So far we have been talking about learning journals rather as if they were all the same, looking for what is common in them. In fact, as with all university assignments, tutors use versions of learning journals on their courses for many different purposes, and give a wide range of instructions and suggestions about how to approach them. Tutors also often use different names for them, depending on their purpose. Below are just a few examples. Think about how some of these might fit a course that you do, even if a learning journal is not part of the course requirement. Have you come across others? If so, what do they require?
• A 'study diary' or ' record of study' usually asks you to think about the course readings and ideas.
• A ' learning log' asks you to chart your progress through either a whole course or a particular part of it - for example, a group project. You may have to include procedures, such as accounts of group meetings, and your review of processes - for example, how the group worked together, and how you came to decisions.
• A ' reading response journal' asks you about your own, personal responses to reading - what you remember and find significant. This is a good way to engage with a text in your own terms before you have to stand back and be critical and analytical about it.
• A ' reflective journal' may be part of a professional course where you are specifically asked to relate course ideas to your practice in the field - for example, on a work placement.
You will see from the above that a learning journal is a particular type of writing that does a particular job, and you can think of it in this way by using the categories we explored in the last chapter (see Activity Forty-seven). In the activity below we apply these categories to a learning journal and ask you to use these to compare this kind of writing with an essay.
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