Inspiration: Why should I integrate the Learning Journal in my teaching?

Teachers have experimented with integrating the Learning Journal into their courses and teaching and these are the benefits they report:

More Targeted Teaching

“Asking students about their goals and intentions helps me to tailor my classes – and it makes it more fun for me to know that they’re really interested.”

Increased Student Motivation

“The Learning Journal really triggers students’ intrinsic motivation to learn.”

Better Interaction with Students

“I really enjoy the conversations with students that emerge from their Learning Journal: about what they really want to learn, what they take from my classes, and how they want to use it after graduating.”

More Rewarding Teaching

“By tailoring my feedback to students’ personal learning goals, I feel they appreciate it more, and make much better use of it.”

Teacher Development

“All this emphasis on the Learning Mindset pushes me to reflect more deeply on my courses, and think about my own goals and learning process as a teacher.”

Tools: How can I integrate the Learning Journal in my teaching?

We recommend three core tools as the basis of the Course Learning Journal, and further tools that can enhance it. They can all be adapted easily to the context of your courses.

Core Teaching Tools
  • Introduce the Learning Mindset, Learning Cycle, and Learning JournalIntroduce the Learning Mindset in your syllabus and during the first class, mention the benefits throughout your course, and invite students to share their experiences.
  • Make goal setting a habitAsk students to set goals for the entire course, for assignments, and for particular sessions. If your course involves group work, let students also discuss their goals for it. You can integrate goal setting in class discussions or in assignments, for example reflective essays or quick online quizzes that ask students for their intentions.
  • Make a feedback planWrite down for students how and when you will give feedback on their performance in your course, and emphasize that students can seek further feedback if they want more (e.g. from peers or other teachers). Here are three elements of a feedback plan that have worked well so far – but you should tailor the plan to your own courses:
    1. Personalize the rubricFor assignments, add students’ personal goals to your grading rubric. You can add a box to your rubric specially devoted to this. This requires them to prioritise and specify what aspect of a rubric category they want to work on. Have them indicate this on their assignment and give them feedback on it as you grade.
    2. Make a Feedback PortfolioCreate a portfolio for each student in the class where you collate all rubrics and all of your feedback (and grades) on each assignment in the course. This is a great way to track students’ progress, give more personalised feedback, and give students a review of their progress at the end of your course. Here is one example portfolio from a course at LUC.
    3. Use Peer FeedbackImplement peer feedback into your courses, especially if you use group work. This will reduce your workload, while also teaching students how to give, receive, and process feedback, and collaborate effectively in a team. It is important to devote some time to setting this up by explaining your expectations of good peer feedback. Click here to see an example of a peer feedback process.
Further Teaching Tools

In addition to integrating the three core tools, we encourage teachers to develop other ways of integrating the Learning Journal (and promoting the Learning Mindset): the sky’s the limit!

Below we share some of the more advanced teaching tools we have used in our teaching so far. Some of them require little time and effort, while others are more involved. We have signalled their time cost from low cost [$] to expensive [$].

  • Coaching Sessions You can plan out of class time hours to connect with students on their personal goals. You could do this on an individual basis (office hours) or you can organize group coaching sessions around themes (like career anxiety or what is a thesis?). Experience shows that students greatly appreciate and value these sessions. [$-$]
  • Journal togetherDevote 10 minutes before/after/during your classes to journal together (e.g. reflect on the class or set goals for an upcoming assignment) [$-$]
  • Give students journal promptsThroughout the course give your students prompts to reflect on in their learning journals. This can be anything you talk about in any given class – the point is to make students think about what they want to explore within the field of knowledge you are teaching them. You can embed these prompts in your syllabus along with the readings. Prompts also help reinforce what you want them to get out of each class. [$]
  • Design an online Course JournalCreate a workbook-style Learning Journal for your course, in which you create a template for students to keep their Learning Journal (as well as do other coursework). Here is an example of such a Course Learning Journal for a first-year course at Leiden University College. Here is an example from another course.On grading a Course Learning Journal: in our experience, the extrinsic incentive of grading can easily reduce students’ motivation to actually learn from the journal. So we advise against making the Learning Journal an assignment graded for content. Instead, we suggest that you grade regular completion of the Journal as a pass/fail assignment. [$]
  • SW(OT)Integrate a strengths and weaknesses analysis into your course, in which students analyze themselves and keep track of their own goals and progression. This SW(OT) analysis can be a prompt for the journal or a separate assignment. It can be related to specific skills (e.g. essay writing) but also to the overall learning goals of your course. [$-$]