Exploring the Use of Personalized Learning Plans in the Journalism Capstone Environment

Sally Haney

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Abstract: This paper assesses the role of student-authored Learning Plans (LPs) in a senior journalism capstone course at an undergraduate university in western Canada. Students, working as senior editors of a community online news publication in a masthead course, developed and regularly updated individualized LPs. Their LPs were used as a means to strategize and revise learning activities, assess progress, and negotiate grades. A qualitative analysis of data revealed ways in which students engaged with their LPs. Results suggest the plans played a role in increasing student responsibility for learning, creating flexibility for students to manage their unique roles, and helping students to better identify their learning achievements and challenges. The analysis also showed a high degree of alignment between student-proposed evaluations and professor-determined evaluations of student learning. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of ways LPS could be incorporated in other environments, as well as some cautions about implementation.

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2 Responses to Exploring the Use of Personalized Learning Plans in the Journalism Capstone Environment

  1. Carrie Buchanan June 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm #

    This is fascinating; a new way of managing a capstone course that gets students more involved in setting goals and ensuring they carry out the work required to achieve them.

    • Sally Haney August 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Carrie,

      While the use of PLPs is both fascinating and on many fronts, liberating (for students and their teachers) it is not without its challenges. I’m currently working the use of PLPs into a more junior course that used to include specific laid-out assignments that each student would complete and then receive a grade.

      We are redesigning the course so that individuals will design and execute projects of their choosing, all the while negotiating for grades based on the evidence-based model described in the paper.

      It will be a big shift for many of them, and me! Fingers crossed.

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