“Journalogues” and Blogging in the classroom: for all performance levels. (R.R. 10/9)

In an exploration about pedagogical blogging, this article speaks about challenges and the overall positive effectiveness in blogging for all levels in the classroom. I enjoyed that this article often broke down studies and results in three categories, pertaining to the highest students in the class, medium level, and lowest performing students in the class because it displays how blogging is effective or ineffective in each instance which helps us, the teacher, to better understand how to employ blogging techniques in the classroom.

“Journalogue: Voicing Student Challenges in Writing through a Classroom Blog” asserts that blogging has been proven to urge “students to think about their thinking (reflect), and to write about their writing” which is defined as “metacognitive skills” by scholars. Blogging has also been shown to “enhance learner engagement, foster knowledge, and increase socio-cultural interaction in the classroom.”

Blogging is also defined as “journaling” which allows the student to reflect through “reflective writing, learning logs, learning journals, research logs, and diary entries” which is an “expressivist approach” to learning that allows the students to express their personality rather than answer questions during impersonal tasks which actually makes the event of blogging a social event. (It was questioned whether or not blogging created a more distanced and impersonal environment.)

The second question was about whether blogging helped with literacy skills. A reflection from one of the highest performing students was “…I actually do spend a lofty amount of time deciding how to phrase my sentences. I would play around with words, crafting bombastic and colorful sentences.” Although this student has high literary skills, the student still found a way to challenge these skills. A student performing at a medium level states that after feedback he “understood all my errors and those were mostly run-on and repeated sentences…” which showed that students of this level benefited greatly from writing down ideas as well. The lowest level students state, “When I write my essay, I meet many problems…” and the students at this level are learning the language as well, they said that they use dictionaries, ask roommates for help and try to write the essays as best as they can.

Although the linguistic struggles of the lowest level student in the class make blogging a challenge. Some students stated that they lost confidence and stopped writing because of problems with the use of English language. However, at the end of the study it was the low level students that “showed hope in wanting to better in class” even if they struggled in journal posts. Medium level students faced many difficulties as well, but said that they enjoyed the freedom of expression and language use.

Positive aspects found in blogging were perfection of skills such as grammar, mechanics, and semantics, coping with challenges, enhancement of writing, language, expression and research skills, enjoyment, hope for better writing, and development of confidence.  Negative aspects were translation issues, lack of confidence in some students which was very difficult to overcome, difficulty choosing topics, and struggles looking for good sources.

Blogging is a useful tool when teaching and for practicing linguistic and literary skills for students, but teachers must be aware that they have many different levels of performance in undergraduate students and must tailor lessons to allow for different levels of competency in the writing assignments. Assignments should be abstract enough that higher performing students can be challenged and lower performing students can feel confidence through completing and learning the literary and linguistic skills.

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