- 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
- 1 Unit Introduction
- 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
- 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
- 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
- 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
- 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
- 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
- 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
- 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
- Further Reading
- Works Cited
- 2.1 Seeds of Self
- 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
- 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
- 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
- 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
- 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
- 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
- 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
- 3.1 Identity and Expression
- 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
- 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
- 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
- 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
- 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
- 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
- 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
- 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
- Works Consulted
- 2 Unit Introduction
- 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
- 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
- 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
- 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
- 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
- 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
- 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
- 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
- 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
- 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
- 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
- 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
- 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
- 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
- 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
- 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
- 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
- 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
- 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
- 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
- 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
- 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
- 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
- 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
- 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
- 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
- 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
- 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
- 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
- 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
- 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
- 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
- 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
- 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
- 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
- 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
- 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
- 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
- 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
- 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
- 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
- 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
- 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
- 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
- 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
- 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
- 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
- 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
- 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
- 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
- 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
- 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
- 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
- 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
- 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
- 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
- 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
- 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
- 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
- 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
- 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
- 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
- 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
- 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
- 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
- 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
- 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
- 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
- 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
- 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
- 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
- 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
- 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
- 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
- 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
- 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
- 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
- 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
- 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
- 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
- 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
- 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
- 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
- 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
- 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
- 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
- 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
- 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
- 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
- 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
- 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
- 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
- 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
- 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
- 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
- 3 Unit Introduction
- 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
- 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
- 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
- 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
- 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
- 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
- 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
- 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
- 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
- 17.1 “Reading” Images
- 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
- 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
- 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
- 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
- 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
- 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
- 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
- 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
- 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
- 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
- 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
- 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
- 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
- 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
- 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
- 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
- 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
- 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
- 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
- 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
- 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
- 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
- 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
- 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
- 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
- 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
- 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
- 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
- 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
- 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
- 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
- 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Identify the elements of the rhetorical situation for your report.
- Find and focus a topic to write about.
- Gather and analyze information from appropriate sources.
- Distinguish among different kinds of evidence.
- Draft a thesis and create an organizational plan.
- Compose a report that develops ideas and integrates evidence from sources.
- Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.
You might think that writing comes easily to experienced writers—that they draft stories and college papers all at once, sitting down at the computer and having sentences flow from their fingers like water from a faucet. In reality, most writers engage in a recursive process, pushing forward, stepping back, and repeating steps multiple times as their ideas develop and change. In broad strokes, the steps most writers go through are these:
- Planning and Organization . You will have an easier time drafting if you devote time at the beginning to consider the rhetorical situation for your report, understand your assignment, gather ideas and information, draft a thesis statement, and create an organizational plan.
- Drafting . When you have an idea of what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it, you’re ready to draft. As much as possible, keep going until you have a complete first draft of your report, resisting the urge to go back and rewrite. Save that for after you have completed a first draft.
- Review . Now is the time to get feedback from others, whether from your instructor, your classmates, a tutor in the writing center, your roommate, someone in your family, or someone else you trust to read your writing critically and give you honest feedback.
- Revising . With feedback on your draft, you are ready to revise. You may need to return to an earlier step and make large-scale revisions that involve planning, organizing, and rewriting, or you may need to work mostly on ensuring that your sentences are clear and correct.
Considering the Rhetorical Situation
Like other kinds of writing projects, a report starts with assessing the rhetorical situation —the circumstance in which a writer communicates with an audience of readers about a subject. As the writer of a report, you make choices based on the purpose of your writing, the audience who will read it, the genre of the report, and the expectations of the community and culture in which you are working. A graphic organizer like Table 8.1 can help you begin.
Summary of Assignment
Write an analytical report on a topic that interests you and that you want to know more about. The topic can be contemporary or historical, but it must be one that you can analyze and support with evidence from sources.
The following questions can help you think about a topic suitable for analysis:
- Why or how did ________ happen?
- What are the results or effects of ________?
- Is ________ a problem? If so, why?
- What are examples of ________ or reasons for ________?
- How does ________ compare to or contrast with other issues, concerns, or things?
Consult and cite three to five reliable sources. The sources do not have to be scholarly for this assignment, but they must be credible, trustworthy, and unbiased. Possible sources include academic journals, newspapers, magazines, reputable websites, government publications or agency websites, and visual sources such as TED Talks. You may also use the results of an experiment or survey, and you may want to conduct interviews.
Consider whether visuals and media will enhance your report. Can you present data you collect visually? Would a map, photograph, chart, or other graphic provide interesting and relevant support? Would video or audio allow you to present evidence that you would otherwise need to describe in words?
Another Lens. To gain another analytic view on the topic of your report, consider different people affected by it. Say, for example, that you have decided to report on recent high school graduates and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the final months of their senior year. If you are a recent high school graduate, you might naturally gravitate toward writing about yourself and your peers. But you might also consider the adults in the lives of recent high school graduates—for example, teachers, parents, or grandparents—and how they view the same period. Or you might consider the same topic from the perspective of a college admissions department looking at their incoming freshman class.
Quick Launch: Finding and Focusing a Topic
Coming up with a topic for a report can be daunting because you can report on nearly anything. The topic can easily get too broad, trapping you in the realm of generalizations. The trick is to find a topic that interests you and focus on an angle you can analyze in order to say something significant about it. You can use a graphic organizer to generate ideas, or you can use a concept map similar to the one featured in Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text.”
Asking the Journalist’s Questions
One way to generate ideas about a topic is to ask the five W (and one H) questions, also called the journalist’s questions : Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Try answering the following questions to explore a topic:
Who was or is involved in ________?
What happened/is happening with ________? What were/are the results of ________?
When did ________ happen? Is ________ happening now?
Where did ________ happen, or where is ________ happening?
Why did ________ happen, or why is ________ happening now?
How did ________ happen?
For example, imagine that you have decided to write your analytical report on the effect of the COVID-19 shutdown on high-school students by interviewing students on your college campus. Your questions and answers might look something like those in Table 8.2 :
Asking Focused Questions
Another way to find a topic is to ask focused questions about it. For example, you might ask the following questions about the effect of the 2020 pandemic shutdown on recent high school graduates:
- How did the shutdown change students’ feelings about their senior year?
- How did the shutdown affect their decisions about post-graduation plans, such as work or going to college?
- How did the shutdown affect their academic performance in high school or in college?
- How did/do they feel about continuing their education?
- How did the shutdown affect their social relationships?
Any of these questions might be developed into a thesis for an analytical report. Table 8.3 shows more examples of broad topics and focusing questions.
Because they are based on information and evidence, most analytical reports require you to do at least some research. Depending on your assignment, you may be able to find reliable information online, or you may need to do primary research by conducting an experiment, a survey, or interviews. For example, if you live among students in their late teens and early twenties, consider what they can tell you about their lives that you might be able to analyze. Returning to or graduating from high school, starting college, or returning to college in the midst of a global pandemic has provided them, for better or worse, with educational and social experiences that are shared widely by people their age and very different from the experiences older adults had at the same age.
Some report assignments will require you to do formal research, an activity that involves finding sources and evaluating them for reliability, reading them carefully, taking notes, and citing all words you quote and ideas you borrow. See Research Process: Accessing and Recording Information and Annotated Bibliography: Gathering, Evaluating, and Documenting Sources for detailed instruction on conducting research.
Whether you conduct in-depth research or not, keep track of the ideas that come to you and the information you learn. You can write or dictate notes using an app on your phone or computer, or you can jot notes in a journal if you prefer pen and paper. Then, when you are ready to begin organizing your report, you will have a record of your thoughts and information. Always track the sources of information you gather, whether from printed or digital material or from a person you interviewed, so that you can return to the sources if you need more information. And always credit the sources in your report.
Kinds of Evidence
Depending on your assignment and the topic of your report, certain kinds of evidence may be more effective than others. Other kinds of evidence may even be required. As a general rule, choose evidence that is rooted in verifiable facts and experience. In addition, select the evidence that best supports the topic and your approach to the topic, be sure the evidence meets your instructor’s requirements, and cite any evidence you use that comes from a source. The following list contains different kinds of frequently used evidence and an example of each.
Definition : An explanation of a key word, idea, or concept.
The U.S. Census Bureau refers to a “young adult” as a person between 18 and 34 years old.
Example : An illustration of an idea or concept.
The college experience in the fall of 2020 was starkly different from that of previous years. Students who lived in residence halls were assigned to small pods. On-campus dining services were limited. Classes were small and physically distanced or conducted online. Parties were banned.
Expert opinion : A statement by a professional in the field whose opinion is respected.
According to Louise Aronson, MD, geriatrician and author of Elderhood , people over the age of 65 are the happiest of any age group, reporting “less stress, depression, worry, and anger, and more enjoyment, happiness, and satisfaction” (255).
Fact : Information that can be proven correct or accurate.
According to data collected by the NCAA, the academic success of Division I college athletes between 2015 and 2019 was consistently high (Hosick).
Interview : An in-person, phone, or remote conversation that involves an interviewer posing questions to another person or people.
During our interview, I asked Betty about living without a cell phone during the pandemic. She said that before the pandemic, she hadn’t needed a cell phone in her daily activities, but she soon realized that she, and people like her, were increasingly at a disadvantage.
Quotation : The exact words of an author or a speaker.
In response to whether she thought she needed a cell phone, Betty said, “I got along just fine without a cell phone when I could go everywhere in person. The shift to needing a phone came suddenly, and I don’t have extra money in my budget to get one.”
Statistics : A numerical fact or item of data.
The Pew Research Center reported that approximately 25 percent of Hispanic Americans and 17 percent of Black Americans relied on smartphones for online access, compared with 12 percent of White people.
Survey : A structured interview in which respondents (the people who answer the survey questions) are all asked the same questions, either in person or through print or electronic means, and their answers tabulated and interpreted. Surveys discover attitudes, beliefs, or habits of the general public or segments of the population.
A survey of 3,000 mobile phone users in October 2020 showed that 54 percent of respondents used their phones for messaging, while 40 percent used their phones for calls (Steele).
- Visuals : Graphs, figures, tables, photographs and other images, diagrams, charts, maps, videos, and audio recordings, among others.
Thesis and Organization
Drafting a thesis.
When you have a grasp of your topic, move on to the next phase: drafting a thesis. The thesis is the central idea that you will explore and support in your report; all paragraphs in your report should relate to it. In an essay-style analytical report, you will likely express this main idea in a thesis statement of one or two sentences toward the end of the introduction.
