Reflective learning has been theorized to be reflection during action (active) and reflection on action (retrospective). This article by Silvia (2013) is a small study which discussed a group of nursing students who did journaling for just over 2 weeks. The study concluded that journaling enhanced experiential learning through reflection.
According to the article, remembering and reflecting helps us change and learn from old interpretations that are rooted in our minds. Nursing education requires a lot of hands on learning experiences, and it is not always possible to think and reflect during busy clinical activity. Journaling can facilitate this “thinking” retrospectively so that the nursing student can learn from the clinical experiences. Journals can also be self-reflective, and the student could learn something about him/herself. Memory and experience can be somewhat preserved by journaling. Student’s journals can help them reflect upon and analyze planning, decision-making, judgments, and feelings; and enable them to recognize where improvements in skill, decision making, and emotional reaction is needed.
The students in this study felt that the journals were helpful, especially for venting feelings. They were more comfortable writing if the journal was anonymous and not used for grades. Some students felt self-conscious or embarrassed if they knew that the journal would be read by others.
I would recommend this article to a peer because, although it is a small study, it provides an example of how journaling can be used in both the clinical and teaching setting. There are multitudes of resources about effectiveness of journaling in all aspects of one’s life, and I believe that journaling can be an adjunct for the nursing student’s learning experience.
Silvia, B. (2013) The reflective journal: A tool for enhancing experience-based learning in nursing students in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice 3: 102-111.