The process of using reflective journaling in nursing education
Nursing students are frequently given an assignment to use reflective journaling to record their thoughts about critical events, particularly in the clinical setting. There is a large amount of research available related to the use of reflective journaling and the outcome this pedagogical strategy has on student learning. However, research related to the process a nurse educator follows when reflective journaling is used as an assignment is limited and not well defined. The specific aims of the study were to describe and develop a reflexive understanding of the process followed, understand how nurse educators construct meaning of reflective journaling as an assignment, to describe nurse educators' experience with reflective journaling, and to identify insights nurse educators in this study have to share with other nurse educators concerning their use of reflective journaling in nursing curriculum. The researcher used a qualitative methodology, constructivist grounded theory, to explore this phenomenon. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from nurse educators (n = 7) who use reflective journaling with baccalaureate nursing students in nursing programs in the southeast. The reflective journaling process used by nurse educators in this study proceeds through three phases: informing students, evaluating journals, and providing feedback. Factors influencing success of the process include: acknowledging time constraints, allowing student voice, committing to the process, emphasizing reflection, encouraging others, ensuring confidentiality, establishing student trust, knowing what is expected, knowing what students are doing, providing support, recognizing that all students do not embrace reflective journaling, valuing journaling, and identifying evidence of student growth. The findings will contribute to nursing education by adding to the current body of knowledge related to reflective journaling. Specifically, findings will assist nurse educators who currently use reflective journaling and others who may be interested in using this pedagogical tool create learning environments which foster the utility of its potential in nursing education.