This qualitative study used student and faculty focus groups to examine learning journals' effectiveness as an instructional methodology for adults enrolled in undergraduate and graduate Organizational Leadership (OL) degree programs. Learning journals are assigned to encourage reflection; however, concerns have arisen from student complaints that they constitute busywork. The study's purpose was to examine learning journals' viability by determining to what extent they deepened and broadened students' understanding of leadership, generated greater self-awareness, provided a leadership development tool, and encouraged the application of leadership knowledge. Students nearing degree completion as well as faculty teaching in the OL programs participated in qualitative focus group interviews. There were 9 focus groups conducted; transcripts were used for data analysis. Frequency analyses measured the strength of themes and patterns that emerged validating the findings and conclusions. The study found that learning journals are a viable instructional strategy for many, but not all adult learners enrolled in OL degree programs. Journaling can deepen and broaden students' understanding of leadership by internalizing and integrating learning as well as providing a study tool. Learning journals generate greater self-awareness in many students through increased self-knowledge and recognition of personal strengths, feelings, and emotions. Learning journals contributed to personal and leadership growth and some found them an effective problem solving tool. Journaling encouraged students to apply learning through changed thinking and behavior. The focus group participants offered suggestions to enhance the effectiveness of learning journals. They recommended journaling assignments with clearly defined requirements and instructor feedback. The purpose and value of journaling should be introduced in orientation and reinforced by instructors. Finally, alternative strategies to build reflective thinking skills such as dialogue should be considered. This study raised several issues requiring further research. Although participants had a strong preference for structured journaling, an examination of what constitutes a well-designed assignment is needed. Second, the study was limited to participants who completed their degree requirements and had multiple journaling assignments; exploring the perceptions of students earlier in the program might yield different outcomes. Another area of inquiry was raised when participants suggested incorporating alternative strategies to build reflective thinking.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Adult college students; Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership
Date of Award
Graduate School of Education and Psychology
Mazur, Gale R., "The viability of learning journals as an instructional methodology for adult learners" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 3.