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Cynthia T. Matthewa,, Robert J.

Sternberg

Learning and Individual Differences 19 (2009) 530540

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Learning and Individual Differences


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/lindif

Refection on experience has been advocated as a way to facilitate experience-based learning primarily in
organizational/management
and education literatures (Argyris, 1991, 1994, 1999; Kolb, 1984; Marsick, 1988, 1990; Marsick & Watkins,
1997; Raelin, 1997; Schn,
1983, 1987; Seibert & Daudelin, 1999). It is defned here as a process of guided critical thinking that directs
attention selectively to various
aspects of experience, making knowledge typically acquired without conscious awareness explicit and available
for examination and modifcation. Although the role of refection has long been established as an important
component of experience-based learning, it remains
unclear what the benefts and limitations are of different types of refection and to what extent they appreciably
enhance professional
performance. The vast majority of empirical studies of workplace learning between 1990 and 2002 have been
conducted at an organizational
level of analysis (Bapuji & Crossan, 2004). More individuallevel empirical work is needed to inform the design of
refection
methods that are associated with particular performance outcomes and increase our understanding of
underlying psychological processes
(Seibert & Daudelin, 1999).
A distinction has been made between explicit versus implicit, or
tacit dimensions of knowledge acquired from experience (Neisser,
1976; Polanyi, 1966; Schn, 1983; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999a,b;
Wagner & Sternberg, 1985). Tacit knowledge, which is deeply rooted
in action and context, can be acquired without awareness and is
typically not articulated or communicated. In contrast, explicit
knowledge is that which is articulated, codifed, and transmittable
through formal, systematic language. Tacit knowledge has been
recognized as both an outcome of experience-based learning and as
a basis for continuous learning (Nonaka,1994; Raelin,1997; Sternberg,
1996, 1997; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999a,b).
Some scholars believe that experienced-based learning can be
developed or reconstructed by making tacit knowledge explicit
(Argyris, 1994; Raelin, 1997; Schn, 1983; Sternberg, 1998b). Toward
System 29 (2001) 481488
Applied English Department, Ming Chuan University, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Received 1 March 2001; accepted 8 August 2001

Journals or diaries can be used as introspective tools, but as Bailey has contended
(1990, p. 224), to acquire maximum benefts, writers should re-read the entries and
attempt to locate the patterns in their writing. Moreover, as Halbach (2000) concludes
in a case study of learning strategies in diary writing, weaker students lack the
strategies of self-evaluation while more successful students are able to make full use
of a wide range of resources and re-enforce their learning with follow-up activities
(2000, p. 93). Therefore, I wondered to what extent re-reading journals helped individual
students, especially weaker ones, to clarify and realize their language learning
objectives.
James described the stream of thought as having fve characteristics: (1) every
thought is a part of an individuals consciousness; (2) each thought is always
changing; (3) each is sensibly continuous; (4) every thought is directed toward
objects outside itself; (5) and thought discriminates among those objects, including
some while rejecting others (James, p. 225). James also sees the stream of thought as
developmental in that a baby does not have one and even lacks a pure principle of
subjectivity. . .(but certainly needs a stream of thought) to make him sensible at all to
anything, to make him discriminate. (James, 1950/1890, p. 321). Of course, the
stream of thought is a metaphor of consciousness which not everyone may agree
with, but James uses such a metaphor to emphasize that thought processes happen
so rapidly that by the time one can report them they have disappeared. Most likely,
everyone can agree that describing ones experiences completely in words is virtually
impossible. Thus, introspection must also involve retrospection to truly capture the
most signifcant aspects of ones own experiences. In journal writing, a re-reading of
their journals may provide most students, who take such an activity seriously, with
both a retrospective and introspective perspective on their writing.

Cynthia T. Matthewa,, Robert J. Sternberg

Learning and Individual Differences 19 (2009) 530540

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Learning and Individual Differences


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/lindif

As Vygotsky (1999/1934) contends, thought and speech are the essence of human
consciousness and writing is speech in thought and image (p. 181). If this is the case,
it appears then that writing can be a means by which a person can understand and
refne her personal language development, especially by studying her own writing
and seeing within it a refection of her attitude toward learning and experience as
seen in her recorded thoughts at different periods of time.
Learning and Instruction 20 (2010) 18e29
Received 29 May 2008; revised 15 November 2008; accepted 23 December 2008

Sandra Hubner a,*, Matthias Nuckles b, Alexander Renkl


Writing affects learning positively if specifc cognitive and metacognitive strategies of
self-regulated learning are explicitly supported by the writing task
studies in writing-to-learn provide evidence that writing
can contribute to learning (Applebee, 1984; Tynjala, Mason, &
Lonka, 2001). For example, Mason (2001) found that writing
served as a tool to reason on, monitor, and communicate
conceptions and understandings of science topics.
These results raise the question of which variables
moderate the effects of writing-to-learn. To answer this
question, Bangert-Drowns et al. (2004) considered the impact
of writing on discrete learning processes. The authors argued
that writing contributes to learning by supporting benefcial
cognitive and metacognitive strategies of self-regulated
learning, the self-regulation view of writing-to-learn (see also
Nuckles, Hubner, & Renkl, 2009). Actually, Bangert-Drowns
et al. (2004) identifed metacognitive prompts that stimulated
metacognitive processing (e.g., monitoring, self-regulatory
processes) as a signifcant predictor of the learning effects of
writing. In a similar vein, Berthold, Nuckles, and Renkl (2007)
found that cognitive learning strategies mediated learning
outcomes while writing learning journals. Additionally, in
a recent study by Nuckles et al. (2009), knowledge acquisition
while writing learning journals was highest when students
received cognitive and metacognitive prompts for their
writing. Hence, according to the self-regulation view, writing
enhances learning if benefcial cognitive and metacognitive
learning strategies are triggered by the writing task.
After
attending a lecture or a course, students are asked to write
down their refections on the previously encountered materials.
Research revealed that students who wrote learning journals
gained signifcantly more knowledge compared with students
who did not write learning journals (Connor-Greene, 2000;
Wong, Kuperis, Jamieson, Keller, & Cull-Hewitt, 2002).