Keeping a Journal
While keeping a journal is optional, students should be encouraged to maintain a journal and mentors should be encouraged to keep notes about their student(s)' progress. A journal will help students keep track of their progress and could be very useful as they complete their mid-research and end-of-research assessments, as well as part of your undergraduate research program.
Your institution might already require students to provide regular feedback about their progress and reflect on their research. If not, you might want to recommend that students keep a journal would include the following features:
- Each journal entry should be dated.
- Entries should be made every few days or at least once every week.
- The journal should record any questions students have about the issues addressed by their research, their concerns, ideas and observations, and how their thinking evolves as their work goes forward.
- Students should be encouraged to make whatever notes they think are relevant, writing as much as needed in order to create a record they will find useful.
It is important to help students understand the value and purpose of their journal and that it is intended to help them maintain a systematic record of their thoughts, experiences, and research progress. Students should be able to use the journal as a resource when they discuss their work with their faculty mentor, when completing the mid-summer and end-of-research assessments, and when they meet with their faculty mentor to discuss his or her assessments of the student's progress. The journals should also be very helpful to students as they prepare their progress and final reports.
Keeping a journal supports self-reflection and is a place where students can record their thoughts and ideas about their strengths and weaknesses. The regular recording of entries should help students better understand how they learn and where they should focus additional effort. The development of these metacognitive skills should help them take greater control of their learning.