A journal, diary, or learning log can be a great way to prompt students to think about the ways they learn. Journals provide students with an outlet to express personal thoughts and also allow them to consider their individual academic achievement. As students work in the classroom, provide ample opportunities for them to analyze their learning methods. Writing in a journal will help students consider how they function as learners.

Reflective learning relies on the idea that students must be active participants in their own education. A journal is a platform for students to analyze their learning strategies, reflect on what they find academically challenging, and utilize their critical thinking skills. Though this is only one of many strategies to develop critical thinking, journaling provides a dynamic and flexible approach for students to reflect without the risk of being graded or ridiculed.

How To Develop a Student Journal

Remember that though a journal is a great way to encourage students to reflect on their learning practices, it is usually a private document that requires teachers to exhibit sensitivity. Reflective learning is mostly about students accepting responsibility for their learning habits and thus experiencing personal growth. Therefore, it should not be a document that is graded critically. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Have students spend a few minutes each day writing about what they learned in class and why they think it was important. Have them address what they liked or disliked.
  • Give students several direct statements that are incomplete. For example, “One of the biggest challenges I learned from today was…”. These types of prompts will steer students to consider their learning strategies that better help the reach success.
  • Don’t grade journals based on content: focus on completion. If students are concerned about their private thoughts being graded, they might be less inclined to reflect honestly.
  • Make journaling creative. Though these documents are a tremendous way to aid students in thinking about how they learn best, creative prompts can make journaling feel less like a daily chore.
  • Provide students with visual critical thinking aids to help them ask beneficial questions.

Reflective learning is an aspect of the learning process that should become routine. Students that constantly focus on their educational tendencies have the potential to become lifelong learners that continually experience personal development. As reflective learning becomes intuitive, students are able to reexamine their academic strategies and adapt to make the most of their educational experiences.