Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students and Professional Development

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 1 August 2000



(2000), "Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students and Professional Development", Education + Training, Vol. 42 No. 6. https://doi.org/10.1108/et.2000.00442fad.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students and Professional Development


Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students and Professional Development

J. MoonKogan Page160 pp., paperbackISBN: 0 7494 3045 1$25.00

Keywords Learning styles, Academics, Students

Moon has succeeded in producing a comprehensive introduction to the writing of a "learning journal". The background and historical development of journal writing for both personal and professional purposes is illuminated and supported by extensive literature/references, providing the scope for further explorations. Having provided the context of where journal writing has developed, their uses in a whole manner of situations are discussed, introducing different aspects of and uses for journals. The structure of the book is logical and easy to follow and, as Moon rightly points out, each chapter is stand-alone and can be accessed in any order depending on the purpose of the interest. Links to other chapters in the book are provided throughout.

Essentially, the dialogue centres around the use of a journal to aid learning via the medium of reflective practice. Moon acknowledges that literature on (learning) journals has in recent times been scarce but readily links her work to the increasing attention that is being paid to reflective practice. In fact the two terms (learning journal and reflective practice) at times appear to be seen as synonymous and used interchangeably; thus having the effect of bringing "learning journals" into current debate as "journals demand reflective thinking".

The arguments for reflective practice, in education in particular, are strong and well substantiated. Of this there is no doubt; it (reflective practice) introduces an alternative approach to teaching and learning, therein catering to a wider variety of learning styles. This is to be commended and such arguments are well documented here. Metacognition, creativity, critical thinking and higher order analytical skills are all seen as potential outcomes of reflective processes. It is abilities such as these that are equally attributed to the outcomes of keeping a learning journal.

This is an easy to read book that manages to reveal the essence of reflective practice and show how it can be captured via learning journals. It is, as the title attests, a handbook for academics and those concerned with professional development. This is increasingly evident in the chapter that deals with assessment issue for learning journals. What then of the students who are required to keep journals as part of their programme of study? Some guidance is offered as to how to write a learning journal and there is also acknowledgement of some of the difficulties that may be encountered. The higher order skills that are required of a truly reflective journal for there to be "learning" are some of the more arduous and are often those skills that individuals, and students in particular, shy away from. So, although some "how to" issues are covered in "starting to write a learning journal", for this to be a handbook that is indispensable to students, further discussion is warranted if the journals are to provide more than a description of events – a problem which is readily acknowledged within the text. This may then go part way to addressing a further problem that is noted in the book, that is students viewing the request to keep a learning journal as suspicious and providing what is expected as opposed to what is actually the case.

Essentially, Learning Journals provides an inclusive account of keeping a journal and points to where to go for further discussions around the subject matter. For those in FE/HE that are reflective practitioners and want to encourage others, colleagues and students alike, to adopt similar approaches this is a gentle introduction to the process that highlights many of the positive outcomes that can come about from maintaining a reflective learning journal.