Summative assessment remains an essential integral part of all formal education. Unfortunately many students over estimate their learning and understanding of material being taught and become aware of their deficiencies only once it is too late. There is thus a need for students to have a better awareness of their progress as a course develops. Formative assessment clearly has a role to play here but it is also important that students start to take a proactive role to monitor and control their own learning rather than to continue to expect their lecturers to tell them exactly what is needed. Unfortunately such an approach doesn’t come naturally to many young students and it is therefore important that they are given help and encouragement to develop their metacognitive skills. Study diaries provide an excellent way to encourage students to identify developing deficiencies in their learning.
Students are asked to keep a diary, usually weekly, concerning their learning. This needs to be much more than merely recording a list of topics being studied and should identify how new topics are related to what is already known and any difficulties that the student is experiencing. Recognizing such difficulties is a good start, but unless the student now takes steps to remedy them, little will be achieved. Students should, therefore, go on to identify the steps they are now intending to take to overcome any deficiencies identified.
Further information and discussion can be found in the following reference.
Byers, B., (2011): Using ‘Learning logs’ to promote the development of self-regulated learners. Journal of Science Education,12(11),28-31.