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13 - Learning Diary (report)

Learning diary is a tool of reflection. It helps the student to assess what she/he has learned in a course. The aim of a learning diary is to summarize, analyze and comment on the course and lectures. There are many ways for students to do this; sometimes they start to write a blank document and sometimes a pre-defined report. In this course, a pre-defined report template is provided in the previous chapter. Contents of this chapter are informative.

If you want to know more, try these search words: learning diary or learning report.

Working with your Learning Report by Jouni Huotari (Learning Report)

An important part of learning is writing down the findings, experiences, ideas, and other thoughts during the course in a so-called learning report. A learning report thus supports your professional learning and personal growth and it also helps you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses during learning.

You can repeat those successful moments that have been written down in "good days". It encourages you to try again or to avoid the mistakes of your "bad days". Learning is more systematic when you follow your progress by using a learning report.

There are many other positive things in a learning report. It supports self-evaluation and self-reflection. It gives information about the progress of the studies and hopefully encourages and motivates you. Looking back at your report entries is very satisfying and provides a record of all your learning. It also helps to clarify abstract concepts and theories.

In a learning report you can evaluate systematically what you have or have not learned, and what you should learn and study more. The way of learning is connected to learning skills. With a learning report you can see your way of learning as a process.

Through thinking about the way you study - and what other ways you could use as well - and writing down your results, you will have a chance to evaluate and implement your learning.

You can instantly write down your thoughts and feelings during the lessons. You should make notes after each lecture. The notes can be long, but it's also enough if you write down just a couple of your thoughts. Remember: you write for yourself, not for the lecturer!

A simple process for reflecting in your report is asking the questions:

  • What is working well?
  • What could be better?

Getting started on the learning report

At the beginning of the studies, you probably completed an exercise thinking about your career and future. Use what you wrote for that exercise as a start and then explore what you want to specifically get out of this course. The following questions may be useful:

  • What are you willing to learn?
  • Compare your personal strategy to the course objectives?
  • What grade would you like to achieve?
  • How much work are you prepared to invest in the course?
  • In what ways do the course topics interest you?
  • What type of businesses are you interested in?

What do you bring to the course?

These questions, when answered in you learning report, are useful in understanding your existing knowledge:

  • What previous experience do you have about the course content?
  • How have your other courses prepared you for this course?
  • What do you know about the course topics from other students?
  • Can you draw a mind-map showing all the previous learning you have done which relates to this course?
  • Define your understanding of strategy as you see it. What are the core components and how do they relate to each other.

Daily or regular report entries

Daily entries in your learning report can be a couple of lines to a couple of pages. Below are a list of creative ways in which you can capture your learning in your report.

  • Write in your own words the contents and what you think are the most important issues from a particular lecture.
  • What would you like to learn more of?
  • What things were confusing or what did you not understand?
  • Did you get any new ideas?
  • What did you actually learn?
  • Can you apply your learning to other courses / projects you are working on?
  • Write in one sentence or paragraph what you take out of today’s lecture.
  • Which other courses feature content, which is relevant to business strategy.
  • A copy of slides distributed by the lecturer with your comments and reflections scribbled on them.
  • Cut-outs from newspapers (Business Day etc..) or magazines (Fortune, Economist, FinWeek, Financial Mail etc..) with your reflections written next to the articles of interest.
  • Minutes from a project meeting and what your experience of the meeting was.
  • Notes from a guest lecture.
  • A URL of a video on YouTube or that you found fascinating and your observations from watching the video.

Project work

Think about your project and what you want to address in the project. Write in your report your initial thoughts and how they progress throughout the course. What is your project team like? How are you functioning as a team? Mark your report entries for the project so that you can easily refer back to them for the project reflective essay required when you hand the project in.

Final comments

At the end of the course, evaluate how well you have achieved your goals. Summarise your main experiences with the course (good and and) and tell how you solved them. Tell also how you would improve your learning next time. Finally, mention at least three things that would help the lecturer to improve the course and/or teaching next time.

This document is originally by Jouni Huotari and modified by Dale Williams under