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ENC 3250, Report Project
Dr. Debra Jacobs, Spring 2021
Read this document in its entirety.
The Report Project includes several deliverables. This document presents the project
as a whole, assisting you with understanding how the assignments cohere. You will
need to refer back to this overview several times throughout the project. For that
reason, it is recommended that you save this document to your computer.
This document provides information you will need for working together as a group.
It also includes descriptions of four course deliverables: the formal report (a
coauthored document), the research document (to be completed by each student
individually), and the project description memo and progress memo (both of which
are coauthored documents). There are examples and/or additional instruction for
each of these project deliverables on Canvas (Files).
Your work for the Report Project will center on coauthoring a formal report in
collaboration with a small peer group (typically 4 students). In addition to
coauthored deliverables for which all group members will receive the same grade,
there will be individual deliverables for which students will receive separate grades.
Although the final version of the formal report will not be due until after most of the
other project deliverables have been completed/submitted, you will need to read
the instructions for the formal report right away. Since the work you will do for the
formal report project will culminate in composing a formal report, knowing what the
formal report document entails will be crucial to doing well on the other assignments
for the project.
Groups will be formed early in the semester based on common majors, professional
goals, and other details you provide about yourself in the self-introduction
assignment. Also, you are encouraged to let me know of any preferences you might
have about your group placement.
Your group work will involve collaborating with 2–4 peers throughout the report
project. You will also participate in a specific type of collaborative activity:
collaborative writing. Collaborative writing can involve different degrees of
collaboration. At one end of the spectrum is an individual writer who, through
discussion with and review by colleagues, produces a composition. At the other end
of the spectrum is a group of writers who jointly author a document. While some
assignments for the project will entail collaborating at different points along this
continuum, three major deliverables for the project—the project description
memo, the progress memo, and the formal report—will be coauthored, entailing
the highest degree collaboration.
For this project, a coauthored document will be understood as a document that
contains (approximately) the same amount of written text from each group
member. To decide how to coordinate the process of coauthoring, each group will
need to determine the approach that will work best for all members of the group.
1) Parallel collaboration entails dividing work for a writing task into sub-tasks that
are assigned to each group member or to subgroups of a larger group. For this
course project, that would mean divvying up sections of a document to be
written by group members individually, and then putting the sections together
to constitute a single document. With this approach, it is advisable that time be
set aside for revision, as it will take some time to make all the sections cohere. An
advantage to parallel collaboration is that a first draft can often be completed in
less time than other approaches usually require. However, the time typically
evens out given the time needed for revision.
2) Reciprocal collaboration occurs when all members of a group work together
simultaneously on the writing task. For this project, reciprocal collaboration would
require the greatest amount of time meeting together as a group. However,
spending more time working together as a group does not mean that a reciprocal
approach necessarily results in spending more time on the project overall. An
advantage to reciprocal collaboration is that group members are able to respond to
and adjust each other’s contributions as they are made. Also, due to agreements
made while drafting, there is usually less revision work to be done.
3) Sequential collaboration is more an approach to the project itself than it is an
approach to how you will collaborate. It involves completing tasks according to
what needs to be completed first, second, third, and so on. Sequential
collaboration may entail dividing up work (as with parallel collaboration), or it
may entail group members working together simultaneously (as with reciprocal
NOTE: The approaches listed above are not mutually exclusive. While a given approach might
dominate, any approach can involve elements of the other approaches.
Group Member Roles
There is another approach commonly used for collaborating—role-distributed
collaboration—which I am describing here rather than with the above list of
approaches to coauthoring. My reason for not including it in the list above will
become clear as you continue reading.
Role-distributed collaboration divides responsibilities according to group member
roles. I am not including this approach as an approach to coauthoring, as all group
members are to serve equally in the role of writer for the coauthored documents.
(For the formal report, this responsibility includes compiling bibliographic info for
sources used.) After all, this is a writing course, so I believe it is imperative that all
students gain the same amount of practice with the kinds of writing this course
entails. However, each group will need to establish other group member roles to
ensure that responsibilities for the project are distributed evenly, completed on
time, and done correctly.
As reflected by the roles listed below, I will endeavor to create groups of four
students. If circumstances require that I create a group of three or five, I will
communicate with the given group(s) about how to tailor these roles accordingly.
1) Project Manager (Team Leader). The job of the project manager is to ensure that
tasks are completed on schedule. The person in this role should have strong
leadership abilities and organizational skills. Two main responsibilities of the
project manager are 1) creating the schedule/s for completing the coauthored
documents and 2) making sure that everyone remains on schedule and focused
throughout the project. The project manager should take the lead role in guiding
group meetings, which includes concluding each meeting with a recap of what
has been decided. See Group Work Records, below.