For example, if you found that the academic performance of student athletes was higher than that of non-athletes, you might write the following thesis statement:
student sample text Although a common stereotype is that college athletes barely pass their classes, an analysis of athletes’ academic performance indicates that athletes drop fewer classes, earn higher grades, and are more likely to be on track to graduate in four years when compared with their non-athlete peers. end student sample text
The thesis statement often previews the organization of your writing. For example, in his report on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Trevor Garcia wrote the following thesis statement, which detailed the central idea of his report:
student sample text An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths. end student sample text
After you draft a thesis statement, ask these questions, and examine your thesis as you answer them. Revise your draft as needed.
- Is it interesting? A thesis for a report should answer a question that is worth asking and piques curiosity.
- Is it precise and specific? If you are interested in reducing pollution in a nearby lake, explain how to stop the zebra mussel infestation or reduce the frequent algae blooms.
- Is it manageable? Try to split the difference between having too much information and not having enough.
Organizing Your Ideas
As a next step, organize the points you want to make in your report and the evidence to support them. Use an outline, a diagram, or another organizational tool, such as Table 8.4 .
Drafting an Analytical Report
With a tentative thesis, an organization plan, and evidence, you are ready to begin drafting. For this assignment, you will report information, analyze it, and draw conclusions about the cause of something, the effect of something, or the similarities and differences between two different things.
Some students write the introduction first; others save it for last. Whenever you choose to write the introduction, use it to draw readers into your report. Make the topic of your report clear, and be concise and sincere. End the introduction with your thesis statement. Depending on your topic and the type of report, you can write an effective introduction in several ways. Opening a report with an overview is a tried-and-true strategy, as shown in the following example on the U.S. response to COVID-19 by Trevor Garcia. Notice how he opens the introduction with statistics and a comparison and follows it with a question that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).
student sample text With more than 83 million cases and 1.8 million deaths at the end of 2020, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down. By the end of 2020, the United States led the world in the number of cases, at more than 20 million infections and nearly 350,000 deaths. In comparison, the second-highest number of cases was in India, which at the end of 2020 had less than half the number of COVID-19 cases despite having a population four times greater than the U.S. (“COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic,” 2021). How did the United States come to have the world’s worst record in this pandemic? underline An examination of the U.S. response shows that a reduction of experts in key positions and programs, inaction that led to equipment shortages, and inconsistent policies were three major causes of the spread of the virus and the resulting deaths end underline . end student sample text
For a less formal report, you might want to open with a question, quotation, or brief story. The following example opens with an anecdote that leads to the thesis statement (underlined).
student sample text Betty stood outside the salon, wondering how to get in. It was June of 2020, and the door was locked. A sign posted on the door provided a phone number for her to call to be let in, but at 81, Betty had lived her life without a cell phone. Betty’s day-to-day life had been hard during the pandemic, but she had planned for this haircut and was looking forward to it; she had a mask on and hand sanitizer in her car. Now she couldn’t get in the door, and she was discouraged. In that moment, Betty realized how much Americans’ dependence on cell phones had grown in the months since the pandemic began. underline Betty and thousands of other senior citizens who could not afford cell phones or did not have the technological skills and support they needed were being left behind in a society that was increasingly reliant on technology end underline . end student sample text
Body Paragraphs: Point, Evidence, Analysis
Use the body paragraphs of your report to present evidence that supports your thesis. A reliable pattern to keep in mind for developing the body paragraphs of a report is point , evidence , and analysis :
- The point is the central idea of the paragraph, usually given in a topic sentence stated in your own words at or toward the beginning of the paragraph. Each topic sentence should relate to the thesis.
- The evidence you provide develops the paragraph and supports the point made in the topic sentence. Include details, examples, quotations, paraphrases, and summaries from sources if you conducted formal research. Synthesize the evidence you include by showing in your sentences the connections between sources.
- The analysis comes at the end of the paragraph. In your own words, draw a conclusion about the evidence you have provided and how it relates to the topic sentence.
The paragraph below illustrates the point, evidence, and analysis pattern. Drawn from a report about concussions among football players, the paragraph opens with a topic sentence about the NCAA and NFL and their responses to studies about concussions. The paragraph is developed with evidence from three sources. It concludes with a statement about helmets and players’ safety.
student sample text The NCAA and NFL have taken steps forward and backward to respond to studies about the danger of concussions among players. Responding to the deaths of athletes, documented brain damage, lawsuits, and public outcry (Buckley et al., 2017), the NCAA instituted protocols to reduce potentially dangerous hits during football games and to diagnose traumatic head injuries more quickly and effectively. Still, it has allowed players to wear more than one style of helmet during a season, raising the risk of injury because of imperfect fit. At the professional level, the NFL developed a helmet-rating system in 2011 in an effort to reduce concussions, but it continued to allow players to wear helmets with a wide range of safety ratings. The NFL’s decision created an opportunity for researchers to look at the relationship between helmet safety ratings and concussions. Cocello et al. (2016) reported that players who wore helmets with a lower safety rating had more concussions than players who wore helmets with a higher safety rating, and they concluded that safer helmets are a key factor in reducing concussions. end student sample text
Developing Paragraph Content
In the body paragraphs of your report, you will likely use examples, draw comparisons, show contrasts, or analyze causes and effects to develop your topic.
Paragraphs developed with Example are common in reports. The paragraph below, adapted from a report by student John Zwick on the mental health of soldiers deployed during wartime, draws examples from three sources.
student sample text Throughout the Vietnam War, military leaders claimed that the mental health of soldiers was stable and that men who suffered from combat fatigue, now known as PTSD, were getting the help they needed. For example, the New York Times (1966) quoted military leaders who claimed that mental fatigue among enlisted men had “virtually ceased to be a problem,” occurring at a rate far below that of World War II. Ayres (1969) reported that Brigadier General Spurgeon Neel, chief American medical officer in Vietnam, explained that soldiers experiencing combat fatigue were admitted to the psychiatric ward, sedated for up to 36 hours, and given a counseling session with a doctor who reassured them that the rest was well deserved and that they were ready to return to their units. Although experts outside the military saw profound damage to soldiers’ psyches when they returned home (Halloran, 1970), the military stayed the course, treating acute cases expediently and showing little concern for the cumulative effect of combat stress on individual soldiers. end student sample text
When you analyze causes and effects , you explain the reasons that certain things happened and/or their results. The report by Trevor Garcia on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is an example: his report examines the reasons the United States failed to control the coronavirus. The paragraph below, adapted from another student’s report written for an environmental policy course, explains the effect of white settlers’ views of forest management on New England.
student sample text The early colonists’ European ideas about forest management dramatically changed the New England landscape. White settlers saw the New World as virgin, unused land, even though indigenous people had been drawing on its resources for generations by using fire subtly to improve hunting, employing construction techniques that left ancient trees intact, and farming small, efficient fields that left the surrounding landscape largely unaltered. White settlers’ desire to develop wood-built and wood-burning homesteads surrounded by large farm fields led to forestry practices and techniques that resulted in the removal of old-growth trees. These practices defined the way the forests look today. end student sample text
Compare and contrast paragraphs are useful when you wish to examine similarities and differences. You can use both comparison and contrast in a single paragraph, or you can use one or the other. The paragraph below, adapted from a student report on the rise of populist politicians, compares the rhetorical styles of populist politicians Huey Long and Donald Trump.
student sample text A key similarity among populist politicians is their rejection of carefully crafted sound bites and erudite vocabulary typically associated with candidates for high office. Huey Long and Donald Trump are two examples. When he ran for president, Long captured attention through his wild gesticulations on almost every word, dramatically varying volume, and heavily accented, folksy expressions, such as “The only way to be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub that he ain’t got no business with!” In addition, Long’s down-home persona made him a credible voice to represent the common people against the country’s rich, and his buffoonish style allowed him to express his radical ideas without sounding anti-communist alarm bells. Similarly, Donald Trump chose to speak informally in his campaign appearances, but the persona he projected was that of a fast-talking, domineering salesman. His frequent use of personal anecdotes, rhetorical questions, brief asides, jokes, personal attacks, and false claims made his speeches disjointed, but they gave the feeling of a running conversation between him and his audience. For example, in a 2015 speech, Trump said, “They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken” (“Our Country Needs” 2020). While very different in substance, Long and Trump adopted similar styles that positioned them as the antithesis of typical politicians and their worldviews. end student sample text
The conclusion should draw the threads of your report together and make its significance clear to readers. You may wish to review the introduction, restate the thesis, recommend a course of action, point to the future, or use some combination of these. Whichever way you approach it, the conclusion should not head in a new direction. The following example is the conclusion from a student’s report on the effect of a book about environmental movements in the United States.
student sample text Since its publication in 1949, environmental activists of various movements have found wisdom and inspiration in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac . These audiences included Leopold’s conservationist contemporaries, environmentalists of the 1960s and 1970s, and the environmental justice activists who rose in the 1980s and continue to make their voices heard today. These audiences have read the work differently: conservationists looked to the author as a leader, environmentalists applied his wisdom to their movement, and environmental justice advocates have pointed out the flaws in Leopold’s thinking. Even so, like those before them, environmental justice activists recognize the book’s value as a testament to taking the long view and eliminating biases that may cloud an objective assessment of humanity’s interdependent relationship with the environment. end student sample text
You must cite the sources of information and data included in your report. Citations must appear in both the text and a bibliography at the end of the report.
The sample paragraphs in the previous section include examples of in-text citation using APA documentation style. Trevor Garcia’s report on the U.S. response to COVID-19 in 2020 also uses APA documentation style for citations in the text of the report and the list of references at the end. Your instructor may require another documentation style, such as MLA or Chicago.
Peer Review: Getting Feedback from Readers
You will likely engage in peer review with other students in your class by sharing drafts and providing feedback to help spot strengths and weaknesses in your reports. For peer review within a class, your instructor may provide assignment-specific questions or a form for you to complete as you work together.
If you have a writing center on your campus, it is well worth your time to make an online or in-person appointment with a tutor. You’ll receive valuable feedback and improve your ability to review not only your report but your overall writing.
Another way to receive feedback on your report is to ask a friend or family member to read your draft. Provide a list of questions or a form such as the one in Table 8.5 for them to complete as they read.
