Use Mind Watch Journals to Reflect and Connect to Content

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According to Facing History and Ourselves (2017), “a journal is an instrumental tool for helping students develop their ability to critically examine their surroundings from multiple perspectives and to make informed judgments about what they see and hear. Informal writing, such as journaling can serve as a way to formatively assess the student. Additionally, Walker (2006) states, journaling can facilitate reflection.” Davies (1995) found that journaling moves the student from being a passive learner to an active learner.

One type of journaling used in Dr. Danley’s online diversity and social justice course is the use of a mind watch journal. The mind watch journal is an immediate response to people who are different from the student or perceived to be different from the student. After explaining the scenario or situation, the student explains the link to the course content in which was studied or has been studied. The mind watch journal includes stating the summary (2-6 sentences) of the scenario or situation with prompts that follow : I saw… I felt…I said….I did…Because…Why? Followed with (2-6 sentences) how the situation connects to the course.

The mind watch journaling in this course is done for each of the 6 modules presented. The students in this diversity and social justice course are enrolled because it is a general education that course is required for their degree program. The mind watch journals could easily be adapted to a government, history or art course. An additional idea is have the students share their entries in a discussion board for their peers to respond. Due to the sensitivity of the topics in the diversity and social justice course the student shares the entries with the instructor only.

Even though this was used in a diversity course, it could be used in other courses.  For instance in a history course or government course, instructors can easily us mind watch journals connected to current events or historical events.  The instructors can easily change the prompts to meet the course content.  Reflection is the main purpose of thee journal entries.

Link to example artifact(s)

There were 6 mind watch journals for this 8 week class.  Students engaged each week and submitted their mind watch journal entries.  There were 20 students in the course and two people needed reminders to submit their entries.  At the end of the course, the students took an entry and looked at how it connected to the content and selected one entry to explore a topic.  A couple of students selected to discuss sexism and look further into how sexism exists in society today. Immediate feedback was given each week on the entries and students appreciated the feedback and were eager to share their entries.  Intro statements such as, ” I really liked this week’s content because I encountered a situation….”  “As you can tell, I was eager to write about this.”

An example provided by the instructor is important for the students to understand how to write an entry. The entries are submitted in Google Docs and are shared with instructor each week.

Student Examples

Reflect on any event or reaction you have to an activity, a person, or group of people: this could be directly happening to you, something you indirectly see happening, a song, a tv show, or a movie. The main point is viewing how you react to someone that has a trait that is different or perceived different than yourself. A different sex, perceived gender, race, ethnicity, class (upper class, middle class, working class, etc.), religion or spiritual tradition, age, perceived sexuality, physical or mental abilities. Then, you will explain the relevance via connection to the course.


I was walking through parking lot at the mall and I saw two men with baggy pants and hoodies pulled over their head.
They were walking towards me as I was entering the mall. I grabbed my purse tightly and looked straight head not to show eye contact. I had my phone out in the even I needed to call for assistance.

I saw two men in baggy pants and hoodies. They had the hood of the sweatshirts pulled over their heads.
I felt nervous and feared and wanted to get into the mall as quickly as possible.
I said nothing and stared straight ahead.
I walked faster to the entrance of the mall and veered further away from them as they were approaching me. I gripped my purse and my phone for defense.
I did this because I was taught to not put yourself in a situation where the woman is by herself with men she does not know.
I guess I did this because of how society warns women to beware of men. Now that I think about it, they may not have been dangerous and were just going about their own business going to their car.

Connection to course content: In the online course, we have been discussing racism. The reactions like mine have become embedded reactions in the society in which we live. While reading and viewing the course materials, I couldn’t picture myself being racist or having biases. However, after reflecting, I was doing the exact same thing that I never thought I did as a person. The question that made think are: How do I overcome this? I realized my action was indeed one that could be considered racist and has allowed me to reflect on how I can become more aware of my body language when I am in this situation again.

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Davies, E. (1995). Reflective practice: a focus for caring. Journal of Nursing Education. 34, 167–174

Facing History and Ourselves. (2017). Journals in a facing history classroom. Retrieved from

Walker, S. (2006). Journal writing as a teaching technique to promote reflection. Journal of Athletic Training. 41(2). 216–221


Danley, A. (2018). Use mind watch journals to reflect and connect to content. In B. Chen, A. deNoyelles, & A. Albrecht (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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