Diaries in education: The use of diaries as a tool for student focused and student-led qualitative inquiry

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This paper aims to present diaries as an important tool for student focused and student-led qualitative inquiry. As the theme of this congress is linked to the ways in which qualitative inquiry can offer affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post)Anthropocenic futures, diaries in educational settings can offer a potential for qualitative inquiry to open up theory-praxis opportunities for more meaningful and sustainable education. An ethnographic, longitudinal research project in Applied Linguistics with P6 and P7 pupils in a Scottish primary school is taken as an example. The research aimed to explore manifestations of Language Awareness in primary school pupils who were learning French. They were engaged in writing a diary after each of their French lessons during an academic year. In these diaries, they were asked to verbalise their thoughts on language, and their learning experiences after each language input. The research showed that pupils consciously demonstrated Language Awareness, expressing detailed reflections on language analysis, and that they compared French with English, demonstrating multilingual behaviour. This recorded coexistence of first and second languages in the diaries, allowed students to use their own available resources ‘cross linguistically’ in their efforts to be more efficient in language learning. Implementation of diaries simply as a tactic for retrospection in the process of foreign language learning has shown that the reinforcement of language learning in a diary narrative offers a more individualised understanding of language teaching and learning procedures. The research project with diaries has demonstrated that primary school pupils take the responsibility of their own learning and become self-aware about their own learning procedures, their understanding, and their language skills. They consciously use their all linguistic and no linguistic resources to make meaning and to critically reflect on language and on their own learning. Collecting their reflections in their own diaries becomes an important aspect of their education process as they qualitatively inquiry what and how they learn. The paper concludes that the use of diaries in educational settings can promote student qualitative inquiry and it can enhance student knowledge making practices, engagement, critical reflections, and responsibility for their own learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthropocene
Subtitle of host publicationAffirmative and generative possibilities for (Post)Anthropocentric futures
EditorsNikki Fairchild
Place of PublicationPortsmouth
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-86137-677-0
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
Event6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry: Qualitative Inquiry in the Anthropocene: Affirmative and generative possibilities for (Post)Anthropocentric futures -
Duration: 18 Nov 20222 Dec 2022


Conference6th European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry
Internet address


  • Diaries
  • Student Qualitative Inquiry
  • Language Awareness


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