Revising: Using Reviewers’ Responses to Revise your Work
When you receive comments from readers, including your instructor, read each comment carefully to understand what is being asked. Try not to get defensive, even though this response is completely natural. Remember that readers are like coaches who want you to succeed. They are looking at your writing from outside your own head, and they can identify strengths and weaknesses that you may not have noticed. Keep track of the strengths and weaknesses your readers point out. Pay special attention to those that more than one reader identifies, and use this information to improve your report and later assignments.
As you analyze each response, be open to suggestions for improvement, and be willing to make significant revisions to improve your writing. Perhaps you need to revise your thesis statement to better reflect the content of your draft. Maybe you need to return to your sources to better understand a point you’re trying to make in order to develop a paragraph more fully. Perhaps you need to rethink the organization, move paragraphs around, and add transition sentences.
Below is an early draft of part of Trevor Garcia’s report with comments from a peer reviewer:
student sample text To truly understand what happened, it’s important first to look back to the years leading up to the pandemic. Epidemiologists and public health officials had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) published a 69-page document with the intimidating title Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents . The document’s two sections address responses to “emerging disease threats that start or are circulating in another country but not yet confirmed within U.S. territorial borders” and to “emerging disease threats within our nation’s borders.” On 13 January 2017, the joint Obama-Trump transition teams performed a pandemic preparedness exercise; however, the playbook was never adopted by the incoming administration. end student sample text
annotated text Peer Review Comment: Do the words in quotation marks need to be a direct quotation? It seems like a paraphrase would work here. end annotated text
annotated text Peer Review Comment: I’m getting lost in the details about the playbook. What’s the Obama-Trump transition team? end annotated text
student sample text In February 2018, the administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; cuts to other health agencies continued throughout 2018, with funds diverted to unrelated projects such as housing for detained immigrant children. end student sample text
annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph has only one sentence, and it’s more like an example. It needs a topic sentence and more development. end annotated text
student sample text Three months later, Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic. “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.” end student sample text
annotated text Peer Review Comment: This paragraph is very short and a lot like the previous paragraph in that it’s a single example. It needs a topic sentence. Maybe you can combine them? end annotated text
annotated text Peer Review Comment: Be sure to cite the quotation. end annotated text
Reading these comments and those of others, Trevor decided to combine the three short paragraphs into one paragraph focusing on the fact that the United States knew a pandemic was possible but was unprepared for it. He developed the paragraph, using the short paragraphs as evidence and connecting the sentences and evidence with transitional words and phrases. Finally, he added in-text citations in APA documentation style to credit his sources. The revised paragraph is below:
student sample text Epidemiologists and public health officials in the United States had long known that a global pandemic was possible. In 2016, the National Security Council (NSC) published Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents , a 69-page document on responding to diseases spreading within and outside of the United States. On January 13, 2017, the joint transition teams of outgoing president Barack Obama and then president-elect Donald Trump performed a pandemic preparedness exercise based on the playbook; however, it was never adopted by the incoming administration (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). A year later, in February 2018, the Trump administration began to cut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving key positions unfilled. Other individuals who were fired or resigned in 2018 were the homeland security adviser, whose portfolio included global pandemics; the director for medical and biodefense preparedness; and the top official in charge of a pandemic response. None of them were replaced, leaving the White House with no senior person who had experience in public health (Goodman & Schulkin, 2020). Experts voiced concerns, among them Luciana Borio, director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the NSC, who spoke at a symposium marking the centennial of the 1918 influenza pandemic in May 2018: “The threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern,” she said. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no” (Sun, 2018, final para.). end student sample text
A final word on working with reviewers’ comments: as you consider your readers’ suggestions, remember, too, that you remain the author. You are free to disregard suggestions that you think will not improve your writing. If you choose to disregard comments from your instructor, consider submitting a note explaining your reasons with the final draft of your report.
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Reports are informative writing that present the results of an experiment or investigation to a specific audience in a structured way. Reports are broken up into sections using headings, and can often include diagrams, pictures, and bullet-point lists. They are used widely in science, social science, and business contexts.
Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.
Difference between reports and essays
Essays and reports are both common types of university assignments. Whilst an essay is usually a continuous piece of writing, a report is divided into sections. See this overview for more on the differences between reports and essays:
Features of reports (University of Reading)
Reports have an expected structure with set sections so information is easy to find. Science reports may have methods and results sections, but business reports may only have a discussion and recommendations section. Always check what type of structure is needed for each report assignment as they may change. See this overview of different types of report structures:
Sample report structures (RMIT University)
Finding your own headings
Sometimes you are given the choice of how to name your sub-headings and structure the main body of your report. This is common in business where the structure has to fit the needs of the information and the client. See this short video on how to find meaningful sub-headings:
Finding your own report structure [video] (University of Reading)
Purpose of each section
Each section of a report has a different role to play and contains different types of information. See this brief overview of what goes where and how to number the sections:
What goes into each section (University of Hull)
As well as having a different purpose, each report section is written in a different way and they don’t have to be written in order. See these guides on the style and order for writing a report and on the features of scientific writing:
Writing up your report (University of Reading)
Scientific writing (University of Leeds)
Tables and figures
Reports commonly use graphs and tables to show data more effectively. Always ensure any visual information in your report has a purpose and is referred to in the text. See this introductory guide to presenting data:
Using figures and charts (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
If you’d like to read more about the structure and style of reports, see this resource and book list created by Brookes Library:
Writing essays, reports and other assignments reading list
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The term “report” refers to a nonfiction work that presents and/or paraphrases the facts on a specific occasion, subject, or problem. The notion is that a good report will contain all the information that someone who is not familiar with the subject needs to know. Reports make it simple to bring someone up to speed on a subject, but actually writing a report is far from simple. This blog will walk you through the fundamentals of report writing, including the structure and practice themes.
This Blog Includes:
What is a report, reporting formats, newspaper or magazine reports, business reports, technical reports, what is report writing, report writing: things to keep in mind, structure of report writing, magazine vs newspaper report writing format, report writing format for class 10th to 12th, report writing example, report writing for school students: practice questions, report writing slideshare.
- Report Writing in 7 steps
Also Read: Message Writing
A report is a short document written for a particular purpose or audience. It usually sets out and analyses a problem often recommended for future purposes. Requirements for the precise form of the report depend on the department and organization. Technically, a report is defined as “any account, verbal or written, of the matters pertaining to a given topic.” This could be used to describe anything, from a witness’s evidence in court to a student’s book report.
Actually, when people use the word “report,” they usually mean official documents that lay out the details of a subject. These documents are typically written by an authority on the subject or someone who has been tasked with conducting research on it. Although there are other forms of reports, which are discussed in the following section, they primarily fulfil this definition.
What information does reporting contain? All facts are appreciated, but reports, in particular, frequently contain the following kinds of information:
- Information about a circumstance or event
- The aftereffects or ongoing impact of an incident or occurrence
- Analytical or statistical data evaluation
- Interpretations based on the report’s data
- Based on the report’s information, make predictions or suggestions
- Relationships between the information and other reports or events
Although there are some fundamental differences, producing reports and essays share many similarities. Both rely on facts, but essays also include the authors’ personal viewpoints and justifications. Reports normally stick to the facts only, however they could include some of the author’s interpretation in the conclusion.
Reports are also quite well ordered, frequently with tables of contents of headers and subheadings. This makes it simpler for readers to quickly scan reports for the data they need. Essays, on the other hand, should be read from beginning to end rather than being perused for particular information.
Depending on the objective and audience for your report, there are a few distinct types of reports. The most typical report types are listed briefly below:
- Academic report: Examines a student’s knowledge of the subject; examples include book reports, historical event reports, and biographies.
- Identifies data from company reports, such as marketing reports, internal memoranda, SWOT analyses, and feasibility reports, that is useful in corporate planning.
- Shares research findings in the form of case studies and research articles, usually in scientific publications.
Depending on how they are written, reports can be further categorised. A report, for instance, could be professional or casual, brief or lengthy, and internal or external. A lateral report is for persons on the author’s level but in separate departments, whereas a vertical report is for those on the author’s level but with different levels of the hierarchy (i.e., people who work above you and below you).
Report formats can be as varied as writing styles, but in this manual, we’ll concentrate on academic reports, which are often formal and informational.
Major Types of Reports
While the most common type of reports corresponds to the ones we read in newspapers and magazines, there are other kinds of reports that are curated for business or research purposes. Here are the major forms of report writing which you must know about:
The main purpose of newspaper or magazine reports is to cover a particular event or happening. They generally elaborate upon the 4Ws and 1H, i.e. What, Where, When, Why, and How. The key elements of newspaper or magazine report writing are as follows:
- Headline (Title)
- Report’s Name, Place, and Date
- Conclusion (Citation of sources)
Here is an example of a news report:
Business reports aim to analyze a situation or case study by implementing business theories and suggest improvements accordingly. In business report writing, you must adhere to a formal style of writing and these reports are usually lengthier than news reports since they aim to assess a particular issue in detail and provide solutions. The basic structure of business reports include:
- Table of Contents
- Executive summary
The main purpose of the technical report is to provide an empirical explanation of research-based material. Technical report writing is generally carried out by a researcher for scientific journals or product development and presentation, etc. A technical report mainly contains
- Experimental details
- Results and discussions
- Body (elaborating upon the findings)
Must Read: IELTS Writing Tips
A report is a written record of what you’ve seen, heard, done, or looked into. It is a well-organized and methodical presentation of facts and results from an event that has already occurred. Reports are a sort of written assessment that is used to determine what you have learned through your reading, study, or experience, as well as to provide you hands-on experience with a crucial skill that is often used in the business.
Before writing a report, there are certain things you must know to ensure that you draft a precise and structured report, and these points to remember are listed below:
- Write a concise and clear title of the report.
- Always use the past tense.
- Don’t explain the issue in the first person, i.e. ‘I’ or ‘Me’. Always write in the third person.
- Put the date, name of the place as well as the reporter’s name after the heading.
- Structure the report by dividing it into paragraphs.
- Stick to the facts and keep it descriptive.
Must Read: IELTS Sample Letters
The format of a report is determined by the kind of report it is and the assignment’s requirements. While reports can have their own particular format, the majority use the following general framework:
- Executive summary: A stand-alone section that highlights the findings in your report so that readers will know what to expect, much like an abstract in an academic paper. These are more frequently used for official reports than for academic ones.
- Introduction: Your introduction introduces the main subject you’re going to explore in the report, along with your thesis statement and any previous knowledge that is necessary before you get into your own results.
