A learning journal is a collection of notes, observations, thoughts and other relevant materials built-up over a period of time and usually accompanies a period of study, a placement experience or fieldwork. Its purpose is to enhance your learning through the very process of writing and thinking about your learning experiences. Your learning journal is personal to you and will reflect your personality and experiences.
Structuring your learning journal
A learning journal may be called several different things: a learning log, a fieldwork diary or personal development planner, for example. Different subject areas may ask you to focus on different aspects of your experiences and may also have a different format. A journal could be a notebook, an electronic document or sometimes can be recorded verbally on a tape. You will need to check which format is required with your module tutor.
Why use a learning journal:
To provide a ‘live picture’ of your growing understanding of a subject or experience To demonstrate how your learning is developing To keep a record of your thoughts and ideas throughout your experiences of learning To help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and preferences in learning
Essentially, a learning journal helps you to be reflective about your learning, this means that your learning journal should not be a purely descriptive account of what you did etc but an opportunity to communicate your thinking process: how and why you did what you did, and what you now think about what you did.
What is reflective learning?
Reflective learning is a learned process that requires time and practice. It is also an active process: involving thinking through issues yourself, asking questions and seeking out relevant information to aid your understanding. Reflective learning works best when you think about what you are doing before, during and after your learning experience. Reflective learning is therefore not only about recognising something new (new learning), it is also about seeing reality in a new way.
Reflection is an important skill to develop, and requires you to think about how you personally are relating to what is happening on your course, during your assignment, or in your placement. The following diagram illustrates the process of reflective learning.