It is said that pupils who are more actively engaged in their learning tend to show signs of increased understanding, improved memory of learning, greater enjoyment of their learning, and they tend to have a greater appreciation for what is being taught (Park, C., 2003). One such way that has been identified by researchers as a means to actively engage pupils in their learning is the use of learning logs, sometimes referred to as journals, which has been identified as having a benefit to both pupils and teachers. Hedlund et al. (1989, p. 108) highlighted that, “As a literary form, the journal falls roughly between the diary and the log: it consists of regular, though not necessarily daily, entries by which the writer focuses and reflects upon a given theme, or a series of events and experiences.” While different researchers have highlighted that learning logs offer a means to improve knowledge and learning, developing reflective practice, and allowing for pupils to map the course of their own learning, Moon (2003, p. 6-7) identified 18 different purposes for using learning logs, indicating that the completion of such logs will often hit multiple purposes which may not be intended or considered. The main purposes highlighted from this list that were deemed relevant for the pupils in this enquiry were:
- To record experience.
- To facilitate learning from experience.
- To increase active involvement in, and ownership of, learning.
- To increase the ability in reflection and thinking.
- To enhance reflective practice.
- For reasons of personal development and self-empowerment.
It is important for pupils to play an active role in their education to improve their learning, and the ability to develop self-awareness through reflection, and to therefore have a greater sense of ownership towards their learning, is something which can be developed through the use of learning logs. While this method has been identified as being “highly effective in supporting ongoing understanding” (Cadieux, C., 2012), it should also be noted that research by Chris Park (2003) has identified that not all pupils have a positive response when engaging with learning logs due to an unwillingness to reflect on learning, as it requires them to think in a different or unnatural way, however these logs do provide invaluable feedback to teachers regarding areas of the learning (Park, C., 2003). The potential benefits to pupils and teachers is what forms the basis of this enquiry.
The aim of this enquiry was to assess the effect that reflective learning logs have on the attitude of the pupils towards their own learning when encouraged to reflect on their successes, areas for improvement, and how they feel they can improve the following week.