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Research Report Assignment Sheet
PowerPoint with text equivalent of 7 pages, 20%
(“messy draft” text to be turned turned in by all students)
Goal: Write an informational research report (not a persuasive one—it will not contain “recommendations”) from at least 7 substantial sources using PowerPoint to create a multimodal version (version that employs more than text to communicate its ideas e.g. images, graphs, font colors, etc.).
Topic: Chose any topic related to business about which you are interested in knowing more. [Note: do NOT use any topic you have used in another class project without my permission! For this assignment, you need to learn how to find information on topics, not reproduce a case study or other paper.]
- Once you have a topic, contemplate its potential business implications then create a scenario that includes an audience (a hypothetical boss) who would be interested in your topic and imagine a purpose (make up who and why they would ask you to write an informational report— what is the business problem or opportunity that your boss needs information on in order to respond. This information will handed in with your assignment via BB and will appear on your title slide)
- Draft the report in Word with this audience in mind (consider questions related to purpose and audience, such as how much background your boss might need, what kind of language and tone you should use, how formal if your business discourse, whether you should define certain terms for this boss, etc.) However, don’t spend a lot of time on wording or formatting at this stage—e.g. don’t worry about sentence structure, word choices, formatting, etc and take advantage of bullets, outlines, notes, copy/pasting from other documents etc. (with the latter, make sure you include a link to give credit where credit is due and so that you don’t lose track of the source when you need to cite it in the final report). You will submit this draft to BB with your multimodal version, however, the messy draft will not be graded. Because you are grappling with new the challenges posed by new modalities, you are at risk for cognitive overload, where the basics suffer as you reach beyond your usual experiences. Given this, it is important to craft the main messages and plan the organization before getting into the process of employing other modalities. Your messy draft will serve as evidence that you thought carefully about the content of the report before you composed the multimodal version. You MUST write a draft before you compose the multimodal version.
- Transpose the report to PowerPoint by creating pages that effectively employ the multimodal devices available through this software (e.g. fonts, color, text, the integration of images or video, use of bullets and headings to organize information, links to other sites, etc.). Remember: this is NOT a presentation to a live audience; it’s a research report only! You will never present this, but will ONLY turn it in.
- Like any good report, include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
- The introduction should provide a thesis and a forecast (e.g. Tesla is poised to change the market for electric cars [thesis] because they _____, consumers _____, and the manufacturing is ______. [forecast/”preview”]) Keep in mind that the elegant rule of three for the forecast/subarguments is often a great way to structure academic assignments and other documents, but sometimes it doesn’t fit what you need to cover in a document in the real world!
- The body should use headings heavily, as they function like topical sentences. You will still need to use transitions to help your reader understand how the information hangs together. E.g. with the Tesla report, Tesla breaks into the ___ market! works as a heading that functions as a way to signal to the reader that now the discussion will be about (will change or transition into) subargument #2.
- Also include a conclusion that recaps your thesis and main argument (bullets are great here). Don’t forget to leave your reader with something to ponder (so they can integrate this new information into what they already know) or circle back to something engaging from the introduction (so they feel a sense of closure).
- Include the following slides:
- Title Slide (with your name and a short description of who the report is for and why you are writing it. E.g. Tesla, Wave of the Future. A Report for New Products Division at Acme Innovations by Joe Smith. November 22, 2014)
- Table of Contents Slide (with titles of slides and their slide number)
- Executive Summary Slide (with the major points of your report clearly and succinctly presented)
- References Slide (include at least 7 substantial references)
- Guidelines for Formatting a Multimodal Report:
- Use detailed, explanatory text that allows your research report to stand alone; check that you have enough evidence to prove your message. (As in any piece of writing, use evidence to assert your claims. E.g. anecdotes, statistics, facts, quotes from experts, convincing images, etc. Be sure to use APA citation format.)
- Use business fonts, sizes 11-16 (All text, other than headings, should be in 11-12 point font. Remember, your reader will be close to the screen, not sitting in a large room as part of a large audience)
- Use bullets instead of paragraphs when information can be listed; check for parallel phrasing/syntax within lists, and check for proper alignment under bullets. However, do NOT use bullets for discussion; never place a single bullet on the page, as one item does not make a LIST.
