After successfully completing my first academic year in Finland, it is safe to say that I am fairly familiarized with the Finnish classroom and lecturing system.
As far as Finnish lecturing and teaching is concerned, there are not significant differences with other places, except for one thing. This is called the ‘learning diary’. It is most likely not a course requirement unique to the Finnish education system, however, I am certain that a lot of foreign students would most likely be unfamiliar with it.
If you are from a country where learning diary is a thing, then congratulations, you will know exactly what the teacher is expecting from you. However, if you are someone thinking ‘What in the world is a learning diary?’, the answer is it is not a journal for you to keep track of what you encounter during your way to school.
Learning diary is a task, where you write an entry regarding a particular subject that you learned about on a specific lecture. What makes learning diary more than just a note you take in the class while listening the lecture, is the reflection the student provides as the basis of his or her point of view.
The objectives of the learning diary may vary. Besides the content from the lecture and the personal perspective that is put into the learning diary, external sources, for example materials that the student independently found on their own are allowed to be included. These display the understanding and the extent of how much the student has widened his or her scope of knowledge beyond that learned on the lecture.
All in all, if you are a new student at a Finnish university and you are confused when the teacher asks you to write a learning diary as part of the curriculum, do not panic, others around you are most likely pondering on the same questions. At first, it may feel irrelevant and like a chore, however, I promise you that the effort put into a learning diary will eventually pay off tangibly.
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