ABI Faculty Development Program Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter
Serving the needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at BMCC and Hunter

Literature and Identity Journaling Project

Class information

ENG 201 – Introduction to Literature

10 students

This class involves the study of Poetry, Drama, and Short Fiction. The students write four main essays, including one Research Paper. They study literary terms, structure, criticism and analysis, and composition. This was a MECA class, which means the students were attending high school while also taking some classes at BMCC.

Project overview

This project converted one of the main essays into a semester-long project in which the students examined their responses to readings and writing exercises. The first four journal entries were short responses, each with a prompt related to course materials. The final section was a longer Self-Reflection examining the students’ connections to the course literature and assignments.

Why did you select this project? How does it relate to identity and purpose?

I had noticed that many students expressed a feeling of disconnection from literature and class assignments. A majority of students said they were doing the work because they had to, or because they wanted a good grade, with a minority saying they took the class because they loved learning about literature. I wanted to gather more specific feedback that could potentially lead to adaptations of the class readings or assignments.

What advice do you have for other faculty who would like to implement a similar project?

Almost all of the students expressed that they would prefer a completely open-ended forum for writing thoughts and reflections.

Although their journal entries were in a shared Discussion Board on Blackboard, a more visually accessible forum such as Padlet or Flipgrid could encourage the students to look at and interact with each others’ writing.

Prompts with visual cues such as photographs, gifs or videos, or immediate potential for interaction such as illustrated quizzes or Kahoots drew more enthusiastic responses from the students.

Towards the end of the semester, I became more convinced of the importance of journaling, but less convinced about the value of offering specific prompts.

Related materials

PowerPoint Presentation
The Powerpoint Presentation includes journal prompts, and in-class discussion prompts including an ice-breaker bingo sample, and questions related to the George Ella Lyon poem, “Where I’m From.” Slides 6-11 include excerpts from student journal entries. There is a link to a document template for the journal.

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