Using journals in the social psychology class: Helping students apply course concepts to life experiences


The personal journal is an effective pedagogical tool for motivating students to apply course concepts to life experience. As students submit journal entries and the instructor responds to them, an interpersonal exchange or journal dialogue occurs, reducing the role distance between instructor and student. This article discusses the use of personal journals in the social psychology course, the benefits of this teaching technique, the specific challenges confronted by the students and the instructor, and ethical considerations. Survey questionnaires on the journal assignments were administered to two social psychology classes. The results showed that students viewed the journals as a vital part of the course. The journals helped them to apply course material to everyday life, facilitated self-discovery, created a bond between student and instructor, and made the course material more personally meaningful.

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Teaching Sociology