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Using Reflective Journals to Promote and Enhance Self Directed Learning

Author Aidan Ryan and Jennifer Byrne
Abstract This paper seeks to highlight/outline the benefits that can be achieved by using reflective journals to assist teaching in a practical class. The reflective journals were introduced to try and make up for the perceived shortfall in the level of experience and understanding of students on a new degree programme 'Timber Product Technology'. The lecturers involved needed to find a way to get the student more involved in independent learning outside of their normal classroom environment. The module is 'Jointing Techniques and Furniture', and is taught in a practical workshop environment whereby the students learn the basic skills in wood jointing and making furniture. The students learn using a combination of hand tool skills and the use of machines in fabricating wood into furniture. The lecturers have found the benefits of using a reflective journal with this cohort of students in this practical based module extremely beneficial. The students recorded mistakes that they made and how to avoid them next time around. They listed where tasks went well for them and why they thought so and they planned how they would tackle a similar task in the future. We believe that using the reflective journals has allowed the students to think about their actions, before doing them, while carrying out the actions and after doing them. They are using Schon's (1983) reflection-in-action (thinking while doing the task). They are reflecting upon the task and if it is going well or if they need to stop and re-evaluate what they are doing and make changes. They are also using Schon's (1983) reflection-on-action (thinking after-the-event) they evaluate what they have just done and consider how they can do it differently and plan what they will do in a similar task thus directing their own learning.
Keywords Reflection 1, Knowledge 2, Understanding 3, Independent Learning 4, Self-directed learning 5.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2013
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