To prompt or not to prompt: A descriptive study of journaling practices used by nursing students during study abroad trips

Paulette A. Chaponniere, Laura E. Hall


Background: Reflective journaling has been widely used as an education tool. Minimal research has occurred to determine whether prompted or open format journaling nurtures cultural competence.

Methods: The efficacy of journal prompts as a pedagogical tool was assessed in this descriptive study. Undergraduate nursing students (N = 49) reflected on their clinical experiences during 2-week trips to Ghana over 4 years (2013-2016). The 1st, 2nd and 4th trip, students were assigned open reflective journaling. The 3rd trip, students were given prompted questions to answer. Entries were coded using Atlas.ti 7.

Results: The prompted format produced shorter entries with less rich and reflective substance. Some entries only allowed for two codes. Unprompted entries provided up to 28 codes.

Conclusions: During cross-cultural encounters, unprompted journaling may produce the richest results. When prompts are used, the format needs to be carefully selected to facilitate transformative learning.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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