Students' appropriation, rejection and perceptions of creativity in reflective journals

Timothy S. O'Connell, Janet E. Dyment, Heidi Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the intersection of reflection, journal writing and creativity. Undergraduate students who participated in a residential field camp were required to keep a creative reflective journal to demonstrate their theoretical and practical understandings of their experience. This study reports on the content analysis of 42 student journals and interviews with eight students that explored if and how an invitation to be creative in a reflective journaling assignment was appropriated or rejected (as evidenced by the content analysis) and experienced (as evidenced by the interviews) by students. Content analysis revealed that 14% of journals contained no creativity, 50% had basic levels of creativity, 31% had moderate levels and 5% had high levels. Interviews were analyzed using themes of relevance, ownership, control and innovation and provided insight into reasons why students did and did not use creativity to support their journals. In the discussion, the concepts of deep and surface approaches to learning provide some insightful explanation as to why students were creative in their reflective journal. This paper concludes by providing several support strategies to help students enhance their skills related to reflection, journal writing and creativity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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