Reflection and Journaling

Private - accessible only to group members

Reflection and Journaling

Writing in a personal learning journal offers an opportunity to explore a variety of dimensions of personal experience. It helps us focus on where we have been and what we have learned. Some of you may already keep a learning journal. Perhaps you refer to it as a diary. Some of you may have kept a learning journal in the past, perhaps as part of a requirement in another program. You will be writing in a learning journal with Liza in relation to your Program learning journey, and in relation to EECO 500 and EECO 503, reflecting on the questions that have been provided by your faculty team.

During the first week of Residency Hillary Leighton will provide a phenomenal Journaling workshop to help inspire and deepen your competency in journaling.  The following section gives you some tips to help you focus your thoughts now. Whether hand-written or done on a computer, the learning journal is an important component of your learning. Make sure to bring it with you to residence so you can continue journaling throughout the residency!

(Excerpts from Journal Writing as an Adult Learning Tool by Sandra Kerka, 2002)

"The journal holds experiences as a puzzle frame holds its pieces. The writer begins to recognize the pieces that fit together and, like the detective, sees the picture evolve... The journal, a container of experience, is used in many ways to foster reflection and adult learning.

A journal is a crucible for processing the raw material of experience in order to integrate it with existing knowledge and create new meaning. Among the many purposes for journal writing are the following: to break habitual ways of thinking; enhance the development of reflective judgment and metacognition; increase awareness of tacit knowledge; facilitate self-exploration and personal growth; and work out solutions to problems.

Articulating connections between new and existing knowledge improves learning. Writing about learning is a way of demonstrating what has been learned. Journal writing accentuates favourable learning conditions – it demands time and space for reflection, encourages independent thought and ownership, enables expression of feelings, and provides a place to work with ill-structured problems. Reflection encourages deep rather than surface learning.

At the heart of learning through journal writing is reflection, the process of exploring events or issues and accompanying thoughts and emotions.

Moon (1999) outlines a "map" of the reflective writing process. She calls it a map to convey that the process is flexible rather than a linear sequence of activities. The map depicts:

  • A purpose for journal writing that guides selection of topics
  • A description of events or issues (observations; comments on personal behaviour, feelings, and context)
  • A linkage to related material (further observations, relevant knowledge or experience, suggestions from others, theory, new information)
  • Reflective thinking (relating, experimenting, exploring, reinterpreting from other points of view, theorizing)
  • Other processes (testing new ideas, representing material in other forms such as through graphics or dialogue)
  • The product (statement of something that has been learned or solved, identification of new issue or question)
  • Further reflection leading to resolution or looping back to an earlier step

This “map” can serve as a helpful checklist for you as you journal.

Kerka, S. (2002). Journal writing as an adult learning tool. Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education (ACVE) Archive.

Moon, J. A. (1999) Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students, and Professional Development. London: Kogan Page.