Self-directed learning through journal use in an elective pharmacy course


  • Melinda E Lull St. John Fisher College, New York
  • Casey U Slevinski St. John Fisher College, New York
  • Andrea N Traina St. John Fisher College, New York


Self-Directed Learning, Reflective Learning, Teaching Innovations, Journal-Based Course


Introduction: The objective of this study was to implement and assess the use of electronic self-directed learning journals in a one-semester pharmacy elective course as a development tool to promote self-learning amongst students.

Description of Course: In a toxicology doctor of pharmacy elective course, students completed self-directed assignments based on in-class material in an electronic journal. Students participated in group discussions based on the assignment. Journals were graded for completeness and pursuit of individual interests was encouraged.

Evaluation: Students responded positively to journal assignments and their educational value. Faculty members also recognised a high level of learning by students based on their group discussions. Performance on course learning objectives and quality of in-class discussions also indicated that the use of journals in the elective course was successful.

Future Plans: Based on these findings, journals will continue to be used in this course, will be further assessed, and may be expanded to additional courses in the pharmacy curriculum. 

Author Biographies

Melinda E Lull, St. John Fisher College, New York

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences,  Wegmans School of Pharmacy

Casey U Slevinski, St. John Fisher College, New York

PharmD Graduate, Wegmans School of Pharmacy, Rochester

Andrea N Traina, St. John Fisher College, New York

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Wegmans School of Pharmacy


Benedict, N., Schonder, K. & McGee, J. (2013). Promotion of self-directed learning using virtual patient cases. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77, Article 151.

Buhagiar, M.A. (2007). Classroom assessment within that alternative assessment paradigm: Revisiting the territory. Curriculum Journal, 18, 9-56.

Creswell, J.W. (2006). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Deyo, Z., Huynh, D., Rochester, C., Sturpe, D. & Kiser, K. (2011). Readiness for self-directed learning and academic performance in an abilities laboratory course. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 75, Article 25.

Douglass, C. & Morris, S.R. (2014). Student perspectives on self-directed learning. Journal Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 14, 13-25.

Knowles, M., Holton, E. & Swanson, R. (2011). The adult learner: the definitive classic in adult education and human resource development. 7th ed, New York, NY, Elsevier.

Murad, M.H., Coto-Yglesias, F., Varkey, P., Prokop, L.J. & Murad, A.L. (2010). The effectiveness of self-directed learning in health professions education: a systematic review. Medical Education, 44, 1057-1068.

Nicol, D.J. & Facfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31, 199-218.

Roecker, L., Baltisberger, J., Saderholm, M., Smithson, P. & Blair, L. (2007). A science portfolio. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36, 6-44.

Strohfeldt, K. & Grant, D.T. (2010). A model for self- directed problem-based learning for renal therapeutics. Am J Pharm Educ, 74, Article 173.

Tsingos, C., Bosnic-Anticevich, S., Smith, L. (2014). Reflective practice and its implications for pharmacy education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78, Article 18.

Ziegler, B. & Montplaisir, L. (2012). Measuring student understanding in a portfolio-based course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42, 16-25.





Research Article