EME 466
Energy and Sustainability in Society

Weekly Journals & Group Chats


On the course calendar in Canvas, you'll see due dates for twelve Journal Entries and for three Group Chats. Guidelines for these are below.

Journal Entries

In Canvas, you'll find journal assignments. You will upload your weekly journal entry as a Word doc or pdf.  Using the submission comments associated with that assignment, you and your coach can communicate efficiently about whatever issues arose that week.

One purpose of your journal is to help you and your coach stay in touch on a regular basis as you plan, research and work on your project. We have chosen to do these within Canvas--rather than public blogs--because we want you to feel free to be open about when you need help and situations where you'd like special guidance from your coach.

As you move through this project, you will be actively exploring new territory, interacting with others outside of Penn State and taking on new challenges. Your project will be an “experience!”

As you journal, it is very helpful to think this way. Plan to experience your project. Go beyond the surface facts—invite yourself to think, feel, raise questions, make connections and have new ideas. This is the other purpose of your journal: to help you learn from the experience of your project. As you write, step back and reflect beyond reporting the facts. Use the space your journal offers to open your mind and heart for “ah ha!” moments!

As you write each journal entry, here are some tips for opening up this space and learning from the experience of your project--

This week's accomplishments: share observations about your experience that week

  • Tasks completed; progress made
  • New questions, inconsistences or assumptions that you may be rethinking
  • Feelings about the project's progress and status

Additional issues for consideration identified: ideas or theories arising from your work

  • New directions or conclusions
  • Connections with material you’ve learned in other courses
  • New technical and logical considerations about your project

Plans for the coming week(s): how can these new ideas and theories help you solve problems, make decisions (about your project and other things in life) and meet your goals?

  • New ideas to experiment with
  • New challenges you make want to try
  • Ideas for carrying out new plans
  • deliverables for the coming week

All of these items won't apply to every entry every week, but always give them some thought. You may be surprised! And that is the goal. (Ah ha!)

In each journal entry, chronicle your activities and observations for the week, related to your project. Do NOT simply repeat sections of your report or research details per se. (One exception--an edited portion of your completed Presentation Report may be used for one journal entry.) From a personal perspective, talk about new contacts, interesting tidbits, planned visits, press coverage related to the topic or event, things you are excited…or concerned…about, new questions that have arisen, something you had misunderstood but now have right, areas where you are stuck (need help, info or questions answered) and your overall progress on the project (on track, behind, ahead). And, hey, are you having fun?

As this is a journaling exercise, please feel free to be open and at ease in these communications.  They will have a necessary conversational tone and structure and should definitely be written from the first person perspective.  Despite the casual nature of the assignments, though, it is still important to proofread for grammatical and typographical errors and to include appropriate citation where applicable. The nature of the project is also such that it is likely that some weeks the journaling will focus more on things that needed to be accomplished but weren't yet (and why that's the case).  As such, there's no specific word count guidance on these assignments, but successful journal entries which earn full credit must fully address the prompts in the rubric below.


Please use your personal Discussion, in the Individual Journals module of Canvas. Please use this Discussion to talk only about your project, but post as often as you like. You must make at least one new posting by each due date on the Canvas calendar. Your Coach will reply to your postings and enter a grade following each due date.


Journal Entries Grading Rubric
Criteria (Standards) Total Possible Points (100)

Substance - The journal entry chronicles significant events of the week related to student’s project and progress. May also include issues, questions, concerns and other news, discussed in a way that relates to the project. Reflect on where the project stands and any necessary adjustments to research direction, contacts, or scheduling. The journal entry should be a narrative structured as follows (up to 25 points for each topic area below):

  • This week's accomplishments - Which tasks were you able to complete or make progress on?  Which tasks you intended to complete were delayed and why (if applicable)?  
  • Additional issues for consideration identified - What issues or new directions emerged from your work this week and how will you integrate that into your project moving forward?
  • Plans for the upcoming week(s) - What do you hope to accomplish in the coming week (and more broadly beyond the coming week)?  

Mechanics - Proofread for grammatical and typographical errors and includes appropriate citation where applicable. 


Group Chats

Your work in this course will be your own individual research project. Hopefully, you will find it to be fun and of great interest! (It'll be a challenge too. The best ones always are.) Even though you'll be doing different projects and working on your own, you're not really alone! Everyone in this course is going through the same experience. The course includes three "group chats" to give you an opportunity to meet and interact with one another. Feel free to post to these chats as often as you like! You may be able to inspire and help one another or share a laugh. Each "group chat" has an initial due date and a date when the discussion ends. These dates are on the Canvas course calendar.


Participate in the group discussion forums in Canvas.


Full credit given for initial and reply postings that are completed by posted due dates and address all points given in Discussion prompts. Be open and at ease in these communications, but also proofread your work and avoid grammatical and spelling errors.