- Body: Using headings and subheadings, the report’s body discusses all of your significant findings. The majority of the report is made up of the body; in contrast to the introduction and conclusion, which are each only a few paragraphs long, the body can span many pages.
- In the conclusion, you should summarize all the data in your report and offer a clear interpretation or conclusion. Usually, the author inserts their own personal judgments or inferences here.
Report Writing Formats
It is quintessential to follow a proper format in report writing to provide it with a compact structure. Business reports and technical reports don’t have a uniform structure and are generally based on the topic or content they are elaborating on. Let’s have a look at the proper format of report writing generally for news and magazines and the key elements you must add in a news report:
To Read: How to Learn Spoken English?
The report writing structure for students in grades 10 and 12 is as follows.
- Heading : A title that expresses the contents of the report in a descriptive manner.
- Byline : The name of the person who is responsible for drafting the report. It’s usually included in the query. Remember that you are not allowed to include any personal information in your response.
- (introduction) : It The ‘5 Ws,’ or WHAT, WHY, WHEN, and WHERE, as well as WHO was invited as the main guest, might be included.
- The account of the event in detail : The order in which events occurred, as well as their descriptions. It is the primary paragraph, and if necessary, it can be divided into two smaller paragraphs.
- Conclusion : This will give a summary of the event’s conclusion. It might include quotes from the Chief Guest’s address or a summary of the event’s outcome.
Now that you are familiar with all the formats of report writing, here are some questions that you can practice to understand the structure and style of writing a report.
- You are a student of Delhi Public School Srinagar handling a campus magazine in an editorial role. On the increasing level of global warming, write a report on the event for your school magazine.
- On the Jammu-Srinagar highway, a mishap took place, where a driver lost his control and skidded off in a deep gorge. Write a report on it and include all the necessary details and eyewitness accounts.
- As a reporter of Delhi times, you are assigned to report on the influx of migrants coming from other states of the country. Take an official statement to justify your report.
- There is a cultural program in Central park Rajiv Chowk New Delhi. The home minister of India is supposed to attend the event apart from other delegates. Report the event within the 150-200 word limit.
- Write today’s trend of Covid 19 cases in India. As per the official statement. include all the necessary details and factual information. Mention the state with a higher number of cases so far.
- In Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium New Delhi, a table tennis tournament was held between Delhi public school New Delhi and DPS Punjab. Report the event in 250-300 words.
Also Read: Formal Letter Format, Types & Samples
Report Writ ing in 7 steps
- Choose a topic based on the assignment
- Conduct research
- Write a thesis statement
- Prepare an outline
- Write a rough draft
- Revise and edit your report
- Proofread and check for mistakes
Make sure that every piece of information you have supplied is pertinent. Remember to double-check your grammar, spelling, tenses, and the person you are writing in. A final inspection against any structural criteria is also important. You have appropriately and completely referenced for an academic work. Check to make sure you haven’t unintentionally, purposefully, or both duplicated something without giving credit.
Any business professional’s toolkit must include business reports. Therefore, how can you create a thorough business report? You must first confirm that you are familiar with the responses to the following three questions.
Every company report starts with an issue that needs to be fixed. This could be something straightforward, like figuring out a better way to organise procuring office supplies, or it could be a more challenging issue, like putting in place a brand-new, multimillion-dollar computer system.
You must therefore compile the data you intend to include in your report. How do you do this? If you’ve never conducted in-depth research before, it can be quite a daunting task, so discovering the most efficient techniques is a real plus.
Hopefully, this blog has helped you with a comprehensive understanding of report writing and its essential components. Aiming to pursue a degree in Writing? Sign up for an e-meeting with our experts at Leverage Edu and we will help you in selecting the best course and university as well as sorting the admission process to ensure that you get successfully shortlisted.
A writer with more than 10 years of experience, including 5 years in a newsroom, Ankita takes great pleasure in helping students via study abroad news updates about universities and visa policies. When not busy working you can find her creating memes and discussing social issues with her colleagues.
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- 21 Report Writing
Give students 5-10 minutes to brainstorm a list of words or phrases associated with "reports." Suggest that they consider the form, content, voice, and style of reports during their brainstorming sessions. Ask for volunteers to share some of their ideas. It's likely you'll hear some variety of these words: "fact-driven," "serious," "academic," "scientific," and so on.
Commend your students for their ideas, and then discuss how it's tempting to think that reports must include “just the facts.” Discuss how reports that focus on scientific research, observations, or interviews should share with the reader the main points about the topic. However, a careful reading of most reports shows that they do much more. For example, the writers of the samples in this chapter analyze, synthesize, and reflect upon the information in their reports in personal, charismatic, and poignant ways. The writers are able to do so because they have a sincere interest in the topics. For students to write successful reports, they too will need to choose topics they truly care about.
Think About It
“There is no human being from whom we cannot learn something if we are interested enough to dig deep.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
State Standards Covered in This Chapter
LAFS Covered in This Chapter
Lafs.1112.w.1.2, lafs.1112.w.2.4, lafs.1112.w.2.5, lafs.1112.w.3.8, lafs.1112.ri.1.1, lafs.1112.ri.1.2, lafs.1112.ri.3.7, lafs.1112.w.3.7, lafs.1112.ri.2.5, lafs.1112.ri.2.6, lafs.1112.w.1.3, lafs.1112.ri.1.3, lafs.1112.w.2.6, lafs.1112.w.3.9, lafs.1112.ri.2.4, teks covered in this chapter, 110.38.c.10.b, 110.39.c.10.b, 110.38.c.9.a, 110.39.c.9.a, 110.38.c.5.c, 110.38.c.9.b.i, 110.39.c.9.b.i, 110.38.c.5.f, 110.38.c.9.b.ii, 110.39.c.5.f, 110.39.c.9.b.ii, 110.38.c.9.d, 110.39.c.9.d, 110.38.c.9.c, 110.39.c.9.c, 110.38.c.11.e, 110.38.c.11.f, 110.38.c.11.g, 110.39.c.11.e, 110.39.c.11.f, 110.39.c.11.g, 110.38.c.4.f, 110.38.c.7.d.i, 110.39.c.4.f, 110.39.c.5.c, 110.39.c.7.d.i, 110.38.c.4.g, 110.38.c.5.d, 110.39.c.4.g, 110.39.c.5.d, 110.38.c.11, 110.39.c.11, 110.38.c.7.d.ii, 110.38.c.7.e.i, 110.39.c.7.d.ii, 110.39.c.7.e.i, 110.38.c.10.a, 110.39.c.10.a, 110.38.c.9.e, 110.39.c.9.e, 110.38.c.4.h, 110.39.c.4.h, 110.38.c.8.d, 110.39.c.8.d, page 286 from write for college, report writing: quick guide.
Lead your class through the common traits-based qualities of report writing. Then separate students into small groups. Hand out or display examples of reports from newspapers, magazines, Web sites, or other media. Have each group choose one report and answer the PAST questions about it. If time permits, also have them evaluate its use of the writing traits. Lead a discussion of their evaluations.
Using PAST to Understand Assignments
Teach students to analyze writing assignments.
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Page 287 from Write for College
Guidelines: writing a summary report.
Review with students the guidelines for writing a summary report. Then consider these assignment options:
- Assign a single article or chapter for the whole class, connecting the piece with a project, a visiting speaker, and so on. Discuss with students the reason for the selection.
- Divide the class into small groups. Assign each group an article or a chapter. Make the assignment collaborative.
- Allow students to choose their articles or chapters for summarizing. Provide guidelines on length and types of material.
Page 288 from Write for College
Read the sample summary report as a class. Point out how the writer captures the main idea of the article and paraphrases specific ideas that support it. (You can read Einstein's letter here .)
Page 289 from Write for College
Guidelines: writing a compiled report.
Discuss the purpose of compiled reports. Provide the following advice:
- Choose a subject that is current, focused, and interesting to you (perhaps a recent development in technology, popular culture, the environment, or the arts).
- Think of a compiled report as a summary of the available knowledge on a subject. Seek a rich variety of credible sources from the library and online. Make careful notes of the source material including the title, author, and publishing information, which will need to be included in a works-cited page.
- Focus the report around your conclusions about the material’s meaning.
- Remember that unlike a traditional research paper, a compiled report does not involve formulating an original thesis and developing a lengthy argument in its support.
Page 290 from Write for College
Compiled report (student).
Read aloud the first page of "To Hear or Not to Hear." Point out how the writer uses source material to open the report in an interesting way and lead up to a thesis statement.
Page 291 from Write for College
Compiled report (student) (cont.).
As you finish reading the sample report, note the special formatting for the long quotation that begins the new page. Direct quotations that cover more than four typed lines should be set off from remainder of the text on a new line, with each line of the quotation being indented. Reference pages 283 and 326 for more information on long quotations.
Also note that throughout the paper the writer follows MLA style when citing source material (pages 317–334).
Page 292 from Write for College
Compiled report (professional).
Ask students to read the professional report, noting examples of statistics and anecdotes used to support the thesis. Ask for volunteers to cite examples from the text. Then discuss the writer's use of transitional words and phrases between paragraphs (focus on the first sentences of new paragraphs). Mention that these transitions not only make for smooth, cohesive reading but they also magnify how one main supporting idea connects to the next.
Using Transitions to Add Information and Emphasis
Help students add information and emphasis.
Page 293 from Write for College
Compiled report (professional) (cont.).
Read the remainder of the report and side-note material. Note that, like the student report, the professional model follows MLA style.
Page 294 from Write for College
Guidelines: writing an interview report.
Interview reports give students an opportunity to complete primary research. You can assign an interview report as a stand-alone project, or you can integrate the report into a larger project, such as a research paper or more extensive group research project. To introduce interview reports, recite the following quotation to students:
- “The chief reward of [interviewing] is the joy of learning, of coming away from each person with a wider angle of vision on the time I live in.” —Bill Moyers
Review the writing guidelines with students. If possible, bring in sample magazine, newspaper, or online reports that feature strong interviews. Make sure students understand that an interview report goes beyond a transcript of the interview. It should also include contextual information about the interview subject, a description of the subject and interview setting, and, perhaps, personal thoughts and reflections of the writer.
For additional interviewing tips, refer students to page 260.
Page 295 from Write for College
Read aloud the first page of "The Dead Business." Make particular note of the information in the side notes. Express to students that unlike traditional reports, which are written in a formal, academic tone, interview reports may be written with a personal or informal voice, characterized by frequent uses of first-person pronouns, colloquial expressions, and reflective thoughts and feelings.
