Skimming the Surface or Digging Deeper: The Role of Emotion in Students’ Reflective Journals During an Experiential Criminal Justice Course
Background: In successful experiential learning, cycling between experience and reflection promotes higher-order thinking skills. Emotions can either help or hinder productive reflection. The role of emotion as it applies to reflection cycles within experiential learning is not well understood, especially in the criminal justice area. Purpose: The research presented in this article examined how students’ emotional reactions shaped their reflection via journal entries and identified key points where these reactions are able to be routed into more developed phases of reflection. Methodology/Approach: Content analysis was used to study five sets of 10 students’ reflective journals during a college course entitled “The Role of Canines in Inmate Rehabilitation.” Findings/Conclusions: The exploratory study yields the themes of “Unpacking Emotions,” which examines emotions that emerged in students’ reflective journals, “Pivot Points” designating critical shifts in thinking, “Failure to Launch” when students were stymied in their reflective process, and “Potential for Action,” which addresses how successful reflection leads to future action. Implications: The ability to incorporate emotions into a more reasoned, critical analysis is essential to successful reflection and transformational learning, which has implications for students’ future in the field as well as their investment in community and society.
Journal of Experiential Education
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Wesely, J.K. (2020). Skimming the Surface or Digging Deeper: The Role of Emotion in Students’ Reflective Journals During an Experiential Criminal Justice Course. Journal of Experiential Education, 44, 167 - 183.