Learning Diary


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Guidance on Reflection

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  • Good tips on learning diary, found them very useful in understanding the logic behind learning diary entry.
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Learning Diary

  1. 1. GUIDANCE ON THE LEARNING DIARY A Learning Diary is a log or record or journal of your own work based learning in professional practice. It helps you to record, structure, think about and reflect upon, plan, develop and evidence your own development in professional practice and as such it is a document which is unique to you and cannot be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. The Learning Diary is a journal which evidences your own learning and skills development. It is not just a diary or record of “What you have done” but a record of what you have learnt, tried and critically reflected upon. For example if in your Learning Log you include details of what you did or how you did something then consider asking yourself questions such as: • Did it go well? Why? What did you learn? • Did it go badly? Why? What did you learn? • How can you improve for next time A Learning Log contains your record of your experiences, thoughts, feelings and reflections. One of the most important things it contains is your conclusions about how what you have learnt is relevant to you and how you will use the new information/knowledge/skill/technique in the future. It may contain details of problems you have encountered and solved (or not solved). Examples of where you have started to try out and practice a new skill and examples of your own formal and informal learning. Formal learning is ‘taught’ in a formal setting - for example at a training session or workshop. Informal learning can happen though talking with friends or colleagues in a social setting. A Learning Log is a personal document. Its content may be very loosely structured and only of relevance to you. Once you have commenced a Learning Log you will find it a valuable and useful 'tool' to help your learning and to help you to think about and structure your own learning. How do I ‘do’ a Learning Log? Try to write something down after every new learning experience. Normally use an A4 pad ring binder of paper. • What you did • Your thoughts • Your feelings • How well (or badly) it went • What you learnt • What you will do differently next time.
  2. 2. Examples of Learning Experiences: • Assessment • Professional / Peer Review • Library / Books / Journals • Academic Adviser Feedback • Learning by Doing. • Oasis + • Blogs • Internet Detective • Campus Sessions How we would like your learning diaries We advise that you regularly update these by means of an entry on your blog. This can be either a text piece of 200 words or it can be a video diary of no more than 2 minutes. We suggest the following dates for blog entries. You should retain an e-copy of your blog and submit as a component of your assignment. The following dates are suggested. Please note that the last blog is a longer piece – a critical commentary which is a component of your assignment (500 words/5 minutes). Due Dates 19th Feb Campus Session 1 200 words / 2 minutes th 5 Feb Campus Session 2 200 words / 2 minutes th 16 Mar Campus Session 3 200 words / 2 minutes th 30 Mar Campus Session 4 200 words / 2 minutes rd 23 Apr Campus Session 5 200 words / 2 minutes 30th Apr Critical Commentary 500 words / 5 minutes Questions to Ask in constructing diary entry • Have I achieved anything? If so, what? • What progress have I made • Have I put any theory into practice? • How does what I have been doing lead to me becoming better at a skill? • How can I use this to plan for the future? • How can I use this to plan new learning? • Experiences? In maintaining a diary you may note that immediate reflection (say 24-48 hours after an event) compared to a longer period of reflection (say 3-5 Rosemary McGuinness, Work Based Learning / Professional Practice Page 2
  3. 3. weeks) will produce different reflections as your perception changes over time. Patterns may also emerge the longer you maintain a learning diary. For example you may have been trying to develop your communication skills and have had a bad or negative learning experience when something went wrong and you feel you have made little or no or even backwards progress. You may reflect upon this the next day and your thoughts and feelings may be mainly negative ones. If you reflect about the experience 3-5 weeks later on you may find that you have now overcome the negative experience and have used it to develop further and improve yourself. Skills rarely suddenly develop or improve ‘overnight’. Learning new knowledge and applying it usually takes time, effort and perseverance. A Learning Diary will help you to become more aware of how you learn, what learning tasks you enjoy (and don't enjoy) and of your emotional and cognitive (thought) processes At first it may seem difficult to start to critically reflect upon your own learning. Over time though, you will find that it becomes easier. The more often that you practice the skill of self reflection then the easier it will become. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of producing a Learning Log. Some prompts when facing the blank page in the Learning Log What did I do? How do I feel about this? How well (or badly) did it go? What did I learn? What will I do differently next time? How will I do differently next time? What have I learned about myself? How have I put theory/policy into practice? How can I use this in the future? How can I use this to plan a new learning experience? Research has identified that reflection can help people to change. Some of the changes which have been identified are on the following page. (Adapted from C Miller, A Tomlinson, M Jones, Researching Professional Education 1994, University Of Sussex). Rosemary McGuinness, Work Based Learning / Professional Practice Page 3
  4. 4. Changes associated with reflection. From To Accepting Questioning Intolerant Tolerant Doing Thinking Being Descriptive Analytical Impulsive Diplomatic Being Reserved Being more Open Unassertive Assertive Unskilled Communicators Skilled Communicators Reactive Reflective Concrete Thinking Abstract Thinking Lacking Self Awareness Self Aware Rosemary McGuinness, Work Based Learning / Professional Practice Page 4
  5. 5. Three versions of the same event.....Assess the difference Learning Experience: Team Meeting Version 1 This morning I went to a curriculum development meeting. TH passed around some areas that she and YO had worked up last week. It covered three themes – Practice, Technologies and Context. We did not have much time in the meeting to absorb the data presented to us. Indeed the discussion which followed was more about the broader context of professional practice and TH was keen to achieve a consensual approach to the driver underlying the reviewed curriculum. We were asked by YO to suggest a definition of knowledge which we all gave. Some were better than others. I offered the pyramid model that I have used for years. I offered to engage in active consultation about the development before the next meeting in March. Written immediately after. Version 2 A lot of ideas were floated at the curriculum development meeting. The discussion centred around the tension between skills and knowledge and the learner / employer perspective. It was really useful to have to take a stand and defend positions as it forced us to really think about what we are doing and question the future direction. There is a great opportunity to find out what our clients really expect from the programme and with this evidence to hand the programme rationale will have a strong case. What YO said was really interesting in that should hold off on this consultation until we have a firmer picture of what developments might occur. It re- enforces the notion that developments should only occur when evidence has been ethically gathered and analysed. Curriculum development is not something that can happen as a result of a hunch. It must be rigorous. Written after deeper reflection Version 3 What went well today? I was able to bring experience of prior curriculum development to the table and my suggestion of systematic consultation was taken up. What have I achieved? I took the time to listen to what people said. Acting as chair today forced me to actively listen, take notes and recap from time to time for the meeting. What are the next steps? For me it’s about drafting up some themes to cover with clients in the systematic consultation. I also would like to gen up on the debates about skills v knowledge. Although I am clear in my mind about the differences it would be helpful to know who says what about it (in the literature) What has not gone so well? Rosemary McGuinness, Work Based Learning / Professional Practice Page 5
  6. 6. There was one contribution I really had to concentrate on. I should really speak to her outside the meeting and get the clarification I would like. She is very knowledgeable. Where can I get some help with this and when? From JK herself who is certainly approachable. I will drop her an e-mail and arrange a coffee with her and explore the area further with her to get a deeper understanding of her perspective. Perhaps she will also suggest some references for me. Is anyone in need of my help with this? Perhaps JK would find it useful to understand my perspective so let’s see if that coffee could kill a few birds. Responding to questions. Rosemary McGuinness, Work Based Learning / Professional Practice Page 6