welcome to tlm's findings

What do you want to know? This page presents some of the key findings from our evaluations so far. Click on any of the questions below, and if you can’t find the answer to your question: contact us. We are happy to share what we are learning. And there is much more to come…

Our Reach.
We have reached over 400 students at Leiden University College and still counting…

Our Courses.
We have integrated TLM into more than 30 courses.

Our Programs.
TLM has become part of LUC’s Introduction Week and their Advising and Mentoring systems.

Students report a range of benefits:

  • motivation;
  • self-assessment;
  • planning, focus, and goal setting;
  • retention;
  • risk-taking and experimentation (i.e. pursuing their own goals);
  • gathering and processing of feedback;
  • transferring knowledge between courses;
  • deeper and more meaningful interaction with teachers;
  • managing stress and mental health

Teachers do too:

  • understanding student needs, learning goals, and expectations;
  • recognising diversity in their classrooms;
  • providing more relevant and effective feedback in assessments;
  • monitoring of student workload and well-being;
  • deeper and more productive conversations with students about their learning process and course content

Our Methods.
We try our best to systematically monitor and evaluate all our efforts. We do this through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and by analyzing learning journals (when they are shared with us).  

Our Surveys.
We survey students before and after they engage with our TLM initiative. We collect basic background information and all sorts of cool things related to what kind of learners they are and how they approach learning. This has included their Learning Strategies, their Academic Behavioural Confidence and measures of their Intellectual Humility.  

Our Interviews and Focus Groups.
We focus these on understanding the implementation, how students and teachers actually made use of the tools, and the impacts. We also ask for suggestions on how to improve the tools.

Our Journals.
When students give us the opportunity, we analyze their journals to learn things like how they made use of them, what kinds of goals they set for themselves, and where they are looking for feedback.  

Our Study.
 TLM introduced journaling in two parts of LUC’s program: during the IntroWeek for incoming students and in the first-year mandatory Prosperity course, taken by all 200+first years. We asked these students about their previous journaling experience.  

Our Methods.
We did this through a survey. 39 incoming students and 166 first-years responded to these questions.

Our Findings.
The majority (64%) of incoming students kept a journal before coming to LUC. Only 20% of these wrote regularly, the rest occasionally. These journals were mainly places to process emotions and record events. Some also used it as a creative space for drawing, or writing songs and poetry. Some used it for planning, while others documented their dreams or their gratitude. 

The cohort above this group, after almost a full year of LUC, were not nearly as engaged with journaling. The majority (55%) did not keep a journal. Among those that did, a quarter wrote regularly. 

Our Lessons.
Is University too busy of a time to maintain journaling? We can help students make the time for this. And we can extend its common uses, to encourage them to use journaling to learn better; skills and about themselves!

Our Study.
Throughout Leiden University College’s curriculum we have been trying to get students to take up a Learning Journal. This is a pen and paper journal where students actively try to direct their learning-both by building up their skills where they want them and taking time to process their learning and trace their learning journeys. Our strategies have included, for example, integrating journaling guides into courses, offering workshops, and establishing a network of journaling ambassadors to stimulate a culture of journaling.

Our Methods.
After these various initiatives we have interviewed willing students to understand obstacles to take up/participation, what they did, and what were the impacts for them. Our insights on this question come from dozens of one-on-one interviews and also survey responses from students who took a course where TLM journaling was encouraged.

Our Findings.
There are consistent obstacles to taking up journaling for learning. The top 3 are:

  1. “I don’t have time!”
  2. “I don’t want to be asked to do something so personal for a class”
  3. “I don’t really know what to write”

Our Lessons.
The lessons for us are clear:

  1. Build in time to reflect and write in your journals.  Pick up our Learning Journal Guide for tips. Teachers-consider opening class with 5 minutes of quiet reflection before starting your session.
  2. Avoid making the content of the journal something a teacher will grade. If you really want to make the space and justify it in the class, consider making it part of participation and finding ways that students can demonstrate that they are doing it.
  3. Our guides are designed to inspire you to write. All of them offer prompts. Check out our library of guides here.

Our Study. 
TLM designed a course-integrated journaling guide for the mandatory first-year course “Prosperity”. All 200+ students participated. Before they started, we asked them to fill out a survey aimed at getting a better understanding of how they approach assignments.

Our Methods. 
In this part of the survey, students are asked a series of questions about how they approach assignments. “When I have an assignment…” One series is aimed at exploring what students do before starting an assignment and asks them six questions to which they answer using the following Likert-scale:  

1: Always

2: Often

3: Sometimes

4: Never

166 students responded to this series.

Our Findings. 
Here is how they responded from most common approach to least common:

I make a plan about how I will complete it. 

1.70

I break down the task into smaller, easier parts.

1.86

I try to learn from my performance in previous assignments before I begin.

2.10 
I stick to the plan that I make for completing the assignment.

2.46

I begin by identifying my goals.

2.56

I identify goals that go beyond what the teacher expects of me. 

2.90

Our Lessons. 
Students could probably benefit from defining goals for an assignment. What’s particularly important for us is that we want to encourage students to dare to take risks, and set goals for themselves that are not predefined by their teachers. Importantly, students seem to need support in taking these risks and making realistic plans.

Our Study. 
TLM designed a course-integrated journaling guide for the mandatory first-year course “Prosperity”. All 200+ students participated. Before they started, we asked them to fill out a survey aimed at getting a better understanding of how they approach assignments. 

Our Methods. 
In this part of the survey, students are asked a series of questions about how they approach assignments. “When I have an assignment…” One series is aimed at exploring their motivation and asks them five questions to which they answer using the following Likert-scale:  

1: Always

2: Often

3: Sometimes

4: Never

166 students responded to this series.

Our Findings.  
Here is how they responded from most common to least common:

I try hard because I want to learn.

1.69

I try hard because I want to get a good grade. 

1.89

I challenge myself to make sure I learn the most. 

2.24

I try hard because I want to show my teacher that I am a good student. 

2.27

I avoid making too large of an effort because if I fail I will feel bad about myself.

3.5

Our Lessons.
The winner appears to be…learning! But our team has some doubts. Based on classroom observations and interviews, students appear to be very grade driven. They often seek as precise instructions as they can get for assignments-to make sure to do what is expected of them. They get anxious when assignments are open to interpretation. They are often unwilling to take risks if it may compromise their grades. Students benefit from being shown the safe space for experimentation and risk taking.

Our Study.
TLM designed a course-integrated journaling guide for the mandatory first-year course “Prosperity”. All 200+ students participated. Before they started, we asked them to fill out a survey aimed at getting a better understanding of how they approach assignments. 

Our Methods.
In this part of the survey, students are asked a series of questions about how they approach assignments. “When I have an assignment…” One series is aimed at exploring how they approach feedback and asks them four questions to which they answer using the following Likert-scale:  

1: Always

2: Often

3: Sometimes

4: Never

166 students responded to this series.

Our Findings.  
Here is how they responded from most common to least:

The feedback I get from my teacher helps me improve my work.

2.11

I think about the feedback in relation to feedback I have received in other courses. 

2.37

I reflect systematically on the feedback I receive from my teacher

2.46

I ask my teacher for clarification of the feedback I receive. 

3.08

Our Lessons.
Although students generally value feedback, there is still room to improve when it comes to really engaging with feedback, and connecting feedback across courses. We want to develop journaling guides that help students with integrating feedback. We also want to encourage students to approach teachers and start a conversation about the feedback they get.