College students' self-concept of learning as revealed through dialogue journals

Deborah Ann Jensen, Fordham University


This study focused on 10 college students' written reflections on their academic experiences as these reveal their self-concept of learning as represented in dialogue journals maintained during the Spring 1987 semester at a metropolitan New York City 4 year college. In reference to research done in the areas of reflection, writing to learn, and social interaction, the dialogue journal becomes a natural vehicle to explore the students' self-concept of learning as they engage in academic experiences. It has been suggested that reflection activities provide the learner opportunity to create associations and attend to the affective aspects of learning. The students participating in the study volunteered their dialogue journals at the end of the semester, having completed a study skills course. Pre/post questionnaires and the dialogue journals provided the data for interpretation, understanding, and description. Review of the data allowed for common patterns, related to the purpose of this study, to be identified. Analysis revealed two major categories: (a) Content, which focused on the message; and (b) Form, which focused on the way in which the message is written. Content manifested from three perspectives: (a) Mental Framework, which focused on the writer's personal structures of learning; (b) Planning Framework, which focused on the writer's preparation for learning; and (c) Implementing Framework, which focused on how a learning technique was employed. This study generated five hypotheses warranted by the findings of the study: (a) students tend to make personal evaluations without presenting references to how the evaluation was made, (b) students tend to share personal history and career goals only at the onset of the dialogue journal, (c) students tend to give general, rather than specific, explanation of planned or implemented strategy usage unless an inquiry was used by the researcher, (d) students had more expectations for themselves than for others, and (e) student inquiries tend to ask for assistance whereas researcher inquiries tend to ask for clarity. The investigation also determined that students made connections describing their own learning, strategy usage and personal evaluation--an interactive relationship between the three content perspectives which developed as a result of dialoguing with the researcher.

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Recommended Citation

Jensen, Deborah Ann, "College students' self-concept of learning as revealed through dialogue journals" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8918447.