Improving writing and reflection with blogs

How can blogs improve writing and reflective skills?

The act of blogging is beneficial to students on many levels. Although it is a more informal way of writing than a traditional essay, this informality can be an advantage as it reduces the pressure on students to aim for perfection in their writing. In addition, asking students to write their thoughts on a blog obliges then to reflect before doing so, thus helping them to consolidate the knowledge they have acquired. Ferdig and Trammell (2004) summarise the four main pedagogic benefits of blogging for students: 

  1. Assisting students to become subject matter experts through a process of regular scouring, filtering and posting.
  2. Increasing student interest and ownership in learning.
  3. Giving students legitimate chances to participate and enculturating them into a community of practice.
  4. Providing opportunities for diverse perspectives. 

Students themselves also report that they find blogging a useful way to learn, stating that “their creativity and productivity skyrocketed because they knew that their work had the potential to be viewed quickly by an authentic audience that mattered to them.”

In this article, students commented that “blogging is also a great way to put your writing skills into practice in the real world and develop stronger communication and organization skills” and “starting a blog while in college can help you in your specific industry niche”.

A UCA case study

The introduction of mandatory blogging helped reverse the decline in academic standards in the CG Arts and Animation course at UCA Rochester. The course went from a 100% dissatisfaction rating to one of 100% satisfaction within two years, with the blogs leading to a significant improvement in students’ writing and critical thinking abilities. This case study explains the role of blogs helping the tutor to turn the course around:

Blogging all over the world: can blogs enhance student engagement by creating a community of practice around a course?

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