to give reasons for that opinion are important parts of this course, the journal gives you an opportunity to express an opinion--try it out--before you put it in a formal, argumentative essay. 

II. The Assignment

As a practical matter, your journal may be a loose leaf  or spiral bound notebook with a section dedicated specifically to the journal.  You will be asked to write at least a paragraph in your journal in which you reflect on the day's readings and discussion.  Your reflection should focus on what you take to be the meaning and significance of what you have read or talked about.  The journal should not be your class notes; they should be more than a record of names, dates and places.

Feel free to be open and honest in your remarks.  My purpose in looking through the journals is not to evaluate the opinions you express.  It is, rather, to make sure your journals are complete.  If there is an entry in the journal that you do not want me to read, simply staple the page shut so I cannot read it.  You will still receive credit for making the entry.

Periodically I will distribute a list of questions that may serve as the basis of your reflections.  You may choose to address these questions or you may find other issues more intriguing. 

III. Evaluation

To encourage you to be open and honest with yourself in your journal, the journal will not be graded on its quality.  Rather it will be graded on its completeness.  That is, are there entries for every class session?  The journal will be collected four times during the semester.  Each time it is collected, you will receive a maximum of 5 points for a total of 20 possible points.

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