Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Sharon K. Deckert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.


This study investigated the lived experiences of first-year college students who kept personal and private journals in an English composition course. The purpose of this study was to provide a description of the lived experiences of keeping those journals from the point-of-view of the journal writers themselves. Forty-eight students were involved in the journal writing assignment, of which thirteen participated in this study. The research question addressed in this study was what do students experience when they keep a personal and private journal in the context of an English composition course? The literature about journals showed them to be adaptable to many different educational purposes and classroom contexts. Journal are employed across grade levels, across disciplines, and they are put to many different purposes. This study investigated student experiences with writing in journals in a composition course. The journals were unread by the instructor, and students decided what to write about. The data collected in this study were primarily interviews that addressed participants lived experiences with journal writing. Secondarily, this study used the students' journals themselves. Analysis of the interviews revealed ten essential themes. Those ten themes provided the evidence used to describe student experiences with an unstructured journal writing assignment. phenomenology