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Journal Writing as a Tool to Enhance Adult Literacy Processes (Page 2)
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The Research Base

Previous research advocates using journals while working with adults, regardless of skill level. Palmer, Alexander, and Olson-Dinges (1999) investigated journal writing as a medium to increase reading comprehension, writing performance, and self-esteem of an undereducated adult female who had learning disabilities. Bardine (1996) proposes using journals with adult literacy students. He claims that it is an effective tool to introduce adults to writing, while simultaneously dealing with reading, self-esteem, and confidence levels. He advises teachers to be bold and experiment with assignments, ask students for input, be patient with writers, and not assign grades. Also, Wedman and Martin (1986) explore the links between journal writing and student teachers' reflective thinking, emphasizing the associations between writing, thinking, and reading.

Kerka (1996) speaks of the long history of journals and diaries as a means of self-expression. She writes that "several themes prevalent in adult learning - coming to voice, developing the capacity for critical reflection and making meaning - are reflected in the way journals can be used in adult education. Journals are useful learning tools in a variety of adult education settings. Dialogue journals for example have become popular in adult literacy and English as a second language classrooms" (p.1). Kerka cites research indicating that journals provide safe space to practice writing without restrictions of form, audience, and evaluation. For adult basic education/ESL learners, journals are a non-threatening way to approach writing. Garland (1999) experimented with journals while working with single parents on welfare reading at around the fifth grade level. She worked with the assumption that each student possessed a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her aim was to use this knowledge base to get the adults more actively involved in their own learning. Garland recommends journal writing as a way to "shift students' attention away from what's wrong with them and to emphasize what's right" (p.7).


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