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Reflection: Learning Diaries

Brief description

A learning diary has two overall purposes. It can help you to gain a clear idea of what the students have learned and the challenges they have faced during a course of teaching. And it can help the students to reflect on the teaching and their own learning process. The text should be a compulsory part of the students’ preparation which is not assessed with a grade. But you should give the students oral or written feedback.

Motivation for the exercise and required outcome

The use of learning diaries in your teaching or between teaching sessions enables you to give the students the chance to reflect on what they have learned during the teaching, thereby developing their ability to reflect.

The exercise provides you with feedback about how the students perceive your teaching and what they have learned from it. This will give you a clear idea of whether the teaching has had the desired effect.

Performing the exercise

1. Guidelines for the students:

  • The students write a diary text of approximately 900 characters, which should be handed in 1-2 weeks after the teaching for which you require feedback has ended. You should encourage the students to be reflective, critical and creative in their writing. So they should not simply repeat the content of the course, focusing instead on their own thoughts, concerns, reflections and ideas.

2. Specific questions (see handout):

  • It is a good idea to give the students specific questions to answer, enabling you to guide their reflections:
  • What did you learn?
  • What was new for you?
  • Did anything change your views and values – and why?
  • Which themes were important to you, and why?
  • What was difficult to understand?
  • What challenged your views and values, and why?
  • Which questions were you left with afterwards?
  • What relevance did the teaching have for you and your fellow students?
  • How can you use this knowledge in your studies in general?
  • How can this knowledge improve you as a student?

You will need

  • A handout with questions for the students. You can add your own questions to the handout:

Useful tips: 

  • Think about whether the students should write about one or more selected teaching sessions, or about the entire course.
  • Should the students be guided in their feedback with specific suggestions from you, or should they be asked to reflect freely on the teaching?