Keeping a Learning Log
Dec 7, 2010 Study Skills 2284 Views
A log book can be a highly valuable record for improvement. Log books are used to keep track of things such as the last date of automobile maintenance and what was done, or the number of hours a pilot has flown and where he's traveled. When I was learning to skydive, I had to keep a log book of each of my jumps and the weather conditions, the altitude from which I jumped, and my landing remarks. The log book becomes evidence of the event. It also serves to enhance the next jump, or the next flight, or the next road trip by keeping track of the things that were learned from the trip or action. In the same way, keeping a learning log is one way that students can improve their studies and increase their learning potential.
A learning log is the evidence of what a student has learned. It's also a form of note-taking, but done in a consistent way. In the learning log, a student keeps track of each of the subjects they are taking, and writes down one thing that they learned in each class, each day. This becomes the evidence of their learning, and creates a string of pieces of information that can be connected when it's time to study for tests or prepare for papers.
Ideally, students would have a notebook, computer document, or section in a binder for each subject's learning log. Entries should be dated, and students should make note of any textbook pages or websites that were meaningful to them in learning this new piece of information. Then, the primary part of the entry should be a description of what they learned that day in that particular subject, and if possible, what they thought of this new thing that they have learned. By noting the facts of what they have learned along with the feelings they have regarding it, or the reason it matters to them, they are connecting both the mental and emotional levels of learning. This increases understanding and retention of the course material in significant ways.
Making notes in their learning log should not take a significant time. In fact, this should be done fairly spontaneously each day, preferably at the close of the class for that subject. While it is fresh in their minds, making a written (or typed) entry in their log helps to solidify their memory of the information. Some days, the entries will be about supporting information from previous days' entries, and that's fine, but each class should be ended with an entry into their learning log if possible, but certainly at the end of the school day.
Every little item in a learning log becomes a valuable piece to the content puzzle that is unfolding before them in their studies. As they work through their learning logs each day, students will find the larger puzzle taking shape, and from their entries, they will have meaningful anchors of information from which to begin their course or unit-end test preparation. Learning logs will not be the only evidence of their learning, but they will document the "trip" for them and serve to enhance the study habits they are also developing.