“a kind of writing that records one’s practices in order to learn from past experiences.” In this exercise, events and ideas are used for later reflection, and “the process of writing itself helps trigger insight about teaching.” Thus, a “reflective journal facilitates teachers to reflect on their teaching and then generate feedback for the improvement of their classroom practices.”
To confirm this hypothesis, the researchers investigated student teachers’ perception of writing reflective journals for their practicum class. The study was conducted at a U.S. Mid-Western university over the course of a year with 10 student teachers who were working towards their Masters’ degree in Linguistics.
At the end of each week, these student teachers were required to write a one-page reflective journal regarding their experiences, weaknesses, and strengths of their teaching.
Based on their interviews, “the participants viewed a reflective journal as a medium for self-improvement (...) The majority of the participants in this study agreed on the significance of reflective journals; they suggested that journaling can improve their teaching and also promote teaching conscientiousness. For instance, one student teacher said:
“I am not used to writing journals (it is a kind of new for me) but it is very good way to help reflect on what I have done, to evaluate myself and try to improve my teaching skills and keeps me learning.”
Only 2 of the 10 participants were unsure about the benefits of reflective journals. One of them in particular doubted that most teachers can be honest with themselves and indicated other possible strategies such as peer feedback.
Interestingly, the authors note that “those who perceived journaling as beneficial were more experienced ESL/EFL teachers. Most of them had a Bachelor’s degree in teaching ESL/EFL, and had more than three years’ teaching experience. In contrast, the two participants who did not see reflective journals as the best way to reflect had little teaching experience. In spite of their different perceptions about journals, the two participants believe that journals can be used by some, but not all teachers.”
Source: Zulfikar and Mujiburrahman (2018), Understanding own teaching: becoming reflective teachers through reflective journals, Reflective Practice, 19:1, pp. 1-13