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REFLECTIVE JOURNAL AS AN

INSRTUMENT FOR
PROFESSIONAL
LEARNING

Professional learning is a complex process consisting


of cognitive, behavioral, relational and emotional
aspects, in which experience is given a prominent
role . Basic characteristic of professionals is their
ability to reflect on their experience and learn from it

Reflective journal provides a platform for


reflecting on experiences pursuing personal as
well as professional development of learners. Its is
a space where they can record and reflect upon
their experiences which can be used to track the
progress theyve made, and to notice the gaps in
their knowledge and skills. It act as an invaluable
means

of

expression,

enlightenment.

communication

and

Reflection
Reflection may be take the form of self
observation to gain insight about the reasons
for ones own thinking and ones own actions
and their consequences- Bergsgaard and Ellis

Reflection is defined as the action of


critically exploring what you are doing,
why you decided to do it, and what its
effects have been. Mertler

Reflection helps students to develop higher


order thinking skills and decision making
capabilities by prompting them to :
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Relate new knowledge to their prior


understanding
Think in both abstract and concrete terms
Apply specific strategy to novel tasks
Understand their on thinking and learning
strategies
Activate efficient decision managing capacity
in their learning episodes
Exhibit professionalism in their practices

Organizational climate of
reflective practices

Open mindedness of communication

Whole

heartedness when engaging in

critical dialogue
Honesty

in analyzing our own behavior

and exploring thoughts

Reflective journals
Reflective Journal writing has been
recognized by educators as an effective
strategy and a formal tool to promote
reflective thinking and learning. Writing
about what we do and what we think and
what we have learnt disciplines us to
became more thoughtful, reflective and
analytic.

While writing in a journal we not only


record what happened or what was
observed,
but
also
develop
new
understanding, and insights and thereby
new hypothesis and new perspectives of the
phenomena.

Reflective journals enable us to create a record


of reflective thought and meaning we are making
while engaging in learning process. If the
journaling is done conscientiously, the reflection
in each learning journal will be unique as each
learner has his own response to any one
experience. Regularly writing up our learning in a
journal has the potential to provide us with a
systematic approach to our development as a
critical, reflective and constructive learner.

The analysis of the existing literature


on reflective journals summarizes
common themes about their use as
learning tools like:
a.

Act as a facilitator of learners moral,


personal, psychological, emotional and
cognitive development.

b.

Journals are the transition from theory to


practice or praxis in learning

c.

Used to facilitate critical reflections

d.

e.
f.

g.
h.

Reflective writing helps to remember


something later, its is a record to look back on.
(Holly, 1989)
The act of putting pen to paper engages our
brain
Writing a journal allows us to look at
ourselves, our feelings and our actions in a
different way
Journal writing allows us to clear minds.
Making journaling part of our routine means
that we do actually take time out to reflect on
what might be happening in our practice and
in our lives generally ( Rainer, 2004)

The pedagogical potential of this


technique includes

It reflects the personal reflective background of the

learner in the context of the experience


It

develops student responsibility for learning

It

provides active engagement in reflective process

It

is student centered approach

It

helps to shape the learning organizations as learners

see fit
It

act as learners personal curriculum in a written form

Types of journal to suit


you
There are three type of format that have
been used for journal writing

Contd..

Structured Journals
Structured Journals follows a specific or structured format. It
imposes certain form of constraints in the manner in which it
is written. This aids to obtain reflections in a uniform format
or range of format which makes the comparison objective
and scientific. Students, for their part are able to follow a
template, which serves to provide guidance to students on
approaching and developing journals.( John, 1994)

Unstructured Journals
Unstructured Journals allows the learners to produce
their own format and design the writing accordingly.
This unstructured nature of journals make it difficult to
compare with other formats used by learners resulting
in subjective ascertaining of reflection and learning

Dialogue Journal
Dialogue Journal is used methodologically to train student
expression

and

reflection,

and

was

explored

by

Garmon(1998) and Peyton (1993). Peytons model resembled


a mentor/ mentee relationship requiring a consistent one-toone interface and a dialogue as vehicle for communication.
Station et al. (1998) defined dialogue journals as a method to
encourage the exchange and development of ideas between
two or more writers.

In formal reflective wiring where the learners


reflection work is being exposed and
assessed, its is important to use a framework
for the development of it. There are many
models for reflection.
Gibbs model of reflective cycle( Gibb, 1988) is
one among t hem. An outline of this model gives
an idea of the depth that effective reflection
requires.

Gibbs reflective cycle

Description

What happened? Dont make judgments yet


or try to draw conclusions; simply describe.

Feelings

What were your reactions and feelings?

Again dont move on to analyzing these yet.

Evaluation

What was good or bad about the

experience? Make value judgments.

Analysis

What sense can you make of the situation? Bring

in ideas from outside the experience to help you.


What was really going on?
Were different peoples experiences similar or
different in important ways?

Conclusions
What can be concluded, in a general sense, from
these experiences and the analysis you have
undertaken?
What can be concluded about your own specific,
unique, personal situation or way of working?

Action Plans
What are you going to do differently in this type of
situation next time?
What steps are you going to take o n the basis of
what you have learnt?

SCOPE OF REFLECTIVE JOURNALS


It respects the right of individuals to exercise self

direction and thereby, enhances their ability to exercise


control over their own learning and their own actions.
Reflective

writing is a way of learning and helps to

evaluate their own learning performance as a learner by


engaging in reflective journaling learners are taking an
active role in learning and recognizing our personal
responsibility for life long learning.

Journal writing is a helpful device in providing educators

with a window to make critical judgment of their students


learning.

Contd

Reflective learning journals facilitate critical reflection;


it assists learners in conceptualizing

and re-

conceptualizing abstractions through re configurating, reframing and relating it to practice


Thinking about our learning and writing things down
help to clarify our thoughts and emotions
Use of learning journal facilitate metacogninitive
abilities which

leads to

self inquiry, self managing

learning process and self esteem (Holly (1989), Norton,


Ownes, and Clark (2004)).