Journal Self-Analysis Essay Q&A

Folks, one of you sent me an inquiry the reply to which may be of some use to others of you.


I am a little confused on what exactly we are to be writing in the journal self-analysis essay: is it a summary of what we liked or didn't like about having the journals? Or how they helped us learn or what exactly? And what do you mean when you say the worth of the journal in terms of the grade- as in what grade we think we deserve?

Thanks for your help [...]

The syllabus says this:

  When the journals are submitted at the end of the semester, they should be accompanied by a printed, double-spaced, two-to-three page self-analysis of the worth (both educational and in terms of grade) of the journal to the student. This self-analysis, too, can make specific reference to the journal page numbers.

I'm not sure what "like" may mean, but to me that is only one kind of worth.  I know people who like swimming, meaning that they do it happily just for fun, so for them at least one "worth" of swimming is entertainment.  I know people who don't like swimming but do it faithfully every morning because they like the way it makes their bodies feel for the rest of the day.  I know others who don't like swimming who do it three days a week and lifts weights three other days a week in order to maintain a well-rounded exercise program for the sake of longevity and quality of life.  I know people who don't like swimming but feel that learning it was important in case they need that skill in some emergency.  And I know people who just don't like swimming.  It seems to me that your journals, in one way or another, might have had some worth to you and that that that worth could even have changed over the course of the semester.  It seems to me that it might have been useful for one thing or another in your education, or for nothing, at one point or another.  But however you assess its worth, you can, in that context, also assess whether or not your particular journal-keeping realized that worth as fully as it might.  I might think swimming is an ideal cardio-vascular exercise but also admit that I found the nuisance of going to a pool sufficiently off-putting that I didn't really get as much from swimming as I could and probably should have.  In other words, I don't want a summary of your likes and dislikes but an essay that aims to make an overall assessment.  Ideally this essay would have a thesis and use evidence from the journal as well as a discussion by you of your use of the journal.  And the grade you suggest for the journal should, it seems to me, be measured against what that journal not only was worth to you but might have been worth.  I can, therefore, imagine someone who thought the journal merely tedious for a couple of weeks but then received a great comment from a classmate and thereafter decided to write in such a way as to motivate some more of that particular types of response, and did write that way for half the remaining time.  That person might argue in their essay that the journal could have been superb as a way of getting feedback, which is what this hypothetical person found most worthy, but, in fact, got only some of that.  So, the person concludes, the journal should be a B-, sort of good but should and could have been better.  If that self-analysis essay were thoughtful and persuasive, as an essay it might well be an A, so the overall journal grade, taking into account the journal (supposing that I, too, thought it a B-) and reflecting both the journal and the essay, might be B+.  An essay arguing for an A for a C journal would probably be an unpersuasive essay and certainly wouldn't raise the overall journal grade and might even lower it.  In short, I'm asking you to think deeply about a repeated exercise that you did and help me understand how you now understand its worth to you.

I hope this helps.