Also note that the writer does not present the interview in a traditional question-and-answer format. Instead, he creates a narrative with a beginning, middle, and ending.
Page 296 from Write for College
Interview report (cont.).
Continue reading the sample report and side notes. Point out how the report effectively blends explanatory and narrative elements. In the first few paragraphs, the writer cites helpful background information about the topic. In the last few paragraphs, the writer uses sensory details to paint a clear picture of the interview setting.
Page 297 from Write for College
Read aloud the final page of the report and side notes. Focus on how the writer weaves in the interview responses with observations and personal reflections.
Page 298 from Write for College
Guidelines: writing an observation report.
Before leading students through the writing guidelines, discuss the purpose of observation reports, which aim to share the feelings and sensations of being in a particular place at a particular time. Help your students develop their observation skills by stressing the following:
- Observe actively, not passively. Work on employing all five of your senses in the act of observation.
- Avoid trying to be purely objective. Observation activates the senses, mind, and heart—engaging emotions, reason, and imagination. Saturated with impressions, observers become filters for experiences. (Consider sharing the following post on activating the five senses.)
- Aim to make the unfamiliar familiar or the familiar fresh. Taking the reader inside the experience involves detailed and suggestive description, carefully chosen comparisons, and focused reflection on the experience’s impact and meaning.
- Take both yourself and your reader out of your comfort zones.
For their own observation reports, suggest a topic or allow students to choose their own. One possible assignment could be to have students report on their experience observing a public location—a basketball court, park, coffee shop, sporting event, and so on.
Writing a "Showing" Paragraph
Help students show instead of tell.
Page 299 from Write for College
Before reading the sample report, hand out a blank sensory chart . Have students fill in the chart with different sensations from the report. As they read, they should consider these questions:
- Does the report include details for all five senses (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch sensations)?
- Do the details paint a vivid picture of the experience?
- Does the writer help me feel like I'm part of the service trip?
- Is the writing voice appropriate for the topic?
Page 300 from Write for College
Observation report (cont.).
Read through the second page of the report. Make special note of the writer's use of quotations and local color.
Page 301 from Write for College
Read the final page of the sample observation report, highlighting the writer's use of personal thoughts and reflections. Ask students to consider how the tone of the report would change without these details.
Page 302 from Write for College
Guidelines: writing a personal research report.
Open your discussion about personal research reports with a quotation from Lu Po Hua: "Where there is curiosity, a mouse may be caught." Ask students what they think the quote means and how it relates to research writing. Then provide them with some context about the form.
As the name suggests, a personal research report combines elements of personal and report writing by presenting the writer’s experience of researching a personally important topic. It is a less formal version of a traditional research paper, but that doesn't mean it is any less rigorous. Students need to use their best research skills, including exploring experiences, remembering, interviewing, and observing.
Before reviewing the writing guidelines, suggest the following strategies:
- Approach your research as a quest. The topic must be personally important, one rooted in a deep curiosity or concern.
- Strive to use primary sources for your research—experiences, memories, observations, interviews, surveys, even experiments. Secondary or tertiary research should supplement this primary research.
- Focus on the research journey, pointing out discoveries made along the way.
If you don't have a general topic idea in mind for students' reports, suggest one of the following topics:
- An illness, a fear, a disability, a social attitude, a weakness, a memory, or a loss that has affected the student's life or development
- An element of local history—the origins, development, and future of the student's neighborhood, city, or county
Freewriting for Writing Topics
Have students freewrite for topic ideas.
Selecting Topics with the Basics of Life
Use broad subjects to find specific topics.
Page 303 from Write for College
Personal research report.
As a class, begin reading the sample personal research report. Show how the reader creates tension by introducing a problem and relating it to her own life. Point out that the beginning part of all personal research reports should introduce a problem or query that somehow relates to the writer's personal life. Put another way, the opening should create an itch that can only be scratched with more information.
Also point out how the sample paper moves from the personal to the academic. It starts with an anecdote and moves to facts and statistics from sourced material.
Page 304 from Write for College
Personal research report (cont.).
Read through the second page of the paper. Pick out a paragraph and show how it mixes the personal and academic.
Page 305 from Write for College
Lead students through the final page of the sample paper. Note that the paper follows MLA style for in-text citations. When you finish reading, ask students to evaluate the report using the assessment rubric on page 306. (You can download and print the checklist below.)
Page 306 from Write for College
Evaluating report writing.
Recommend students use the report assessment rubric during the revising and editing stages of the writing process. Students can use the same evaluation criteria during peer-revision sessions. The checklist items are applicable to any type of report.
- 01 One Writer's Process
- 02 Traits of Writing
- 03 Prewriting
- 05 Revising
- 07 Publishing
- 08 Improving Sentences
- 09 Building Paragraphs
- 10 Mastering Essays
- 11 Writing with Style
- 12 Writing Terms and Techniques
- 13 Personal Writing
- 14 Narrative Writing
- 15 Explanatory Writing
- 16 Argument Writing
- 17 Literary Response Writing
- 18 Creative Writing
- 19 Conducting Research
- 20 Summaries, Paraphrases, and Abstracts
- 22 Writing the Research Paper
- 23 MLA Research Paper
- 24 APA Research Paper
- 25 Writing in Science
- 26 Writing in Social Studies
- 27 Writing in Math
- 28 Writing in the Workplace
- 29 Reading Nonfiction
- 30 Reading Literature
- 31 Reading Graphics
- 32 Listening and Note Taking
- 33 Speaking Effectively
- 34 Building Vocabulary
- 35 Writing on Demand
- 36 Answering Document-Based Questions
- 37 Taking Exit and Entrance Exams
- 38 Taking Advanced Placement* Exams
- 39 Marking Punctuation
- 40 Checking Mechanics
- 41 Understanding Idioms
- 42 Using the Right Word
- 43 Parts of Speech
- 44 Using the Language
- 45 Student Almanac
A report on a student meeting
Learn how to write a report.
Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.
Improvements to Oak Hall
This report aims to describe problems in Oak Hall of Residence and discuss possible maintenance work to solve them. The two biggest issues were discussed at a meeting on 12 May, which was attended by 165 of the 250 students who live in the building.
Issue 1: temperature in rooms
A number of students complained that the second-floor bedrooms are too hot. Concerns were raised about lack of sleep and students finding it hard to study in their rooms. Air conditioning was suggested as a possible solution.
However, there is no budget left for installing air conditioning this academic year. Also, installation can only be carried out during holidays as students cannot be present in the building while the work takes place.
Issue 2: improving wheelchair access to Oak Café
It was noted that wheelchair users can only access Oak Café from the back and not the front entrance nearer the lifts. This makes access to the café difficult for wheelchair users. The university is looking to improve its wheelchair access in general by installing ramps in key areas and work can take place during term time with no issues for staff or students.
- Conclusion and recommendations
Taking the factors mentioned into account, August would be the best time for the installation of air conditioning. Until then, the university could consider supplying fans to each second-floor room so students can sleep and study comfortably.
The front of the café is recommended as an ideal place to install a wheelchair ramp. This work can take place immediately and should be a priority.
- Start with the aim of the report and say where the information comes from.
- The problem(s) (Give each issue a separate section)
- Assume the person reading the report has asked you to write it and needs only a brief introduction to the situation.
- Use an impersonal, formal style.
- Use the passive to keep the focus off individual people: Concerns were raised about ... . .. was suggested ...
- You should also use objective language for recommendations and conclusions: ... would be the best … the university could consider ... ... is recommended ...
Have you ever had to write a report? What for?
Improvements in the ordering process
Introduction This report aims to describe the main problems in the ordering process at the cafe and discuss possible solutions. The two most significant issues were discussed at the meeting last day, which was participated by members of the order team and managers.
Issue 1: Missing dishes Customers frequently complain about missing or incorrect dishes being delivered. Concerns were raised about customer dissatisfaction and the return ratio. The possible solution is that the order staff should create and pass bills to the chef. The chef then gives them to the waiter to double-check before taking them to the diner.
However, this solution must be approved by the owner before applying in the cafe and carrying out 1-month trial.
Issue 2: There are no tools for customer feedback The owner wants to know the customer experience in the cafe; however, there needs to be tools for that. Evaluation form was recommended as a possible solution. The order team and manager are responsible for making it.
Conclusion and recommendations Taking the factors mentioned into account, two weeks would be the ideal time to apply two solutions. After one month, the team will meet to review the solution's effectiveness.
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Maintenance for building B2 in Gize area This report aims to describe problems in our building B2 and discuss the possible solutions and maintenance work to take place. The two biggest issues were discussed at the neighbors' meeting in 15 April which was attended by 20 neighbors out of 35 who live in the building Issue 1: fixed the water leakage from the bathroom in floor 7th A number of neighbors complained about water leakage from some floors which affected the safety of the building, concerning about the safety arise. replacing the old pipes with the new ones was suggested as a possible solution. However, there is no budget for replacing the pipes this month and replacement can not take place duo to the working day and the presence of neighbors. Issue 2 : lift doors arm broking It was noted the doors of the lift sometimes don't close because of the arm which causes the lift to be hung on on some floors, this creates a lot of problems for the residents of the building and lets them take the stare instead of the lift. We suggest replacing the old broking arm with a new one during the holidays as many residents will be on vacation. Recommendation The maintenance of the lift should take place as soon as possible. Fixed water leakage needs time and budget and a special contractor so the process should start immediately
Have you ever had to write a report? What for? when I was a student at the university, I should have written a report on the progress of my thesis every other month. about what I am doing or what steps I have done successfully. also if something didn't live with my hopes, I would explain why the reasons are. Writing these reports was helpful for me because they would make me use my own efficiency in the best way. meanwhile, they would give me an opportunity to bring up my problems with my professor. because my professor wasn't on the hand always.
Improve quality Introduction This report aims to describe the most important problems in the university main building. On May 30, two important topics were discussed and attended by all maintenance personnel.
Issue 1: Upgrading computer lab equipment Concerns were raised because maintenance staff receive many complaints about the performance of the computers in the main building. It was suggested to buy new computers with current technology. However, the budget will be exceeded if the university purchases new computers, but purchase only specific upgraded parts was recommended.
Number 2: Expand the wellness area It was suggested to expand the wellness area in order to accommodate a larger number of students. This is necessary because students are disgusting because they don't have enough space to play and relax. The staff is looking to expand all areas, but actually the university can improve the wellness area.
