Professor of Biology Darlene Panvini authored an article recently published in The American Biology Teacher (Volume 82, Issue 5). The article, “Guided Journaling: Focused Writing to Enhance Learning during a STEM Short-Term Study Abroad Course,” explores the use of daily guided journaling worksheets (GJW’s) as a format that enhances student learning in a short-term study abroad course.
Panvini, who has co-led the Tropical Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability Maymester program to Costa Rica with Dr. John Niedzwiecki for four years, developed GJW’s to address pedagogical challenges inherent in teaching an entire STEM course over a short-term faculty led study abroad program, which is typically 2-3 weeks in length. The article details how GJW’s sharpen student focus and foster learning through several modalities, including thinking routines, content graphic organizers and a variety of writing prompts. The article also highlights how GJW’s can be modified for other types of experiential teaching situations.
Panvini in her article also elaborates how GJW’s facilitate connections between students’ study abroad experiences and assigned texts. “The GJWs allow me to have a daily written dialogue with students as they learn, question and reflect,” she said. “One powerful assignment is when students use a simple prompt like, “I used to think …. and now I think…” to reflect on their experiences after a two-night home stay with local families. Another writing activity asks students to examine a national park from the perspectives of an ecotourist and a scientist, which helps students apply and see the relevance of science. Through the GJWs, the students develop a creative and thoughtful documentary of their experiences and their learning in Costa Rica.”
The Costa Rica Maymester program, offered through Belmont Abroad, provides opportunities for students to be immersed in a country that seeks to balance environmental protection within a cultural and economic context and is conducted primarily at the CIEE campus in San Luis de Monteverde in Puntarenas province, with shorter stays at La Selva Biological Station in Heredia province and Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste province of Costa Rica.