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Learning Logs & Reflective Reviews What is a learning log? A learning log is a written commentary on your course of study. By writing things down you make clear – and so understand better - the learning processes you go through and develop during your time as a student. Normally you would write things down frequently – perhaps every day – noting the date each time. Importantly, the learning log is not just a record of what you do. It also contains discoveries you make – about your work or about yourself and your own practices – and so is also a reflection on the week's activity. How does a learning log help with learning? Keeping a learning log and re-reading it, comparing your performance over time, helps you to self-reflect and understand the things you do well and thereby make changes to how you operate when you come up against problems. Sometimes just writing down your thoughts helps you to make more sense of them. Learning logs can help you to „integrate‟ your learning, for example you may suddenly realise that understanding in one module leads you to understanding in another, or that one way of learning in one topic is useful to adopt in another. In the workplace, many employers encourage the use of „quality management techniques‟ to continually improve the quality of their work. In exactly the same way as learning logs, these methods require that records are kept, and that employees use these records (logs) to reflect on what went right or wrong, in order to work out how to improve quality in the future. What does a learning log look like? A learning log may be a notebook, folder of collected pages, or electronic document/portfolio. In the log you: List o what work you have done, and o how long you spent on it. Explain o how you did it o why you did it, o what you think about what you’ve done or found out/learned, Highlight o any questions, difficulties, initial conclusions you might have at that point to follow up later. Write in whatever style suits you, as these notes are for your own use when you reflect on them later on. So, you may say “I did this because…” and “I think that this means…” – although when you write assignments for tutors at university they will usually ask you to write more formally: “It was decided that….”. You may even choose to write in a language other than English if the log is not going to be assessed by your tutor. This may help you if you find it easier to write down your thoughts in your native language. Anything that you must show your tutor should however be in English. An example learning log template is given at the end of this document. How can you use a learning log to help group work? Learning logs are kept by individuals – but you can make use of them even in group work. By keeping a log the team can keep track of what the different team members are doing and how their work is progressing. You should be passing on summaries to other team members every week of: what you have been doing how much time it took you what you have found out the routine - what you expected to discover the unexpected - so that the team can follow up the new findings what difficulties you have encountered and how you overcame them. You could e-mail this to other members of the team (or to the team leader) or bring it to each group meeting so that the group can review these summaries. This helps the group to check on: progress: what is late, what is going well. quality: how good is the evidence you are finding, the writing you are doing? distribution of work: do some people have too much to do? Are some people being lazy?Does this mean a change in task assignments, and/or the recommended distribution of marks among the team members? How to use your learning log Write in your log regularly: every day that you do some coursework, if possible. Then, at the end of each week – or every 2-3 weeks at most - look over your notes on your own, and think about the learning processes you have gone through. Be critical of yourself (and your peers if you did group work). Consider: Did something go well? If so What did you learn from it? How can you build upon it? Did something go badly? If so What went wrong? How can you fix it, overcome difficulties, and improve upon it? Have you discovered/understood something new/important to your subject? If so What is it? What implications does it have on the rest of the subject - what new questions does it raise? Have your ideas changed? If so Why? Can you now synthesise different ideas and topics? What might this mean? Learning logs in the final year or Masters individual project, for example, will help in the supervision process because you can demonstrate quickly and clearly to the supervisor what you have done in between supervisions (which might be weekly or fortnightly). The individual project makes use of review points during the year – if you have kept a weekly log it is very easy for you to demonstrate control over the work and to get good marks for this component. At the end of the project you will also write an honest, reflective account of your performance during the year: final reports that read as if everything went to plan from start to finish are not generally true to life. You will encounter problems, struggle with them, and finally overcome them. Learning logs should reveal this process. They will also help you write up the dissertation as you go along, and stop you from having to try to remember everything right at the end. Are Learning Logs Assessed? Learning logs may or may not form part of an assessment. Really, they are they to help you understand yourself and improve your own learning, or to help your subject tutor to give you some informal feedback, or for your personal tutor to help you with PDP. Some course tutors may choose to make the learning log – or the reflective part of it – a small assessed part of a course. References Jenny Moon (Multiple sources) http://itsoc.mgt.qub.ac.uk/notes/proj/learnlog.html Learning Log (Template) Name: Programme & Level: Date: Description 1. This week I worked on: 2. Time Spent on above work: Reflection 3. Explain how you did the work listed in section 1: 4. Explain why you worked in the manner described above: 5. Think about and write down what you have found out/learned from your actions this week: Carry Forward 6. Highlight any questions, problems, tentative conclusions to follow up on next week or later.
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