Conclusion and Recommendations Taking the factors mentioned into account, better computer parts for labs should be purchased. Expanding the wellness area is the priority, requesting the necessary permission to work outside should be done soon, for now maintenance recommends working inside with small infrastructure changes.
Lack of teaching staff in the department Introduction: This report aims to describe a lack of teaching staff in the department and suggested solutions. This issue was discussed at a meeting on 12 June, which was attended by all of the students. Issue: The students wanted to study up-to-date courses and update the materials of the ongoing courses but the issue is there is no staffing to teach or update the courses. Conclusion and recommendations: The student suggested hiring new teachers or providing paid online courses from famous online course websites for free.
Improvements to Cool Learning Center Introduction This report aims to describe problems in Cool Learning Center and discuss possible solution. The two biggest issues were disscused at a meeting on 2nd of April, which was attended by the office staff and manager who work for Cool Learning Center.
Issue 1: insufficent space Even though the classrooms were intended for 10 students of class size, the number of students is increasing up to 15 at the moment so that the students cannot do the lessons very well due to the insufficent space. Consequently, the ventilation inside the room is not good.
Issue 2: improving bike rack It was noted that some students who come to class by bicycles parked their bikes in the sun where is not secured and the heat can disturb the bikes as well.
Conclusion and recomendations Classroom expansion should be taken into account the fact that large rooms are currently needed. Construction can be started at the beginning of Thingyan holiday.
The bike rack is recommended to do immediately since it is outside the class building and it should be a priority.
This report aims to describe problems in technical school and discuss possible solution to solve them. Issue 1: exams of end academic year will start soon and will be held in the main hall as regard the main hall has no sufficient air conditioning so the students will encounter to problems during their exams.in other hand there is no enough budget left for buying advanced and most powerful new airconditioning . Coclusion and recommendation: taking the factors mentioned in account it is recommended that shall school principal make a session with his assistants to survey of best way to supply enough budget for buying air conditioning for main hall
Improvements to Dental hospital. Introduction: This report aims to describe problems in Vaco dental hospital and discuss problems to solve them.
Issue 1: workers in hospital need overtime to work but unfortunately it was recognized that no one stays and works in overtime because all workers and doctors finished their work in the morning, hospital paid a huge amount of money monthly without any benefit for workers how stay for overtime.
Issue 2: There’s a massive problem in the appointment system which is there are a lot of patients who take an appointment without coming, so a lot of appointments aren’t used.
Conclusion and recommendations: For the first issue installing a machine for checking out who come and when they come it would be a great idea for the hospital. The recommendation for the second issue is banning people who take an appointment without using it that will make people more responsible about it.
Maintenance work in Plaza Hotel Introduction This report aims to describe the current situation in Hotel's kitchen and discuss possible maintenance work to solve them. Issue 1: extractor hood The personnel working there is complained about the main hood. Concerns were raised some months ago about the age of the hood that is no longer fully functional. A new one is suggested as a possible solution. Issue 2: freight elevator It was noted that the freight elevator, used to load/unload from/to the pantry of the hotel, sometimes crashes. Concerns are raised concerning the delay during the loading operations and, as consequence, the extension of working hours. Conclusion and recommendations Taking the factors mentioned into account, next week the Hotel board of directors is going to make a meeting for dealing with these topics. It'll be suggested to use the budget to buy and install a new hood, while, regarding the second issue, one solution that will be proposed is to use the smaller freight elevator placed in the left wing.
Actually It never occured to me to write a formal report until I come accross this English learning website. Things I've learned from here would surely benefit me in the long run. Thanks! I appreciate your work.
This report aims to describe problems in ParkVille Residence and discuss possible solutions. Concerns were discussed at Annual Resident's Association Forum on July 9. The Key Issues are Improper waste disposal and run-down facilities.
Issue 1: Improper waste disposal Number of Residence made a complaint about the garbage bin storage area which is located in a side wall between building 1 and 2. Complaints were raised about the unpleasant odor and uncontrollaby high number of pests. Proper waste management and relocation of garbage bin storage were suggested as a possible solutions.
Issue 2: Improving run-down facilities Concerns were raised about the faulty outdoor fitness equipment and the poor maintaince of swimming pool. This make access difficult for residents. Installation of new outdoor fitness equipment and proper swimming pool maintainance are suggested as an efficient solution. It was discussed during the meeting that the operational expenses will be added to residents monthly association dues and was agreed upon by majority of residents.
It is recommended, maintainace work should be carry out during the day. Swimming Pool Vicinity is an ideal place for residents to enjoy and relax. Maintainance can take place immediately and should be a priority and must be done before the start of Summer Holidays.
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How to Write a Report
- Introduction of your chosen topic
- Content of your chosen topic
- The results of your findings
- Closing it with the conclusion of the report
What Is the Purpose of a Report?
Effective formal report writing example.
Basic Audit Report Writing
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Example Student Report Writing
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The Difference between Essay and Report Writing
How to prepare a report writing.
- The first thing that you should do to prepare when writing a report is of course the chosen topic that you’re going to be reporting.
- Study and understand the chosen topic that you would be writing a report about in order make an effective and informative report.
- Start writing your report to actually experience it on a more hands-on way. You may also see writing examples in doc
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Student Report Templates
Do You Need Help In Making A Summary For A Writing Project? You Can Do That With Our Free Student Report Templates. Available On Template.net, We Have Many Samples You Can Choose For Different Types Of Format Whether It Be For College, Internships, Or High School, We Have One For Your Individual Needs.
Get Access to All Student Report Templates
Reporting your students' academic progress and assessment results are regular for teachers, whether during preschool, elementary, high school, or college. You consolidate your students' grades to submit or input them in your school's registry system, write them in report cards, and inform the students of their test results or grades. With that in mind, you should use our ready-made Student Report Templates to make reporting writing easier and more convenient. These templates are customizable and available in various file formats, including Microsoft Word , Apple Pages , PDF , Photoshop , and Illustrator . Get them today!
How to Make a Student Report
In this sense, student reports are reports that provide a summary of a student's weekly, monthly, or quarterly grade or progress. Teachers write these reports for record-keeping consolidation and presentation to school stakeholders and parents. Below, we have an easy guide on how to make student reports to help you out.
1. Determine the Purpose
A student report can be used for various purposes, including grade reporting, internship reports, and progress reports . Therefore, you should first determine its purpose to ensure you can use the proper outline and include the relevant information.
2. Incorporate School Branding
Student reports are considered school documents ; thus, the need to incorporate images or tokens representing the school to add credibility to the documents. You should include the school name and logo in the reports; if possible, you should also add the school official seal.
3. Add Student Details
Each report should be specially created for each student . Aside from the school identification, you should also include the student's identification details. It is essential to state the name of the student, student number, grade, and section.
4. Include Official Signatories
You can add credibility to the reports by including official signatories, such as the school principal, grade adviser, department head or counselor, or district supervisor . A signature line should be provided on the bottom part of the report.
Frequently Asked Question
How frequently should a teacher submit a student report.
The frequency of creating and submitting student reports depends on the requirements of the school or school district. Some schools require the submission of consolidated grades by the end of every quarter, while others require a monthly progress report.
What are the file formats for student report templates available in template.net?
The website has a wide selection of student report templates that you can download in various file formats, including but not limited to Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Google Docs, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and PDF. All of these templates are editable and printable using most devices.
How do teachers compute grades?
The most common grade computing system used in schools is grade-point average, which follows a 0 to 4.0 grading scale. The grades are computed by dividing the total earned grade points by the total amount of credit hours.
What type of student reports are commonly used in schools?
Most schools use the following student reports:
1. Accident report 2. Performance report 3. Progress report 4. Internship report 5. Student report card
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26 Best Report Writing Topics For Students
Stumped while brainstorming report writing topics? We’ve got your back. Take a look at our list of interesting-to-research report topics for students.
Completing a research report for a high school or college English class can be a great way to show off your smarts or interest in a topic, but figuring out where to start can be challenging. Choosing a topic that interests you is an essential part of getting started. The more curious you are about your chosen topic, the more interested you’ll be in the research process.
Choose from our list of sample essay topics below to show off your writing skills—we have options that work for several types of report writing formats. If you’re still stuck picking your next essay topic, check out our round-up of essay topics about education .
1. Technology’s Effect on Society
2. gun control in america, 3. anxiety and social media, 4. present-day slavery, 5. should assisted suicide be legal, 6. the draft’s history in america, 7. no child left behind: did it work, 8. the bp oil spill: 12 years later, 9. parental leave around the world, 10. the insanity plea, 12. trans rights: at what age should a person be legally allowed to transition, 13. should school uniforms be mandatory, 14. compare the uk and us education systems, 15. discuss the pros and cons of violent tv shows for teens, 16. analyze how peer pressure impacts teenagers, 17. does music have healing powers, 18. analyze the causes of wildfires, 19. discuss the impact of global warming on the environment, 20. how does single parenting impact the upbringing of a child, 21. what are the social impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, 22. the effects of urbanization on wildlife, 23. mental health impact of social media on teens, 24. sustainable farming practices and food security, 25. the rise of e-learning, 26. impact of plastic waste on marine life.
Technology makes our lives easier in many ways, but today’s tech-heavy society can also have detrimental effects. Some people find they must always be reachable due to constant access through email and cell phones, while others appreciate instant access to the people closest to them.
In a research report on how technology affects today’s society, you can focus on both sides, touching on how technology makes life easier and affects relationships and work-life balance. Discuss how technology has positively affected medical care and how the overuse of technology has contributed to health issues (including an increasingly sedentary lifestyle). Be sure to back up your points with background information based on research.
Gun control in the United States is a controversial topic. This type of academic report can either be written as a report that presents both sides of a story or as a persuasive report that argues one side. People who are for gun control argue that access to guns increases the risk of violence in the United States. In contrast, people against gun control argue that guns aren’t responsible for deaths and violence.
While presenting this topic in a formal report, discuss the history of gun control in the United States. You may also want to consider comparing gun violence rates in the United States with gun violence in other countries and comparing gun control laws in the U.S. to gun control laws in other countries. Be sure to check your sources carefully when writing about gun control, and choose unbiased sources as often as possible.
It’s tough to avoid social media in today’s day and age. While many people find social media a valuable tool for keeping in touch with family and friends, others find apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to induce stress. Research shows that using social media can have an addictive effect, as scrolling through a social media app affects the brain’s levels of dopamine, a feel-good chemical.
