The learning log serves many of the functions of an ongoing laboratory notebook. During most class sessions, students write for about five minutes, often summarizing the class lecture material, noting the key points of a lab session, raising unanswered questions from a preceding class. Sometimes, students write for just one or two minutes both at the beginning and end of a class session. At the beginning, they might summarize the key points from the preceding class (so that the teacher doesn't have to remind them about the previous day's class). At the end of class students might write briefly about a question such as:
Such questions can provide continuity from class to class, but they can also give teachers a quick glimpse into how well the class materials are getting across. Some teachers pick up the complete learning logs every other week to skim through them, and others pick up a single response, particularly after introducing a key concept. These occasional snapshots of students comprehension help teachers quickly gauge just how well students understand the material. Teachers can then tailor the following class to clarify and elaborate most helpfully for students.
Many teachers assign several of the WTL activities described in this section to be completed for the learning log.