A learning journal is often seen as a key tool for reflective-learning, as it supports multiple phases of the learning process:
- reflecting on what has happened, or what you want to change
- analysing and questioning to understand
- documenting potential sources of information
- exploring different potential actions
It has been suggested that reflective learners tend to:
- be pro-active in extending their understanding of new topics and subjects
- use their existing knowledge to help them to develop their understanding of new ideas
- understand new concepts by relating them to their previous experiences
- understand that additional research and reading widely will improve their understanding
- develop their learning and thinking by honing critical thinking skills
- develop better self-awareness
How to keep a learning journal
It's important to write regularly in order to embed the practice so that it becomes second nature. You should prefer analysis over pure description - why did something happen? There are no right or wrong answers in your journal.
Over time, develop the habit of reviewing past journal entries looking for themes or further insights. If you are developing a more robust note-taking framework you should look for insights that can inform your permanent notes (permanent-notes-should-develop-iteratively)
Templates for learning journals
The simplest template is probably:
- what was the trigger for this entry? / what happened?
- what did I learn?
- what went well, and why?
- what could I have done better?
- what will I do differently in future?