1.6.1 Introducing the Learning Journal

On this course we are encouraging you to go one step further and to write down your reflections using a reflective journal. Using a journal in this way ensures that you capture your thoughts, otherwise there is always a strong possibility that reflections are lost. Writing down your reflections also means that you can use them in Reflection 8: The Reflection Challenge (and in other challenges). Your journal will be much more useful to you if you get into the habit of using headings for all your journal entries. When your reflection is linked to an activity, we suggest that you include the activity number and name in your journal entry heading.

There are different ways to organize what you write in your journal. Figure 1.5 shows one way but you should feel free to try and work out what suits you best.

Figure 1.5 Sample of Learning Journal entries
Figure 1.5 Sample of Learning Journal entries

We encourage you to use the Learning Journal [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which you can go to now or can also be found on the Learning to Learn website. The activity that follows is an opportunity for you to make your first entry in your Learning Journal.

Activity 1.5: Reflection on Today

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes for this activity.

This activity gets you to do some reflection on when you last reflected on something. Ideally it will be some thinking you have done today. Pause for a moment and jot down something you have thought about, preferably today and ideally within the last hours or so. This should be something where you have thought about something you have done in the past which has had an impact on what you have done or plan to do. 

Before you get started you might like to have a look at the example and the section How to reflect which gives a framework which you can use for this activity.   


As an example: I have two ways I drive to work. One is on a busy motorway; the other uses quiet country lanes. I much prefer the country lanes.However, when I took this route yesterday the road was under repair, so tonight I will use the motorway.

Figure 1.6 A country lane
Figure 1.6 A country lane

How to Reflect

Reflection involves thinking and writing. These sometimes seem like quite separate processes. So when I’m writing I shopping list, I think, “What do I need to put?” and then I might remember that I only have a few slices of bread left. Then I write “Bread” at the start of my list. 

However, I find that once I start writing after reflection, I have thoughts that I didn’t expect to have. So once I start to write my shopping list, I may start thinking that I would like to buy ingredients for a meal to share. So the easy way to start to reflect is to start writing about what you have been doing. 

However, if you not quite convinced by my take on the magic of writing, then you might find a framework useful to get you going. This framework assumes that you are going to start with an actual experience and means that you need to start with an accurate re-telling of that experience. The framework is built on four questions.

  1. Who was there, who was most involved, and who was least involved? Who said what and who listened?
  2. What was the sequence of events?
  3. Where did this happen?
  4. When did things happen? 

Once you have written about these you can then add another question: “What have I learned from this?” If you are feeling adventurous, there is a final question you might try: “What will I do in future as a result?”

Keeping a Learning Journal for the duration of the course will allow you to review your entries on a regular basis—perhaps once a month. This can help you to recognize:

  • Your progress, as you see that there are things that you used to find difficult but can now do relatively easily.
  • Recurring themes in your thoughts and actions that indicate potential areas to work on in the future

1.6 Learning Through Reflection

1.7 Learning Through Challenges