What really piqued my interest Mark's video was the concept of having a "conversation with the text and the author." Dialectic indeed refers to discussion and investigation, but the imagery of having an animated conversation with an inanimate text book struck and image of students excitedly looking to their resources. They could challenge, paraphrase and contextualize the content that lies within.
I was intrigued as to which kind of parameters could be used for the instructor to select certain lines, quotes or facts. What would be most stimulating for the learner? Would it be something that is inherently confusing? Or perhaps something that appears so banal that most readers would skip it over.
I am ever-interested in the scaffold approach to any learning, and in doing some further reading I think the following guiding questions would be an ideal approach to first introduce, then progress the learner in the process of dialect journals.
Stage 1: Which quotes do you believe? Which do you not believe? Why?
(This would provide a venue for the learners to display their writing skills, and for them to become accustomed to the idea of articulating their beliefs. It would also introduce them to the general format of dialectic journals.) This is kept introductory in nature by the lack of referencing material and defending their position.
Stage 2: Discuss certain key knowledge. Tasks such as explain, describe or define concepts and theories to demonstrate how they understand them. (This may also be an opportunity for them to display misunderstandings.) This could include other basic prompting such as "were you surprised by this fact?" Again, keeping the responses simple is paramount for this stage, as we introduce the idea of referencing the material.
Stage 3: In this phase, the respondent would be engaged in more complex journal entries. Examples would be relating knowledge to skills, or relating pathophysiology to signs and symptoms. Likewise, differentiating certain knowledge would be key in this stage. Case studies could be used to accomplish this level of dialectic engagement. For example, a patient presentation could be described, and the learner would be prompted with such questions as : "Make connections between the patient's shortness of breath and medical history."
Stage 4: In this stage, the case study would be the end product of the technique. An overarching theme would be to the extent of "Describe the history, risk factors, signs and symptoms of a heart attack. What diagnostic findings would be associated with a heart attack patient? What other diseases would be similar? Is there any threat to life with heart attacks, etc..."
The 4-stage approach to dialectic journals would relate back to evaluation. The learner will have been taken through the steps of dialectic journal entries in parallel with cognitive domains. The stages progress from recall and understanding to synthesis and creation with aplomb. By the end of the process (either within a class unit, or semester, or scholar year,) the student will be engaged in critical thinking and clinical reasoning.