What is an internal school logbook or learning diary?

School should offer life orientation. It should prepare for life and enable adolescents to develop individual learning and work strategies apart from the essential factor of instruction.

Therefore, the most important educational goal is not necessarily the “what”, but rather the “how”. It is vital to promote the ability to learn independently and recognize and apply what has been learned in everyday life as early as possible. A beneficial medium for this is so-called logbooks or learning diaries.


What is the goal of a school logbook or learning diary?

The earlier student are introduced to self-regulated learning, i.e., independent work and the independent organization of the upcoming tasks, the more they will benefit from it throughout their lives. School logbooks or learning diaries make use of cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies. The subject matter is deepened, the self-directed organization supported, and the development of own ideas on the learning topic encouraged.

By regularly dealing with their own logbook through logbook entries, students develop independence, personal responsibility, and understanding of consequences.

School logbooks provide improved insights into learning progress.

By reviewing the school logbooks, teachers gain insight into the thought processes and approaches of their students. But it should also be mentioned that this review means additional work because the entries should be read regularly. The advantage is clear, however. Because also from z. B. shy, calm, or difficult to access children get a better picture of the respective learning progress with the use of learning diaries.


The use of cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies

Linking the two – cognitive and metacognitive – learning and work strategies ensures that the individual examination of the subject matter is given and the best possible use of one’s own resources. Both your own time management and successful motivation techniques should be mentioned here.

Cognitive level (the “WHAT” ):

The cognitive level is about the content, the learning material, “what did the students learn”? Cognitive learning strategies (repeating, reading, researching) help deal with the material to be learned.

Metacognitive level (the “HOW” ):

Metacognitive learning strategies (time management, motivational strategies) enable learners to monitor success through the use of control questions independently. On the one hand, the objective is to evaluate the understanding of one’s own learning process. On the other hand, it is learning the methods to acquire new information and learning content yourself. The metacognitive level includes planning (1), review / self-reflection (2) and regulation (3) of the goals to be achieved.

The planning phase of the metacognitive level planning phase, students ask themselves what is expected of them. The questions here are “What do I want to learn, improve, strengthen?” The possibility of deciding on goal-setting increases self-motivation and lets learners stay on the ball.

The so-called SMART approaches from project management also apply here:

Specific, Specific: Clearly define the objective

questions: What do I want to achieve? Why is this important to me?

Clear learning objective: Adding and reducing fractions.

M Measurable: definition of measurability criteria

Questions: How many tasks do I want to practice? How do I know when I have reached my goal?

Specific goal: to solve 10 given exercise problems for fractions by the end of this week without the help of others.

A Achievement, Accessible, Achievable:

questions: How much time do I want to spend? What should I organize or who should I ask for help to achieve this goal? What is the best way to proceed? Why do I want to pursue this goal? What is the benefit of pursuing this goal?

Specific goal: If I achieve this goal, I can get a 1 on the math test. I want to practice for 20 minutes every day.

R realistic, Reasonable: Review of resources

Questions: What does my calendar look like, how much time do I have? How realistic is my goal?

Specific goal: I have handball on Thursday afternoon, so I practice 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes on Wednesday.

T time-bound: setting a date

Questions: By when do I want to achieve my goal?

Specific goal: I want to achieve my goal by the next math work on Wednesday in two weeks.

The verification phase and self-reflection on the metacognitive level
  1. Review

Here, the goals set during the planning phase are checked or checked by the respective student. For each goal, a mental inventory is made to be able to identify weak points in your own plan at an early stage. This includes both the examination of whether one is as far as one would like to be with the understanding or learning of the new learning material. 

However, by the SMART strategy, it is also checked whether the objective was realistic, whether an appointment may have to be canceled or postponed to create more time or maybe help classmates if you are not getting anywhere.


