Making Your Own Study Plan: Some Variations of a Theme


Louella Morgan-Richer

At Goddard, students create their own curriculum for the semester ahead but crafting a study plan: a map of what they’ll be reading, viewing, attending, surveying, and in general, studying, and out of that, what they’ll be creating and writing, from critical essays (research papers with the writer’s experience and perspective) to creative writing (memoir, mixed-genre, poetry, or other forms) to reflections on what they’re learning (such as journal entries on community work, integrating contemplative practices into everyday life, or making a living from this study). This plan also articulates what guiding questions students are living their way into to find answers or, at least (or most), more questions.


Jayne Kraman

At residencies, students often create mindmaps of their plans in the works, sometimes taking to art supplies to illustrate various ways of shaping and envisioning their studies. These photos from students in Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s advising groups past and present, give you some ideas of how students draw, outline, or map out their studies.

“We tend to make our students say over and over what they’re studying, how and why as a way for them to further find the language and focus for their studies, which is very important in a place where people create their own curriculum. I tell students that sometimes drawing or saying or writing out their plan is akin to throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. It also helps to imagine a study as an image, chart, map, or whatever else fits on a big piece of paper so that they can see reflected back to them what’s most true and important in their work and lives at this time,” Mirriam-Goldberg explains.

Here’s what these photos of study-plans-in-the-works speak to. After putting these ideas and details on big paper, all of these students then wrote up these ideas, plus new ones that came from presenting their plans and getting feedback, into a formal study plan, a kind of contract with oneself (and requirement for beginning the work of the semester). Occasionally, students change some of the details of their plans, and students are allowed to formally amend the plan during the semester if their focus needs to change.

Lorie Grant

Lorie Grant

  • Louella Morgan-Richer, a student in the Transformative Language Arts concentration of the Health Arts and Sciences program, created a five-petaled approach to studying healing, facilitation, art, trauma and the body, and writing.
  • Jayne Kraman, a Health Arts and Sciences graduate, might look blurry in her laughter, but her study is very clearly focused on gut health and how the gut functions as a second brain. (Note to Jane: I know you’re blurry, but I love this photo!).
  • Jojo Donovan

    Jojo Donovan

    Lorie Grant, a recent Health Arts and Sciences graduate, begins her plan with the question of how lack of nutrition in schools contributes to childhood obesity.

  • Jojo Donovan, a Transformative Language Arts student, started with an image of the gibbus moon that their plan (literally) rotated around in exploring poetry as a bridge to the self and others, connection to ancestreal roots and magic, and form of healing
  • Summer

    Summer Graef

    Summer Graef, a student in the Transformative Language Arts concentration in the Individualized MA, is diving into the roots of art, performance, writing, and right livelihood (if you look carefully, you can even spot Michael Foucault swimming in the roots).

This entry was posted in Arts-Based Inquiry, Child & Human Development, Community Building, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Fiction, Fine Arts, Health Arts and Sciences, Identity, Memoir, Life Writing & Autobiography, Methodology, Narrative Therapy, Nutrition, Poetry, Queer Studies, Right Livelihood/ Making a Living and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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