For the many among you who use journals as part of your ADR instruction…  An article in this morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education (here) describes a study comparing students’ writing when they are asked to submit what amount to journal entries either in the form of essays or in the form of public blog posts.  The researchers were expecting to see and measure differences in writing style.  Instead, they reported no real difference in the quality of the writing, but did identifying differences in the substance of the writing.

The most provocative of the conclusions, as summarized by CHE was this:

 “One general conclusion one can draw from these findings is that journals and blogs each have their own strengths in terms of their ability to engage students in deep reflection,” author Drew Foster writes. “Specifically, students appear to be overall more likely to take greater intellectual risks in blogs, which they know will be read and commented upon by their peers. Conversely, journals — the more private option — compel students to be vulnerable and take more personal risks in their reflection.”  … “Where I thought that either traditional essays or blogs were going to get objectively better writing out of students, in actuality, it turns out it’s about these types of risks,” Foster said. “Institutions should be cognizant of the format that students are writing in and try to link up the kind of risks they want students to be taking in their writing.”

The formal findings will appear in next month’s volume of “Teaching Sociology.”

Michael Moffitt has been Dean since 2011 and a member of the Oregon Law faculty since 2001. Before coming to Oregon, he served as the clinical supervisor for the mediation program at Harvard Law School and taught negotiation at Harvard and Ohio State. Michael Moffitt has published more than two dozen scholarly articles on mediation, negotiation, and civil procedure. He is also a contributor to ADR Prof Blog. He is a devoted but mediocre snowboarder, an aggressive tennis player, and a happily exhausted parent.