A reflective learning log is a means to reflect on learning, and learning experiences, in different ways. It is used to record, reflect, and analyse.
In a reflective log entry, the student evaluates the activity/context, reflects on what was learned, then analyses the possible outcomes or effects as applied to their lives/studies/work. It is an informal tool to help you to take note of any learning that you may experience, for example, during a case study or activity that will assist your personal development. This is known as reflective practice.
For example, following an activity you could write a brief summary of how you think it worked out. You could ask yourself a series of short questions: • Did it work to out as expected?
• What was the most successful part of the project/activity? • Would you consider using a similar approach in the future? • Would you do things differently next time?
• What would you do the same?
• What would you do differently?
The above questions could provide you with an indication of how much you have learned from one particular activity.
Why a Reflective Learning Log?
Reflective activities such as the log improve learning in a number of ways. On the surface they help students identify what they have learned and the areas in which they need to improve. Developing this skill takes time and practice, but ultimately helps students become more active and aware learners.
A learning log also requires students to begin to organise their learning. Rather than simply going through the motions of classroom activities, they must identify and pursue what it is they are trying to learn. This awareness allows them to see a purpose in the activities that are required of them in the classroom, leading to an overall understanding of what the class is all about.
There would be little point in developing skills of reflection if all we did was to think of what we had experienced and then ignore it. Reflective learning logs provide a method of reflecting on and recording learning experiences.
They have two main aims:
i) To facilitate the learning process itself by:
a) helping you identify key elements in what you have learned; and b) encouraging you to evaluate these experiences, thereby linking them to more general theories, approaches or applications; and c) asking you to plan future activities that build on these experiences.
ii) To provide a permanent record of what you have learned.
The log-book could contain the following:
i) What Happened?
(a) Description of event - Summarise what happened, where and when. Only the significant and relevant details are needed. Do not ramble! (b) Who was involved - Who was affected; how would the situation have been seen from their point of view? (c) Feelings - Describe your feelings at the time of the event. (d) Significant influences - State any incidents/circumstances that may have influenced your behaviour/feelings. These may have occurred before, during or as a result of the event.
a) What have you learned about yourself? Discuss the things you have learned about your own personal skills (strengths and weaknesses). b) About your studies. Discuss how learning in your academic course relates to the event. c) About the reaction of those who were affected.
d) What would I do differently if this situation occurred again? That is “application”!
In your log you should try to address the following questions (these are only suggestions and not binding): • What happened?
• What are the facts?
• What was my role in the event?
• What feelings and senses surrounded the event?
• What did I do?
• How and what did I feel about what I did?
• What was the setting?
• What was the flow of events?
• What were the important elements of the event?...
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