Study Logs / Reading Dossiers / Learning journals: their pedagogic benefits and value as a means of assessment in English degrees.

Assessment, Student portfolios

Brief description

This project examined the use, content and assessment of study logs/reading dossiers/ learning journals part of an English course and resulted in guidelines for best practice in this area.


The project developed from the introduction in the English Department at Birmingham of a study log as an element of assessment on some year 2 specialist modules. Despite the identification of several possible benefits (for example encouraging better preparation for, and participation in, seminars; giving lecturers insights into the learning process; promoting independent learning), the introduction of such a novel form of assessment brought with it some problems relating to uncertainty of expectations and uncertainty about learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Project design

The project canvassed experience in using study logs in English Departments in the UK and overseas which identified wide and interesting variations in practice. The project also ran a one-day conference in order to share expertise with colleagues elsewhere.

Key findings

The project report aims to give a balanced assessment of both the advantages and difficulties relating to the use of study logs. At Birmingham, the staff and student reaction was found to be fairly mixed, although it was felt that much of the negative reaction could be addressed by giving clearer and more detailed information about what is required in a study log. The project leaders conclude that the use of study logs can be immensely beneficial, the more so if some of the problems identified are addressed in advance.


Project Leaders

  • Professor Steve Ellis, Birmingham University
  • John McDermott, Birmingham University

Research period