The Benefits of Journaling for Historical Students

History, as any other most widely accepted subject, attracts learners who like the information and modes of thinking involved. Like any other college student, you will listen to lectures, participate in discussions, and do your homework. But the content you will learn will differ.

What will you learn as a student in a history major?

  • You will become widely familiar with the history of your own country and other parts of the world. It is a valuable experience, as we all are increasingly connected in this globalized world.
  • You will gain substantial knowledge of history starting with ancient societies and finishing with modern times.
  • You will enrich your cultural knowledge by encountering the culture of at least one country other than your own.

What set of skills will you develop?

  • The ability to assess evidence. You will learn to understand the historical evidence, critically analyze it, and combine in order to make coherent arguments.
  • The ability to make an effective research. You will learn to determine a historical problem, identify relevant information from primary sources, and develop a research strategy to answer a historical question.
  • Writing skills. Different types of papers are common assignments for a history student. You will learn to synthesize data from a variety of sources, construct strong arguments, and express them in a clear, convincing prose.

Historical writing is different from the one in literature or the natural sciences. The how-to writing guides at EssayService blog indicate that all essays follow the same thesis and evidence model. It’s notable that historical writing is organized in a chronological order that is the order of the occurrence of the event in time. You should avoid anachronism.


How to write a historical essay?

To write a historical paper, follow this simple guide:

Step 1: Brainstorm

Read the topic. Specify the key points to be addressed. Then brainstorm the ideas that might be used to support your points.

Step 2: Make a research

Read your textbooks and other documents. But don’t read only for “information”. Try to identify critical arguments in the texts.

Step 3: Come up with a thesis statement

A thesis is a reasonable and arguable position in relation to the topic, your particular interpretation, the way you see a problem.

Step 4: Write an introduction

Introduce your thesis and make a short preview of three main points.

Step 5: Create the main body

Each paragraph is intended to present one main point and plausible evidence that proves it. There should be transitions between each main idea to provide the flow of your essay.

Step 6: Conclusion

Paraphrase your thesis. Summarize and restate three main ideas. Make a universal comment about your topic and leave the reader thinking.

Step 7: Remove all the mistakes and rewrite the passages that seem weak

It is a guide only, and its step-by-step approach does not replace more deep research on how to write a historical essay.


The Benefits of Journaling

Many students ask if there is a way to improve this skill except for regular writing assignments. Yes, there is. It is journaling. It is a simple activity that doesn’t take much time and efforts but brings many benefits. Here are 5 of them:

1. It puts historical thinking skills to work

Historical Thinking includes the following skills:

  • Chronological thinking;
  • Historical comprehension;
  • Historical analysis and interpretation;
  • Historical research capabilities;
  • Historical issues-analysis and decision-making.

To develop this set of skills, educators offer to utilize different types of journals. There is no need to keep a few notebooks. You can just make entries in different formats.

  • A text review journal. When reading a textbook, try to identify the time-based order of the text’s narrative and the interpretation of historical personalities, events, and causation. Compare this information with those you encounter in your lectures, readings, and research.
  • A dialogue journal. To be good in history, you must develop a level of historical comprehension. It involves appreciating historical perspectives and avoiding present-mindedness. Make entries where you discuss historical issues, your observations about course material, and your individual learning progress.
  • A primary document analysis journal. If you compare the ways different authors write about the same material, you would find that they disagree a lot on how to present material. When writing a historical paper, try to define what key point the writers make, what attitudes, beliefs, and values they have. Use this journal to learn to analyze, evaluate, compare, and contrast numerous primary source materials.
  • A research journal. Historical inquiry will benefit if you can use this type of journal at the reading stage of creating an essay. Record data sources, evaluate the materials and formulate historical questions and a thesis statement here.

2. A growth in accuracy

You should not focus on editing on the writing stage. Nobody is going to read your journal but you. Only when you go back and re-read previous entries, you can start to self-evaluate your writing skills. You tend to notice recurring errors and eliminate the gaps in grammar and punctuation knowledge.

3. More confident writing skills

Have you ever got a bad grade for an essay that seemed great for you? Perhaps, you think that your ideas were underestimated. Maybe. But one of the reasons students get low grades is that they cannot formulate their ideas clearly enough. The reader does not understand them. Do this simple exercise in your journal: write about a historical issue that excites you, and then rewrite it in a more precise and comprehensible way.

4. The health benefits

Personal journal where you can pour all your thoughts, feelings, and worries can be very useful:

  • You get to know yourself better;
  • It helps to reduce stress, including the one from studying;
  • You learn to solve problems more effectively as handwriting engages right-brained creativity and intuition;
  • It motivates you to accomplish your most important tasks as you write down your goals and plan how to reach them.

5. A bank of ideas

If you start to keep a journal, you will have no problems with coming up with the next essay topic or looking for evidence tips. You will be less likely to suffer from writer’s block. If your creativity is temporarily gone, you can look through the entries and discover an idea you would love to employ.

Writing is a craft. It can be improved through practice. Journaling can help you move from a mess of historical dates, names, and events to a well-structured essay with a strong thesis proven by solid evidence.

About the Author: Michelle Brooks is the independent writer and content editor at the EssayService educational blog. After graduation from New York University, she specializes in education, lifestyle, and freelance as the blogger. Her personal interests also include self-development, art, and history.


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