Monday, June 16, 2008

Learning and Assessment by Journal Writing

While talking about the creativity that can come by experimentation, here is another approach to learning that is being trialled.

Anthony Petterson, who teaches Old Testament at Morling College, Sydney shares an idea about teaching Old Testament which could be applied to any discipline:

One minor thing I am trialling with a colleague this year is having students keep a journal of their OT reading. I have found in my brief experience that students studying the Old Testament read what scholars have to say about the OT, but never get to reading it for themselves. Here is a sample extract from our course outline:

b) A reading journal of Genesis – 2 Kings 14 (15%)
The primary purpose of this exercise is for you to read carefully the text of the Old Testament so that you might develop an understanding of the structure and main themes of the individual books.

This assessment will be submitted in two parts. The first part will cover the books of the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy). The second part will cover the books of Joshua to 2 Kings 14. The reason for submitting in two parts is so that you can receive back your journal notes on the Pentateuch to prepare for the final exam (in which there will be a question based on your work here – see above).

As you read, you will need to determine the main themes of each book (Genesis – 1 Kings). This is best done chapter by chapter or section by section with a sentence or two that summarises the content and/or theme(s) of each section. After finishing the book, try to outline the main structure of the book (in broad terms) and summarise its main themes in a couple of paragraphs. You are only expected to engage with the text of the Old Testament itself, and will be marked on this. However, you may choose to supplement your journal with notes from the set texts, commentaries and the class notes.

You can present this assignment in either two exercise books (one for each part of the assignment), or hand-written A4 pages bound in two parts, or in typed form bound in two parts. The marker will be looking mainly for a demonstration that the text of the Old Testament has been carefully read.

You would do well to draw up a reading plan for yourself to ensure that you allow adequate time to read the text before the assignment is due. Note the due dates:

Part A (Genesis to Deuteronomy) 10th April, 2008 (week 8)
Part B (Joshua to 2 Kings 14) 5th June, 2008 (week 13)

Got an experiment that you are working on? Even one that you tried and it failed?

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “…having students keep a journal of their OT reading.”