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Learning Diary — A Basic Guide

"There is no problem so big it cannot be run away from."
- Charles M. Schulz

Learning Diary

A learning diary can also be called as a lecture diary, a (lecture) journal, a course diary or a course report. The learning diary is a writing that can take a place of a course exam. Length of a diary can vary, depending on a lecturer and on a course, but 2 credit units usually requires more pages than 1 credit units. Suitable length for a learning diary for the Applied Mathematics Seminar is from 1 to 2 pages.

A learning diary should comment on the themes of the lectures or presentations and should also give the lecturer feedback on them. A diary is not only referring to lectures, it also discusses and may even argue. Your comments can be critical, interpretative and/or complementary. The comments can be based on your own experience, reading or following the news media and you can, by all means, disagree with the lecturer. Your comments should, however, be well formulated. Don't speculate — give arguments for your statements and observations! The best way to give criticism is to first analyse the current theory and then to suggest a justified and applicable improvement.

Learning diary summarizes the essential elements of a lecture and gives a critical view of discussed topics. Therefore, its purpose is to develop critical thinking and reassure that you got a grip what was discussed. All details of the lecture content do not need to be included in the diary — the lecturer already knows those. More important is what you have learnt during the lectures. Learning diary is also a diagnostic tool: if it appears that you have difficulties in writing it, it is possible that you have not been able to follow the lecture. In this case, try to find the reasons as soon as possible!

You may use library and web to get more information; especially for the facts you do not understand. If you use any other sources, remember to mention them in the references. It is not allowed to use someone else's words or thoughts as your own!

Note that you probably won't have time to write your diary during lectures (you make only short notes) but you should write a complete version as soon as possible, when you still remember the lecture.

Where to start

If you don't know how to get started, try to answer following questions in your own words.

Practical Notes

In order to realize flexible diary management, please follow the listed simple rules: