American Sociological Association

Private Journals versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-stakes Reflective Writing

This article isolates and observes the impact of peer readership on low-stakes reflective writing assignments in two large Introduction to Sociology classes. Through a comparative content analysis of over 2,000 private reflective journal entries and semipublic reflective blog posts, I find that both practices produce distinct forms of reflection. I argue that these differences can be understood in terms of the risks that students take in their writing. Journals, which do not incorporate peer readership, appear to compel students to take more personal risks and engage in emotional labor to process assigned materials. Blogs, which do incorporate peer readership, enable students to take more intellectual risks and engage in logical mental endeavors. The results suggest that instructors should be cognizant of the variety of risks their assignments are likely to compel students to make as they determine how best to engage students in reflection on sociological materials and ideas.

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Drew Foster





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