The Learning Diary may be a new mode of assessment for you. So what does it involve?
• The key aim, as the name suggests, is for you to demonstrate your learning, and the ongoing processes of learning over the course.
• You are also being asked to reflect on your own everyday, and on that of others. So whilst you will be drawing on academic ideas and reading from the course, this Learning Diary may be more personal in tone and writing style than one you may already have completed for another course, or is customary in essay writing.
How should you proceed?
• It is perhaps appropriate to think of the task in hand in two stages:
i) The dossier, workbook or scrapbook: Week by week you will be assembling a Workbook of a) illustrative material and any ‘research’ you have done, which may include quite a heavy visual element, b) notes and ideas from your reading, lectures and seminars, c) your written commentary, observations and thoughts, which might include self-reflections on aspects on your own and others’ everyday. Try to contribute something to your dossier every week although some weeks’ entries can be much shorter than others’! This will provide the ‘raw material’ for your diary. It would be advisable to use only one side of paper and stick in newspaper/magazine or other printed material lightly so that it can be removed later if needed for your Diary.
ii) The Learning Diary: towards the end of the spring term, into the Easter vacation and summer, you will begin to select, edit and develop parts of your dossier – exploring just a few themes or issues in more depth, rewriting other sections in the light of later work, doing a bit more ‘primary research’, using some sections as ways to demonstrate your learning over the term (the latter can be boxed off, left as hand written contributions and will not be included in the word length). Your Diary will need to be carefully referenced, and nearer the deadline you will need to add a final section as you reflect back both over the course as a whole, and on what you have written.
• The final piece of work should not engage with topics and reading from every session, though we would expect you to reflect on material across several sessions, and on material encountered at different points in the term. You can draw on your presentation topic but should not devote more than 800 words of the Learning Diary to it.
• Your Learning Diary does require an introduction (maybe what your initial thoughts were about doing the course, or your responses to the first article/ the vacation exercise/introductory lecture), and some kind of conclusion (maybe what you consider most important in terms of what you have learnt). But it can be more fragmentary than the conventional essay. It might be composed of 3 or 4 separate pieces of writing of different lengths, supported by research fragments, notes in progress, plus visual material, or there might be a visual thread running through the Diary which tells a slightly different ‘story’ than is being told through your words. ie. Your piece of work is likely to retain something of the scrapbook. You have the freedom to get away from one of the conventions of essay writing – the building up of a coherent argument across sections. The point of this Learning diary is to build up a sense of the multi-facetedness and complexity of ‘culture and the everyday’.
• However you should adopt the same academic conventions as you use in an essay for quotes and citing sources. Likewise ensure you list your bibliography at the end.
• Your work should try to demonstrate evidence not only of your engagement with core readings but with further articles and chapters whether listed in the course guide, recommended by your tutor, or found by you. As a rule of thumb we would hope for no less than 6 academic references beyond core readings in your reader, at least half of which should relate to topics other than your presentation.
• As is perhaps already evident from the above, we would like your own ‘writer’s voice’ to shine through this piece of work. In writing this Diary you are likely to shift between a third person and first person address. You might like to demarcate these by a different typeface.