Journal, learning log or diary

Similar to a portfolio, these can be used to provide updates or descriptions of activities, for example, experiments, field trips, or research. Although this can be used as summative assessment, the value of this type of assessment lies in the reflective, developmental process rather than the final outcome. Journals can be presented online through ongoing blog posts, or in a more traditional format. The whole journal can be summatively assessed, or students can be asked to self-select entries for formal submission at the end of the module.

Workload guide

Preparation time Low Student workload Medium Marking time Low

Literacies and skills exhibited

  • Developing arguments, reflecting, evaluating and assessing
  • Working independently and working within a group
  • Being self-directed, managing time and tasks
  • Written communication and presentation skills
  • Researching, investigating, interpreting and organising information


  • Portfolio
  • Report
  • Review


Marking criteria need to reflect the nature of the writing: with higher marks rewarding critical reflection rather than focused on academic writing standards. Marking can be made easier if students collate together selected entries for submission.


Formative feedback can be provided throughout the module via comments on the journal entries themselves: comments early in the process can help students to develop an effective approach.

Further reading

VLE journals for monitoring student progress, University of Leeds

Engaging learners in critical reflection through blogs, University of Edinburgh (PDF)


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

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