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ENVS1003 Reflective Journals
What is a reflective journal and what is its relevance to the course?
A reflective journal is a tool to encourage reflection, critique and self analysis (Anderson, 2012). Student reflective journals have increasingly been used in undergraduate studies as a way of providing students with a means to think deeply about core ideas presented in a particular course and to document these reflections as part of ‘reflective learning’.
Reflective learning, according to Drummer et al (2008, 460) involves:
the process of considering what we know or have learnt in order to generate new knowledge. . . It involves the ‘reprocessing’ of ideas or knowledge in order to make sense of complicated or unstructured situations. In reflection we describe, analyse and evaluate our practice in order to learn from that practice.
Given this brief description, a reflective journal is not a description of what was presented in a lecture or a list of things that were talked about and discussed in a particular tutorial. Instead, the reflective journal gives students a chance to write about the development of thinking around certain issues or topics. For example, what your thoughts and assumptions might be on something like Animal Liberation at the start of the course may develop or transform during the semester. Likewise, engaging with key aspects of Deep Ecology or EcoSocialism may enable a fundamental rethink of your assumptions and taken for granted beliefs about one thing or another.
Alternatively, issues that come up in topics like - The Role of Science and Technology may consolidate your thinking. In other words, you may already hold a view that is presented in the course and what you reflect on, is the strengthening of this viewpoint when writing in your journal. Conversely, you may disagree entirely with material presented in the lectures and/or discussed in the tutorials. These critiques would be something you would write about.
Documenting these transformations and shifts in thinking is one of the main purposes of the reflective journals.
Writing and preparing for your weekly entries and final reflective journal
For most people this will be a course that challenges the values and ethical positions that underpin how one thinks about and engages with the world. Given this critical emphasis, the reflective journal will provide students with a means to document their reflections on how, and in what ways, the core themes, tutorial program, readings etc. have challenged and/or consolidated thinking around the environment and our relationship to it. As mentioned above, the reflective journal is a chance to document these transformations in thinking and acting.
There are two components to the reflective journal: 1) A word document you create for your weekly entries which are for the kinds of reflections mentioned above (this component is not assessable and is for your use only – NOT to be submitted, e.g. it can be used later to stimulate your memory of what you were thinking in week 3 when we studied Patriarchy), and 2) a final word document you create that is the reflective journal you will submit for assessment through Turnitin. This final document will be your reflections on the weekly entries accumulated throughout the semester. Note, however, that you only need to choose a maximum of
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ENVS1003 Reflective Journals
2-3 topics to reflect on in the course, we do NOT want a reflection for each week. You choose which ones to discussion in terms of their resonance with you and their ability to transform your thought or actions.
Writing in the first person: While writing in the first person is not typically how academic writing is undertaken, this is completely acceptable and in fact encouraged for your reflective journals.
Core questions to guide your weekly entries: The following questions are designed to guide the way you could go about writing your weekly entries. These questions will also help add structure to your reflections when writing up your final assessable reflective journal. Remember, the final assessable reflective journal is the culmination of your reflections on a selection of your weekly entries and your overall insights and ecoliteracy gained from the course.
1. How has your thinking about the environment and your relationship to it developed throughout the course?
(i) Have the topics changed or strengthened your views? In what ways has this occurred?
(ii) Were there any surprises or things that you were not aware of? How have these things transformed the way you originally thought about them?
(iii) Part of this question helps you to relate this development (of your thinking) with specific authors or activities from the course i.e., it could be something fundamental said by David Suzuki or it might be the result of several youtube clips and the class discussion that followed.
2. What were the concepts that challenged you the most and why might this have been the case?
(i) We often find certain things challenging because they subvert or undermine our existing beliefs. This question is asking you to consider why you think a specific topic, idea or concept was particularly challenging to you.
3. How might you apply these new insights into your daily life?
(i) This course provides a range of ethical positions from which to think and act differently. For some this new knowledge will provoke behavioural change. How might you apply these new insights?
The relevance of the Tutorial Program and your reflections
Due to the interactive and collaborative nature of the tutorial activities, the Tutorial Program will play a significant role in your reflections. Participating in the class activities will enhance your understanding along with the weekly readings/book chapters. Collaborating with your fellow students is also a useful way of gaining new insights as each of us wrestle with the material.
Marking criteria for reflective journals (15% of assessment, 1000 -1200 word limit) + see separate sheet. Reflective journals will be assessed according to the following criteria: ability to demonstrate reflection on core themes, ability to document personal transformation in thinking and practice, ability to write in a wellfocused way, and coherent flow of developing ideas. Due: Sunday 4th November 11.59pm
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