The high associated with scrolling social media can become addictive. People may find themselves stuck in the downward spiral of scrolling for a dopamine hit, followed by comparing themselves to others, negatively affecting their self-esteem. In a paper on this topic, explore how cutting down on social media can relieve adolescent anxiety and explain how social media can also be used to boost self-esteem positively.
While many think of slavery as a thing of the past, the concept is still sadly alive today. This can be an emotional and tough topic to research and write about. Still, it can educate your readers about the harsh reality of present-day slavery, bringing attention to an issue that often goes ignored.
According to antislavery.org , nearly 50 million people live in modern-day slavery, and approximately 25% of modern-day enslaved people are children. There are many forms of modern-day slavery, including forced marriage, domestic servitude, forced labor, human trafficking, and descent-based slavery (when enslaved children are also forced to work as enslaved people). For your research report on present-day slavery, you may focus on one of these areas or explore the concept of modern-day slavery as a whole.
Many people who have experienced the death of a loved one have struggled to watch them suffer and have wished that there was something they could do to help them end their suffering. In some states in America, assisted suicide has become legal . This means that a person who is terminally ill can work with their medical treatment team to develop a plan to die on their terms.
Some people are against assisted suicide and believe people should be unable to choose how and when they’ll die. In contrast, others feel that allowing people to choose their time of death following a diagnosis of a terminal illness allows them to pass away with dignity.
This report writing topic for students can work as an informational or persuasive essay. If you have strong feelings on the topic, be sure to present both sides of the argument and your personal opinion on your point of view. You’ll also want to be sure to touch on the history of assisted suicide in the United States and views on assisted suicide around the world, as the practice is common in many areas of the world.
The draft in the United States dictates that any male over the age of 18 can be called to military service in times of war. While some people believe that the draft is outdated and should be left behind , others believe that the draft still has a place in America.
This topic can work either as a research report or a persuasive essay. If you can, talking with a military veteran who began their service due to the draft can help bring realism to your report. You may also want to talk with people who left the country to avoid the draft.
While the draft currently can only bring men to military service, some people believe that women should also be able to be drafted. Discussing this aspect of the history of the draft in the United States can add an exciting aspect to your report.
No Child Left Behind was enacted by President George W. Bush and was in effect from 2002-2015. The law rewarded teachers and schools for having high-performing classrooms and penalized schools that did not perform up to par. While some people felt that the law was the right thing to keep schools accountable for student progress, others felt that it kept disadvantaged students at a disadvantage instead of providing teachers and schools with the support they needed to achieve.
While some schools rose to the challenges of No Child Left Behind, others struggled. In an essay on the topic, you’ll need to form your own opinion on whether NCLB was an effective law for education in the United States. You may want to interview educators and administrators working in schools during the No Child Left Behind era to get firsthand opinions on whether the laws were adequate.
Also known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill , the BP oil spill occurred on April 20, 2021, and spilled more than 130 million gallons off the Gulf of Mexico near New Othe Orleans, Louisiana coast. The effects of the BP oil spill are still being felt in the area more than a decade later.
You can go in several different directions while reporting on the effects of the BP oil spill. The animal and plant life in the area is still suffering from the spill’s effects. People in the area are also struggling, especially those who made a living fishing off the coast. Tourism in the area
has also been affected, leaving many people in New Orleans struggling to make ends meet.
The length of your research paper will determine how in-depth you can go with the topic. If you’re writing a shorter research paper, it’s wise to choose one of the topics (how the spill has affected the area’s economy, wildlife, tourism, etc.). If you’re writing a longer research paper, split it into subheadings so you can fully delve into each facet of the topic.
Many parents in the United States struggle to make ends meet following the birth of a child due to the short time that companies are required to give parents after they welcome a baby into their home. While the United Nations recommends that mothers have at least four months to recover after giving birth, the United States has no federal requirement for parental leave .
While researching this issue, it’s key to explain the differences between how new parents are treated in the United States compared to other countries and how this treatment affects both the stress levels and job performance of new parents. You’ll want to be sure to look at both sides of the issue, also explaining how the lack of a federally mandated parental leave policy can affect companies.
In the United States, a person can be found not guilty of a crime because of insanity. This means that the person accused of a crime isn’t found innocent—the court has decided that they could not understand the severity of the crime. Some people argue that people should not be able to plead insanity after committing a crime, as the crime occurred whether they understood their actions or not. Others argue that the insanity defense is necessary to protect people who do not understand the consequences of their actions.
When writing a research paper on the insanity defense, it’s key to include examples from real-life legal cases, such as the Steven Steinberg case (1981) . Mr. Steinberg claimed he was sleepwalking and dreaming about a break-in to his home when he stabbed and killed his wife. Steinberg was found not guilty due to temporary insanity, as the jury decided he was not in his right mind when the crime occurred.
Transgender health has received a lot of attention in the news recently, and one of the most commonly debated topics in the transgender health medical community is at what age it makes sense for people who are transgender to begin taking hormones and undergo surgical procedures that allow their body to be in alignment with their gender identification.
According to AP News , “The World Professional Association for Transgender Health said hormones could be started at age 14, two years earlier than the group’s previous advice, and some surgeries are done at age 15 or 17, a year or so earlier than previous guidance.”
Digging into the current research on transgender health and gender dysphoria can help you determine your position on this issue. Be sure that the news sources you use are current, as research in this area constantly evolves. You’ll want to be sure you’re basing your opinion on the most up-to-date information from the medical community.
In most US schools, school uniforms aren’t mandatory; instead, the school enforces a dress code. Dress codes define the clothing the school board finds acceptable for students. The dress code can vary from school to school, but for the most part, it requires students to wear appropriate clothing that is not overly short, formal, or dressy. Some argue that allowing students to choose their clothing for school promotes individuality and confidence. In other countries in the world, a school uniform is mandatory. The purpose of a school uniform is to eliminate any class issues where some children may be able to afford more fashionable clothes than others. A uniform ensures all students look the same and can be argued to promote a feeling of self-confidence and a sense of belonging amongst the students, removing the pressure on deciding what to wear and meeting peer expectations regarding fashion. Choose a side and argue your case in your report, citing sources and studies.
The education systems in the US and the UK have pros and cons. Some argue that the US approach allows for confidence building through more extracurricular activities, while others argue that the UK prioritizes subjects like Math and English from a younger age. Study the differences in both education systems and choose which one you think is most beneficial to children. Does one education system set students up for success more than the other? Answer this in your own words to create an engaging argument.
Violent TV shows can have positive and negative impacts on teens worldwide. In this report discuss the pros and cons of violent TV shows. Some pros include reinforcing morals and prior beliefs that violence is wrong and has negative consequences. However, some argue that violent TV shows can justify violence in the viewer’s mind.
In your report, analyze both sides of this argument and conclude by discussing your views. Include studies and data to support your arguments, looking at how violence can be perceived.
Peer pressure is one of the biggest challenges that teens face. Peer pressure can be severe, such as peer pressure to drink alcohol underage. However, it can also show up in milder ways, such as pressure to dress a certain way, listen to specific music, or follow the crowd. In your report, discuss the impact of peer pressure on teenagers’ self-esteem and examine how individuality can be challenging to achieve. Discuss factors contributing to peer pressure, like social media, bullying, etc.
Music is argued to be a healing power for mental health, physical conditions and can even help plants grow. Study this theory and use research data to determine whether this is true. In your report, describe how music can be healing, but also look at the limitations. To create a compelling report, source real data on how music has been used to heal a health condition and discuss how much it can help.
Wildfires are becoming increasingly common all around the world. In particular, the US sees a high number of wildfires every year. In August 2002, devastating wildfires across California left many people without homes.
In this report, discuss the causes and effects of wildfires across the globe. Use this report as an opportunity to bring attention to the noticeable effects of global warming and include ways in which governments can work to reduce wildfires.
Global warming is becoming increasingly common, making it an essential topic for argumentative and analytical reports. In your report, discuss the climate changes and how they have impacted the environment.
For example, examine the glaciers and ice sheets shrinking, wildfires across the globe and the overall temperature increase in countries worldwide. Use scientific data to back up your report, keeping it factual and informative.
Parenting is a common topic for research reports, examining how upbringing and circumstance can help or hinder a child’s development and well-being. Study the effects of living in a single-parent household versus a joint-parent household on the well-being and success of children. There are many arguments both for and against single parenting.
Some pros include that the child creates an excellent bond with the parent or the absent parent could negatively affect the child, so they shouldn’t be within the household. However, some cons can include the single parent becoming dependent on childcare. Discuss the effects of single parenting and look at both the positive and negative effects.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world; with it, social issues have come into focus. Some of the most impactful social challenges of the pandemic are the increasing rates of anxiety and depression . In your report, research and identify the main social challenges that we have faced since the pandemic and discuss the steps that can be taken to recover. Use this report to discuss your own experiences and the challenges others have faced.
Explanation : Urbanization refers to the growth in population concentration in urban areas and its subsequent effects on the environment, economy, and society. One critical effect is on local wildlife, which can be displaced or endangered due to urban sprawl. Start by researching the local species affected by urban development in your region. They should gather data on species decline, habitat loss, or conservation efforts. Consider visiting a local wildlife reserve or sanctuary. Interviewing experts or conservationists can provide firsthand insights works too.
The ubiquitous use of social media has led to various mental health concerns among teenagers, including issues related to self-esteem, peer pressure, and isolation. Analyze various scholarly articles and surveys highlighting the psychological effects of prolonged social media use. Contrast this with the potential positive aspects, like connectivity and information dissemination. Survey your school or community to gather primary data on the topic. This can make the report more relevant and localized.
Sustainable farming is a method of farming that incorporates practices that can sustain the farmer, resources, and the community at large. It often interlinks with food security, ensuring everyone can access sufficient, safe, nutritious food. Examine different sustainable farming methods, their benefits, and how they contribute to food security. Highlight challenges and propose potential solutions. If possible, visit a local farm that employs sustainable practices. Real-world observations can add depth to your report.
E-learning refers to using electronic technologies to access educational content outside of a traditional classroom. With the rise of digital platforms and tools, e-learning has become more prevalent. Assess the advantages of e-learning, such as flexibility and accessibility, against its challenges, like lack of face-to-face interaction and potential distractions. Interview students or educators with firsthand experience with traditional and e-learning settings to provide a balanced view.
