Recently, while searching the scientific literature for studies on the usefulness of journaling, I read a paper by Greenwood (1998)*, which refers to single and double loop learning. In the former, when we attempt to do something and it fails, we pick ourselves up, and obstinately try to obtain the same goal using other means. Double loop is when we pick ourselves up, but before trying to use a different approach to reach the same goal, we reassess the goal itself. Apparently, Greenwood thinks that journaling helps to promote double loop thinking. You assess actions as well as the framework you’re working in, and obtain behavioral as well as structural change. All sounds a bit psychological, but I think the double loop idea is nice. For some reason journaling sounds a bit too much like writing a diary, to me, so I prefer the word logging. I would argue that logging is or can be a type of quantifying, and that quantifying any action systematically can help to promote double loop thinking. So, one can even think about quantifying the total amount of double loops that logging produces, but that may be lower than we think. Apart from my notebook, I have two main logging devices, the fitbit and the narrative camera. Recently I tried to do some double looping with the fitbit. I keep one in my left pant pocket, basically always. I usually only download it once a week or maybe once every two weeks. It’s easy for me to look at it and see how many steps I’ve taken so far during the day, but takes a lot more effort to sit down and download the data and split up my day and then analyze it. So let’s double loop shall we?
What did I do?
In the past two weeks, I tried to think about using my step count in other ways and thought that I could look at how much I walk while I give class at university. I’ve given a lot of classes recently, 4-6 hours a day, and I wondered if I walked more or less depending on certain things.
How did I do it?
I haven’t paid the fitbit premium package, so I can’t download the minute by minute steps, but I can look at the daily graph and see steps per 15 minute intervals. In the past two weeks (end of April, beginning of May, 2015), I have a nice little data set of giving three different classes on growth physiology to three different groups (a total of nine classes). You can see my steps on Figure 1, but I only used the steps from minutes 15-30 and 30-45 in each class, since I wasn’t sure exactly when I started or ended each class (each class lasts 50 min). The average (± standard deviation) amount of steps during that half hour was 49 (±29) for class 1, 79 (±52) for class 2 and 122 (±41) for class 3. What learned?
One thing I think I learned was that I walk more during class as I give more classes to the same group of students, probably a fairly good index of how comfortable I feel with the students and/or with giving the material. I also found, looking at the data in more detail, that I tend to walk more as the class goes on, possibly trying to “walk to the end” of the class. “Captain, I can see the shore, lets walk to it”. Anyway, I think that counting steps during class could be a way to measure tension, for example how comfortable a teacher is (previous experience with students) or maybe even how the students are reacting. I think there may also be an effect of class size, but I did not quantify that (i.e., smaller classes, fewer steps). So, double looping conclusion. I’ve assessed the steps, but within a different framework. Next would be to see if walking more in class, especially with new students, would have a calming effect on me, making me more relaxed. I could relate two things that I never thought were related, me walking around the class and maybe even the effectiveness of teaching.
*Greenwood, J. (1998). The role of reflection in single and double loop learning. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 27(5), 1048-1053.