- Main points may be reinforced on each page in summative, eye-catching text or images that capture the idea.
- Chose background and font colors carefully. A white background improves readability; check contrast by printing in both color and black and white. (You can experiment with alternative colors for this assignment, but consider that color has elements of both appropriateness and effectiveness in any document.)
- Consider “talking headings” to describe the main point in full sentences that employ sentence capitalization rules. When read in sequence across the report, these talking headings convey a cohesive argument (e.g. Tesla may have the technological advantage, but do they have the market?).
- Critical: use transition sentences BEFORE headings to give readers a heads up on the new direction the discussion is taking.
- More critical: use topic sentences AFTER headings to introduce chunks of argument. Topic sentences set context by introducing/summarizing the point you are getting ready to discuss— they function like forecasts to keep a reader’s head in the game. [Yes, you will announce a new topic 3 times!]
- Even MORE critical: before all bulleted lists, provide an explanation that sets the context. Do NOT leave a list of items “widowed” in your report. This is NOT an oral presentation; you won’t be there to explain the significance/relevance of the list. Conventions for reports require that bulleted points are introduced and their significance is explained.
- Use a mix of text and visuals (e.g. fonts, bullets, spacing, images, graphics etc.) on every page, and use them consistently. Make sure the graphics you chose are relevant (e.g. don’t use photos just for visual appeal but as evidence or as examples of what you are asserting in the text). Be sure to refer to the visuals in the text, as these need to be meaningfully connected.
- Avoid an overly informal journalistic or conversational style—it’s a fine line, as conventions in tone are always changing. Get a second opinion about how conversational you can be in your organizational context and err on the formal side, when in doubt.
- Number all pages (except for the title page).
|Rubric, Business Improvement Proposal|
(e.g. uses formal business discourse related to the industry in which the business operates; demonstrates focus of purpose in a thesis designed to inform a specific audience/reader; presents relevant information effectively and appropriately by employing graphical tools, such as headings, bullets, etc.
|Clear sense of audience and purpose evident in word choices; in focused, bounded content, and in choice of substantive, value-added information rather than common knowledge.||Audience and purpose are present but could be stronger||Audience and purpose are less clear, and weak parts remain|
(e.g. report includes sections that are identified by headings, banners, bullets, font sizes, etc. and used to serve a specific informational purpose; a clear and cohesive argument builds over the course of the report; includes an introduction with a thesis and forecast of its main points; uses transitions from one section to another; includes a conclusion that restates the main points
|Organization of paper is clear. Each major section contributes to the overarching argument; the author has made this clear by tying discussion sections and assertions back to the main argument during the course of the research report (e.g. ____ is how Tesla is changing electric car market. For subarg #2: The outstanding performance of Tesla’s cars is permanently reshaping customers’ expectations for electric cars.)
|Organization is mostly clear. Most major sections contribute to the overall argument, but author is less consistent at connecting assertions back to the overarching argument.||Organization is confusing. Major sections are missing or are not tied back to the overarching argument. Description and detail seem present but do not support a coherent point.|
(e.g. provides well-articulated, detailed claims supported by evidence (examples, narratives, statistics, quotes, etc); retains tone of authority and objectivity)
|Paper is richly detailed and culminates in a convincing argument.||Paper culminates in an argument but is less convincing than it could be. Some inconsistencies in sections remain.||Paper does not culminate in a convincing argument. Lacks detail and coherence. Several weaknesses need attention or revision|
|Grammar & mechanics
(e.g. business fonts, equivalent to 7 pages of text, includes title, table of contents, executive summary, references page, all pages except title are numbered, grammatically correct and free of typos)
|Writer follows all guidelines for spelling, grammar, usage, mechanics, etc. Wording is strong and sentences have a varied structure/syntax employing a formal tone; meets basic formatting requirements for academic papers||Writer follows most guidelines, but wording in some sections is unclear, uneven, informal in tone, or contains errors, leaving some passages difficult to understand. Some basic formatting requirements are not met.||Writer follows some guidelines, but wording in many sections is unclear, uneven, informal in tone, or contains errors, leaving the paper generally difficult to understand. Basic formatting requirements are not met.|
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