Students can use a journal to collect observations, thoughts, concerns, notes, progress, and opinions that may not be shared otherwise. Journaling can build rapport between instructors and students, contributing to a positive learning experience.
As stated in an online article in Educause Quarterly, "Reflective learning can aid learners in synthesizing new information, and it is often used to improve reading comprehension, writing performance, and self-esteem via self-examination."1
In the educational environment, journals need to be more than just a list of what a student did. The writing experience is used to communicate the thinking process: the how and why for each activity and thoughts about the activity at its conclusion.
The University of Worcester distributes a study skills advice sheet listing the benefits of reflective learning, which states: "Reflective learners are more likely to develop a deeper understanding of their subject and to achieve higher grades as a result."2
Reflective learners tend to:
- Be motivated—know what they are trying to achieve and why.
- Be proactive 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 improves their understanding.
- Develop their learning and thinking by building on the critical evaluation of their previous learning experiences.
- Be self-aware, able to identify, explain, and address their strengths and weaknesses.
1Phipps, Jonnie Jill. “E-Journaling: Achieving Interactive Education Online.” Educause Quarterly. 28.1 (2005): n.pag. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.
2Learning Journals. University of Worcester, Aug. 2007. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.