"Journal writing is a powerful design for learning for a number of reasons. Journaling is a means for recording personal thoughts, daily experiences, observations, and evolving insights" (Hiemstra, 2001).

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  • Explore Thoughts - At times, you may simply wish to mull over what you are doing or how you are feeling as you engage in your research project. You may be in a quandary, upset, or you might be ecstatic because the intervention you have chosen is going much better than you ever thought possible! Your journal can be a safe outlet for your feelings; you are not obligated to share what you’ve written with anyone – unless you want to.

  • Reflect - Use your journal as a “Response Journal” to react to and reflect upon ideas from articles. Or go beyond observation by becoming a self-reflective practitioner -- reacting to what you’ve done with your students or what you have seen them doing. You will, no doubt, gain insights from your experiences and your readings; your journal is the best place to record these.

  • Expand Ideas - Use your journal as a learning log – as a means of brainstorming to expand your impressions / thoughts about what is taking place during your study. When you are engaged in thinking about your action research project, it helps to write down your thoughts instead of just keeping them in your head. Use the writing process to assist your thinking. Keeping a journal in this way will enable you to keep a record of where your modifications or midcourse changes in direction originally came from, and your journal serves as a “reseptacle” for easy retrieval later on, when it comes time for you to write your summary.

  • Record Progress - You can use your journal to record the synthesized results of surveys, interviews, observations, and both formal and informal assessments. By keeping these results in your journal, your data is readily available and easy to find. You can even paste pictures of your students/clients in action, and then describe what is depicted in each picture – like a scrapbook.

Writing Prompts


Begin by visualizing what an observer might sense as they shadow you as you go about your work: the physical environment (sights, sounds, smells, arrangement of furniture, what hangs on the walls, from the ceilings); the interactions among individuals in the setting (students, teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents); and the activities (what are people doing.) Write about this now, and then revisit the vision of your work environment later in the year.


Write a story about an event or circumstance that illustrates the issue(s) you are interested in studying.


What question(s) would you have to answer to understand your issue better?


How do you get at the "real" issue that interests you, how do you peel back the layers to reveal the root causes of the condition/circumstance/situation you would like to change or better understand?


Think about the kinds of "evidence" that convince you that something is working...then answer: What data do I currently have about my students? What feedback do I have from parents, administrators, and others which will influence my thinking? Where are the gaps? What do I do with the data?


How can I use the data I've collected to better understand my question? My issue? What do I do with the data?


What have I learned from the data I collected after reading through it, rereading it, looking for patterns, themes, curiosities?


How can I tell my story, what I have learned, to others? What parts do I leave in? What do I leave out? What form should I take? Who are the others who might/should/could see what I have written?


Revisiting September's writing...what would an observer sense as they shadow you going about your work...the physical environment, the interactions among individuals and the activities. Compare this with your September entry. How has the vision changed? How is it the same?


What is the action in your action research?

Taken Directly from:

Strategies for Sharing Research Journals