Personal Thoughts…Powerful Learning

by KarenBarton on 23/06/2006

Paul has been cajoling and encouraging some of us to start contributing to this Blog and, I have to say, I was feeling felt somewhat apprehensive.  As AA Milne’s Pooh Bear said, ‘When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain and you think of Things, you sometimes feel that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out in the open and has other people looking at it.’  This got me wondering how my students feel when we ask them to use reflective logs as part of the learning process when they carry out their transactions in the Transactional Learning Environment at GGSL. 

These logs are ‘personal’, in the sense that none of the other students see them, but they can be viewed by at least two other tutors who have a pastoral role in the students’ development. The students are aware of this.  Looking at how they are used, it seems that the students tend to take a number of approaches to the personal logs:

  1. Ignore them completely: there is no compulsion to use them (for the students that means we don’t assess them on this aspect of the course!) and so a small number of students choose not to engage at all.
  2. Use them as an ‘activity log’ to record work and activities they have carried out in a very superficial and functional way.
  3. Use them to vent: about the course, about other students, about other problems in their life that are causing them distress.
  4. Use them to reflect and to learn.

Thankfully a significant number fall into the final category, and most students seem to flit between the  latter three modes at various times over the course of the year.

One of the reasons I believe these logs work well for a number of students is that they are immediate: adjacent to the transaction itself.  They go there immediately after they get the angry reply from their client and they write down how they feel and what they’ve learned.  They come to see reflection on action as part of the process of carrying out the transaction – part of their apprenticeship.  They don’t actually care what other people think about it.  They have learned something important, something that is personal, palpable and much more powerful than fear of ridicule.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul Maharg June 23, 2006 at 15:34

It’s always a mark of rhetorical sophistication that a genre can be used flexibly and reflexively. So it’s interesting that students used the log for venting as well as reflecting: an awareness of audience.
Just a coincidence probably, but the fact that you’d taken four different ‘voices’ led me to wonder if there was any correlation between use of the four voices and the four types of collaborative working you drew up as a result of your review of the reflective logs…?


2 Karen Barton June 23, 2006 at 16:27

No (intended) correlation between the ‘voices’ and the types of teams, but I really should try to map individuals’ preferred use of the personal logs against their location in the trust/learning matrix.
You have this uncanny habit of making me realise that I have alot more work to do than I first anticipated…


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