To recognize the successes and failures of one’s plans and take countermeasures, it makes sense to take stock regularly (short, medium, and long term). The area of ​​self-reflection should ideally consist of two components:

  1. The student’s self-reflection
  • Have I achieved my goal? If so, what exactly did I do about it, what helped me the most?
        • Conclusions allow for the next task to be able to fall back on tried and tested solution strategies.
  • I did not reach my goal! Does this reflect on why I did not achieve my goal? Wasn’t I motivated enough? Have I taken over? Did something come up with me?
      • In this way, it can be recognized more quickly over time what can stand in the form of achieving a goal. “Disruptive factors” are identified earlier and helpful strategies can be developed on how to approach it better next time. TIP: In the area of ​​self-reflection, content areas relating to one’s own social behavior and school work behavior can also be included.
  1. The external reflection or the coaching
    1. Together with a learning companion or learning coach, goals and learning paths are concretized at regular intervals. It is important for the students to be able to show for themselves that successes have arisen from their own performance, but also, and viewed neutrally, why goals were not achieved. The feedback from the learning guide enables other strategies to be dealt with, promotes personal responsibility, and motivates.

In the reflection phase, the emotional world should always be included. How did I feel? Have I lost faith that I can learn how to do it? Was I in a bad mood? How can I help myself so as not to let emotions put me off? Was I proud when I achieved my goal? How did that feel? What did I think/feel about it?

 What helpful strategies for self-control are there?

The Duckworth process model is based on these four stages that the learners go through. Contracts and rewards that you have set yourself are also mentioned here, as well as the topics of self-monitoring, mindfulness, or the consideration of your own values ​​and expectations.

Read Also: Why should school introduce a school planner for students?

 The regulatory phase on the metacognitive level

The learners can assess their level of knowledge, possibly supported by given questions. This is not just about the learning material itself, but what the person has understood from the learning material, what is not correct, what is not at all. As a result, students can independently conclude and decide where and how the material should be deepened and how their own learning behavior should be adapted in order to achieve positive results in the long term.

Tips for introducing a learning diary or logbook for the school

  1. It is essential to plan an introductory lesson to explain the concept of the learning diary to everyone. Ideally, the concept is presented to the learners and their parents and legal guardians. Explain the pros and cons of a logbook vs a school planner. Make sure everyone understands the concept and expectations of the school. It should be clearly communicated how often, at what time of day and what is actually to be documented.
  2. The learners should understand that their logbook is not about spelling or spelling but about shaping and promoting their own academic performance. The advantages of keeping a logbook/learning diary should be clearly in the foreground, especially the importance of being honest with yourself and your own goals and decisions.
  3. The learners must be told in advance whether the keeping of their learning diaries will be included in the grading at the end of the school year. Or whether you can really use the learning diary as your performance diary without having to be afraid of evaluations.
  4. Lessons should be designed in such a way that there is enough time for entries in the logbook. The best resolution is of no use if the implementation is not taken seriously enough.
  5. Especially for students with little experience, it can make sense to include key questions to support the thought processes in designing the individual pages (see below). Older students who already have experience in writing a school logbook tend to benefit from more freedom and less rigid page structures. B.
    • What do I plan to achieve my goals (how do I structure my work)?
    • What have I already achieved, where do I still have problems understanding (where do I stand with my plans)?
    • What can I do to get closer to my goal? Where can I get support if I have problems understanding?
    • Give examples of key questions! (Repeat what you have learned in your own words. Where is the problem? What is needed to understand better content that is not yet sedentary? More practice, research on the Internet, teacher coaching, or maybe ask a teacher or classmate?
  1. With a flexible page design, you can not only make written logbook entries possible. Free sketches allow you to use your creativity in the best possible way and help visual learner types.
  2. Make sure you have an appealing design. We often like to pick up beautiful things.
  3. A discussion of the results with a learning coach should definitely be included in the planning. In this way, negative self-assessments or even emerging feelings of stress can be turned positive.

10 sample questions for the logbook:

  1. What did I already know about XYZ?
  2. What new things have I learned about XYZ? (Here connections are already recognized)
  3. Did I notice anything in particular about this topic?
  4. Do I know this subject from my own experience? Do I have anything to do with it in my environment?
  5. Where will I be able to use this topic in the future?
  6. What have I not yet understood well?
  7. Where will I apply my knowledge in the next few days?
  8. Is there anything else to be clarified or followed up on this topic?
  9. What was my greatest sense of achievement today, what difficulties did I overcome?
  10. What did I enjoy? Where do I notice when I feel uncomfortable, anxious, or overwhelmed?

Achieve learning success regardless of age

A learning diary supports the learning process entirely regardless of the age of the learner. Adults also benefit from the skillful use of cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies. 


Incidentally, new scientific studies indicate that handwritten notes and reading of printed content are more beneficial to memory.



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