Topics Map > Writing

Dialogue Journals

Using Dialogue Journal activities to facilitate the development of strong writing skills
Time and Effort
Student Activity Time Medium
Instructor Prep Time Medium
Instructor Response Time High
Complexity of Activity High


Dialogue journals have individuals keep a journal where they write about a reading assignment, lecture, task, or experience. Students exchange journals with another student, who reads the entry, provides comments, and asks questions of the writer.


Use it when you want...

  • To provide a vehicle for students to connect coursework to their personal lives, record their thoughts, have others review their work, provide feedback, and ask questions, or
  • To allow students to connect with other students in ways that can challenge and expand their thinking on a topic.

What students will need

  • There are no special requirements for this approach


The following workflow is meant to guide how to facilitate a Dialogue Journal learning activity within a classroom.


  • Decide the following parameters of the activity: the reader’s tasks and role, how and when partners will exchange journals, the medium for the journal (e.g., a computer file, a lined tablet, a formal bound booklet), and whether you will supply students with this or they will need to purchase it.
  • Create a handout that includes directions, clarifies expectations, and provides examples.


  • On a new page in the journal, students draw a vertical line about one-third of the page from the right margin. The writer writes on the left side, and the responder is on the right.
  • After reviewing the assigned content, the writer enters comments, questions, and dates and signs the entry.
  • The writer gives the journal to the responder, who reads the entries and responds with comments, answers, and questions, also dating and signing their work.
  • The instructor may collect the journals to clarify points, answer questions, and comment on or evaluate the quality of observations and responses.


  • Review journals.
  • Provide feedback/grades based quality on the quality of observations and responses.

Accessibility and Room Considerations

  • None

Technical Documentation

  • None


Example 1

An Introduction to Political Science professor encouraged students to pay closer attention to current political events and to relate these events to course content. He formed long-term pairs to work together for the semester and required one exchange of entries to add weekly responses. He asked students to note any recent political activity in the news that particularly intrigued them and to try to explain or elaborate on the item using the language and theories of political science (Barkley 294).

Example 2

In Mass Communications, the professor teaching her online course focused on new media and culture. She used Dialogue Journals to develop activities using Piazza (an online question/answer forum integrated with Canvas). She asked students to create a posting based on course topics, including the decreased value of privacy, the digital divide, and issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic class in cyberculture. She asked students to pair up to respond to each other’s posts and encouraged other students to comment (Barkley 295).


Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 292-296.

Keywordswriting, group, collaborative, journalsDoc ID119853
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2022-07-21 13:59:05Updated2024-04-16 12:50:47
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Feedback  0   0