2) Writing Editor. This role should be held by the strongest writer in the group.
There should be a consensus of all group members about the written content to
include in the coauthored documents, and each group member is to take an
equal role in the drafting process (by whichever coauthoring approach listed
above is taken). The responsibility of the writing editor to ensure that all
written content is accurate and coheres in a unified manner. To do so, the
writing editor should request, as needed, additional work from group members.
For example, if a group member has forgotten to provide bibliographic info for
the sources used, the writing editor should contact the group member. Or, if a
group member has drafted a section of the document and that section is riddled
with errors, the writing editor should request that the group member take time
to rewrite the section. Additionally, the writing editor should share edited work
with the entire group prior to submitting any given assignment for grading. For
although the writing editor has the specific role of editing coauthored documents
for accuracy, stylistic consistency, and grammaticality, all group member will
receive the same grade for the coauthored documents. Thus, all group members
must assume responsibility for all aspects of the final report, which in this case
means double-checking a coauthored document for accuracy and grammaticality.
3) Design Editor. This role should be held by a group member who has strong desk-
top publishing skills. All members are to contribute ideas about layout and design
(including format matters, such as font, headings, indents, bullets, etc.; and visual
elements, such as use of color, size/placement of graphics/images, etc.). It is the
design editor’s responsibility to implement the design decisions made. To assist
group members with adhering to these decisions, the design editor should provide
the group with templates that reflect group consensus. Also, the design editor
should request additional work from group members, as needed. The tone of
document design should match the tone of the document. For example, if the
group agreed that the overall tone of the formal report should be cheerful and
upbeat, the graphics/images contributed by group members should fit with that
tone. If a group member were to submit graphics/images that conflicted with what
was agreed upon, the design editor should ask that group member to redo those
visuals so that they better cohere with other design elements of the document.
Just as your coauthored documents are to cohere with respect to writing, the
documents should cohere with respect to design.
4) Project Assistant. The role of project assistant should be held by a group member
with strong teamwork and interpersonal skills—someone highly responsible and
invested in the project, attentive to group dynamics, and capable of diplomacy. It
would also be helpful for the project assistant to have decent writing abilities. It
will be the duty of the project assistant to recognize ways to assist the other
three team members in various ways, such as:
▪ Coordinating with the project manager to help, if needed, with setting up
means for meeting/collaborating (such as Teams, GoogleDocs, etc.) and
assisting group members, as needed, with how to use the selected means.
▪ Communicating with the group and the instructor to schedule and coordinate
the required group-instructor phone conference. It will be necessary to
determine which group member will “host” the call and by what means. A
simple way to hold the phone conference is via a group phone call. Unless all
group members use an android phone, a group member who uses an iPhone
should host the call. (That’s because iPhone users are able to host a call with
both iPhone and android users.) Or, a group member who knows how to
conference all via Teams should be the person to host the call.
Note: The group-instructor phone conferences are on our course schedule for the first
week of March. I will provide additional information via a whole-class announcement
toward the end of February.
Assisting the writing editor. For example, to ease the writing editor’s workload,
the project assistant might be tasked with collecting the bibliographic details
for sources used by each group member in order to compose a first draft of the
bibliography for the formal report. The writing editor would then review the
draft for accuracy. (Note that this is just one among other possible examples.)
▪ Required: Serving in the role of referee. Again, the project assistant should
possess strong teamwork and interpersonal skills, as the project assistant role
entails the ability to work well with others. What’s more, the project assistant
is to help ensure that all group members work well together. As needed, the
project assistant will act as group referee, calling for a vote when group
discussions are not leading to consensus. Or, it might be that a given matter
should be shared with me, whether to receive my input about a decision to
be made or to clarify a source of confusion the group might have about the
Group Work Records
Perhaps the most important thing to do during a group meeting is take notes,
especially notes about decisions made. All group members should take notes.
Someone might have heard something that others didn’t, or someone might have
misheard something. Therefore, at the end of a group meeting, the project
manager should call upon the group to compare notes and otherwise provide a
recap of what has been decided. By having all group members take notes, the group
will end up with a more robust record.
Among other decisions made, decisions about what is to be completed next need to
be specified. All group members should have specific tasks to work on from one
group meeting to the next, along with due dates. Group members also need to be
clear on how work is to be shared.
Maintaining accurate record-keeping is crucial to making progress on the work that
needs to be completed for the formal report. As you will find, you will also need
your notes/record-keeping to compose two other documents required for the
report project: a project description memo and a progress memo. Overviews of
these documents are provided below.
Group Work Grade
Students will receive individual grades for group work based on assessments from
group members, info from the progress memo, the quality of written contributions
to the coauthored documents, and fulfillment of the given group member role (along
with instructor observations and other indicators of the group performance).
Group Work Learning Objectives
Establish and adhere to effective ground rules for a group project.
Establish equitable plans and schedules; complete tasks according to schedule.
Understand responsibilities of group member roles and critically assess your
own and other group members’ strengths/weaknesses to determine roles.
Set up and utilize effective communication systems for maintaining contact
and collaborating with group.
Communicate effectively with group members, remaining mindful of others’
feelings and motivations; listen to and reflect on different points of view in a
nonjudgmental manner, maintaining willingness to compromise.
Plan and execute group meetings; utilize meeting time productively.
The report project will center on coauthoring a formal report. Like any genre, a
formal report has a set of structuring and stylistic principles. There are, however,
many kinds of formal reports—feasibility reports, sales reports, business plans,
marketing reports, financial reports, among others—each differing to varying
degrees with respect to types of content, organizing and design features, stylistic
elements, and other various matters. Of course, there are also variations to any
given type of report. Companies will have their own internal policies and protocols,
audience and purpose will vary, size and scope will differ.
For this project, students will collaborate with their group members to coauthor a
recommendation report. A recommendation report identifies a problem, a need, or
goal; evaluates alternatives; and provides recommendations based on research and
evidence. Because the purpose of this type of formal report is to influence decision
making, a recommendation report is typically more overtly persuasive than other
types of reports.
The purpose of your group’s coauthored recommendation report will be to promote
volunteer involvement by USF students in a cause/issue selected by your group. To
establish the need for volunteer support, you will provide information about the
cause/issue, focusing especially on the local community (as defined by your group).
Initially, your group will need to identify local organizations that address the
cause/issue selected and offer volunteer opportunities. There are likely to be several.
Even though you will not be reporting in depth on every organization you find, you
will need to compile basic information about all the organizations, such as name,
contact information, and the like. Including a relatively comprehensive list in the
formal report is necessary for establishing credibility.
From the organizations found, you will select the 3-4 that you will recommend. Your
selection will be based on criteria you develop for assessing the organizations and,
especially, the suitability to USF students of service opportunities they make available.
The recommendation section of the formal report will consist of your detailed
discussions of the chosen organizations with reference to your criteria.
In addition to reflecting carefully thought-out format/design principles, the report is
to feature visual representations of data/information. At least one per student of
these visuals is to be the given student’s original creation—see Research Document,
below). Also, because the formal report involves conducting research, the report is to
include a bibliography.
Formal Report Learning Objectives
Understand and apply the conventions of a report.
Develop sections of a report appropriate to audience and purpose.
Integrate evidence gathered from research to support an argument; utilize a
consistent documentation style (whether APA or MLA) to provide appropriate
in-text citations of sources and compile a bibliography.
Include visual representations of data/information to enhance an argument.
Apply the stylistic conventions of professional writing to craft an effective
argument that emphasizes clarity, concision, and accuracy.
Apply principles of document design to create a visually appealing document
designed for readability.
The report project will require a considerable amount of research, work for which is
to be evenly distributed within your peer group. Because writing the recommendation
report relies so heavily on research, it is essential to the success of the project that
groups get started on their research right away.
Each student will be responsible for compiling a research document that includes:
1) Findings from both secondary and primary research.
2) A data visualization and an infographic (both created by the student).
Secondary and Primary Research for Report Project
Secondary research is research that already exists. Information is found as such,
having already been authored in some manner by someone else. Each student is to
compile research from a minimum of five different secondary sources.
Primary research is original to the researcher whose first-hand research activity and
data/information collection brought information into existence as such. Each
student is to create and implement at least one primary research instrument. Both
the instrument and the results are to be included in the research document.
▪ Reports by government agencies,
▪ Books, journal articles, newspapers
▪ Websites, social media (Facebook,
YouTube, Twitter), TV documentaries
▪ Interviews with experts, authorities,
▪ Surveys of target populations
▪ Observation logs, which may include
photos taken by the observer
Both your secondary and primary research for the report project will require you to
think critically and creatively about the type of information you need and the best
way to get that information. If a resource can supply information you need, then it is
the right resource for the job.
To promote USF student involvement in the cause/issue selected, your group will
need to conduct research on the cause/issue, particularly in the context of the
local community. Among other sources, you will likely find government reports or
agency fact sheets helpful, especially for finding demographic information and other
various statistical data.
Since your report will focus on 3-4 organizations that offer volunteer opportunities
available to USF students ...