Plastic waste often ends up in our oceans, affecting marine life. From microscopic plankton to gigantic whales, marine organisms ingest or get entangled in plastic debris, leading to fatal consequences. Research the plastic journey from land to sea, the species most affected, and the overall ecological repercussions. Investigate potential solutions and conservation efforts. Incorporate visuals, like photographs or infographics, to show the severity of ocean plastic pollution.
Looking for more advice about report writing topics? Check out our guide on how to write an argumentative essay .
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Learning to write syntheses: the effect of process feedback and of observing models on performance and process behaviors
- Open access
- Published: 01 November 2023
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- Nina Vandermeulen ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6731-7470 1 , 2 ,
- Elke Van Steendam ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1910-9634 3 ,
- Sven De Maeyer ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2888-1631 4 ,
- Marije Lesterhuis ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3808-556X 5 &
- Gert Rijlaarsdam ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2633-7336 6 , 7
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Writing a synthesis text involves interacting reading and writing processes, serving the comprehension of source information, and its integration into a reader-friendly and accurate synthesis text. Mastering these processes requires insight into process’ orchestrations. A way of achieving this is via process feedback in which students compare their process orchestration with examples. Access to such examples of enacted process orchestration models might have an additional learning effect. In the present study we replicated and extended the study of Vandermeulen et al. ( Written Communication , 40 (1), 90–144, 2023) on the effect of keystroke logging data-based process feedback with feed-forward exemplars when compared to national baseline performances. In addition, we report the effect of a brief extension in which learners had the opportunity to observe an enacted model of their choice, showing one of three orchestrations of the initial stage of writing a synthesis task. A total of 173 10th—grade students were randomly assigned to a process feedback condition with or without added models. A baseline, consisting of a nationally representative sample of upper-secondary students’ texts and processes, served as an alternative control group. Results showed that the process feedback, both with and without observation, had a significant effect on text quality. Regarding the process data, students in the feedback condition had a more prominent focus on the sources as they spent more time in them and switched more often between text and sources, compared to the baseline. The observation task magnified this effect.
Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.
Developing effective writing skills is indispensable for students’ academic success (Graham et al., 2013 ). In both the research and educational work field, the importance of high-quality writing instruction is recognized (De Smedt et al., 2016 ). Writing instruction supports students in developing the highly complex skill that is writing. Over the last decades, the writing process has received more attention in several instructional approaches, such as strategy-focused instruction. This type of instruction, which has obtained positive results on students’ writing performance (Graham & Perin, 2007 ; Graham et al., 2012 ), focuses on making students aware of their writing process by teaching them strategies for sub-processes such as idea planning, idea generation, goal-setting, or revising. The success of strategy-focused instruction paved the path for a process-oriented approach to writing instruction. A small but growing body of intervention studies offers feedback and instruction focusing on the writing process rather than on the writing product.
This process-oriented approach to writing instruction and feedback is in line with the recent conceptualization of feedback. Where feedback was traditionally seen as a product delivered to students (for example, comments provided by the teachers), the more recent feedback paradigm sees feedback rather as a process in which students actively engage with the feedback and make sense of it (Winston & Carless, 2020 ). This view entails that feedback should be designed in such a way that it provides students with opportunities to reflect on their learning and to monitor or self-regulate their learning (Nicol & MacFarlane-Dick, 2006 ).
The writing process can be defined as a functional dynamic system (Rijlaarsdam & Van den Bergh, 2006 ; van den Bergh et al., 2016 ) that consists of categories of cognitive and cognitive-linguistic activities, such as generating and organizing content, from memory and external sources, rhetorical goal-setting, formulation, rereading already written texts, evaluating and revising process progress and text-written-so-far. These basic activities can form all possible strings of activities in which an activity serves another activity in terms of goal-mean relations. The functional perspective refers to the relations between the activities that form strings of means-end relations. The dynamic perspective denotes that the functional relations between these strings may vary during the process. This writing process model shows the complexity of orchestrating writing process behaviors.
Hayes and Flower ( 1980 ) observed that “a great part of skill in writing is the ability to monitor and direct one’s own composing processes” (p.39). Self-regulation plays an important role in this. Graham and Harris ( 2000 ) argue that writing competence depends on high levels of self-regulation. Students need support to learn to monitor, direct and regulate their actions (Hattie & Timperley, 2007 ). In other words, they must regulate their writing process. If the aim is to support students in developing their writing skills, they need guidance in developing effective writing process organizations (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ). As several studies have confirmed the relationship between writing process activities (and their orchestration) and text quality (Breetvelt et al., 1994 ; Vandermeulen et al., 2020c ), also their texts would benefit/this would also enable them to improve their writing/one can also expect that their writing will improve as a result.
Keystroke logging tools have made it possible to gain insight into behavioral aspects of the writing process as by registering keystrokes, mouse movements and window switches, and time-stamp them (Leijten & Van Waes, 2013 ). Several studies have proposed ways of using keystroke logging data as a base to provide feedback and instruction on writing processes (Vandermeulen et al., 2020b ).
In the present study, we tested the effect of two process feedback conditions on students’ writing performance and writing behavior. For this study, we extended a previously carried out study (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ), in which we tested the effect of data-based process feedback when compared to national baseline performances, by adding the observation of a writing process model. The previous study (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ), on which our current study builds, provided students with a keystroke logging report (Vandermeulen et al., 2020b ) with information on several writing process behaviors (such as source use, fluency, revision) that were found relevant in a national baseline study (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). Subsequently, students compared their process data to the process data of higher-scoring students. This feedback intervention proved successful as participants displayed a more goal-oriented reading-writing strategy during their writing process, and they produced higher quality texts. The effect of the relatively short but intensive feedback intervention was comparable to the effect of one year of regular schooling. In the current study, we added an extra instructional component to the intervention, namely, the observation of a video model. We explored the added effect of a brief extension in which learners had the opportunity to observe an enacted model of their choice, showing one of three (empirically validated) orchestrations of the initial stage of writing a synthesis task. Participants in this study were randomly assigned to a process feedback condition with or without added models.
We provide a brief overview of previous studies that provide feedback and instruction based on keystroke logging data (Sect. " Writing process-oriented interventions ") and zoom in on two key elements of such interventions, namely, reflection and self-regulation (Sect. " Prompting reflection to stimulate self-regulation: three design principles "). We discuss the use of exemplars (Sect. " Compare and contrast: actual performance with exemplars ") and observational learning with video models (Sect. " Compare and contrast: actual performance with models ") as two methods to enhance comparing and contrasting activities that prompt reflection and self-regulation.
Writing process-oriented interventions
Previous studies offering process feedback or process instruction during interventions recurred to various keyloggers such as JEdit (Lindgren, 2004 ; Lindgren & Sullivan, 2003 ; Lindgren et al., 2009 ; Sullivan & Lindgren, 2002 ), Cywrite (Dux Speltz & Chukharev-Hudilainen, 2021 ; Ranalli et al., 2018 ), Inputlog (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ; Bowen et al., 2022 ), and ProWrite (using concurrent keystroke logging and eye-tracking, Dux Speltz et al., 2022 ).
Information obtained from the keystroke logging programs was used in different ways to serve as input for the interventions. Some studies used a replay function (Lindgren, 2004 ; Lindgren & Sullivan, 2003 ; Lindgren et al., 2009 ; Sullivan & Lindgren, 2002 ), others worked with visualizations (Dux Speltz & Chukharev-Hudilainen, 2021 ), a report with numerical data and visualizations (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ; Bowen et al., 2022 ), or screen replays followed by a remediation plan and real-time writing scaffolds (Dux Speltz et al., 2022 ).
A recurring key element in these interventions was the prompting of process reflection. The prompts for self-reflection varied from peer-discussions (Lindgren, 2004 ; Lindgren & Sullivan, 2003 ; Lindgren et al., 2009 ; Sullivan & Lindgren, 2002 ), or student–teacher discussions (Dux Speltz et al., 2022 ; Ranalli et al., 2018 ), to a set of guided questions and tasks (Bowen et al., 2022 ), or prompts to compare and contrast their process with example processes, varying from experienced writer examples (Ranalli et al., 2018 ), higher-scoring peers (Bowen et al., 2022 ), and higher- and equally-scoring peers (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ).
In general, previous intervention studies reported positive effects on students’ awareness of their own writing process, their writing motivation, self-regulation, and text quality.
Prompting reflection to stimulate self-regulation: three design principles
Reflection is a key component to self-regulated learning (Masui & De Corte, 2005 ) as it entails critical thinking about one’s own task process and performance, leading to self-assessment (Quinton & Smallbone, 2010 ). Results from previous studies on effects of reflection on writing are not always consistent. Several studies on instructional programs aiming at performance improvement via self-regulated strategy instruction provide indirect evidence that reflective activities have positive effects since such programs improved writing performance (Graham et al., 2005 ; MacArthur et al., 2015 ) and writing self-efficacy (Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 1999 ). Interventions prompting writing process reflection based on keystroke logging data (as discussed in Sect. " Writing process-oriented interventions ") reported a raise in students’ consciousness of their own writing processes (Lindgren, 2004 ; Lindgren & Sullivan, 2003 ; Ranalli et al., 2018 ), higher writing motivation (Lindgren et al., 2009 ), more higher-order, textual revisions (Lindgren, 2004 ; Lindgren & Sullivan, 2003 ), changes in writing approach (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ; Bowen et al., 2022 ; Dux Speltz et al., 2022 ), and better writing performance (Vandermeulen et al., 2023 ; Bowen et al., 2022 ). However, Dux Speltz et al. ( 2022 ) did not find a significant effect of the intervention on students’ text quality.
An instructional design to change writing processes via self-regulated learning is built on two pillars: the learning activity ‘compare and contrast’ and well-chosen objects to compare. One of these objects is one’s own process. This leads to a first design principle: if learners have to reflect on their task processes, they should have optimal access to that process. The other object is a target object, namely a process or performance of another quality (i.e., a process or performance to acquire). Therefore, the second design principle is: if learners have to set goals, they should have access to process or performance models representing target behaviors. The third design principle is about prompting learners to relate the two objects (own process and a target process), which requires a specific form of analogic reasoning (Renkl, 2014 ). The instruction must stimulate students to find commonalities and differences between the two objects on a deeper level than the surface level. The third design principle is formulated as follows: if learners must learn from target models, they must compare and contrast the known and the target model to prepare goal-setting. Instruction based on target objects is known as example-based instruction (Van Gog & Rummel, 2010 ).
Renkl ( 2014 ) and Van Gog and Rummel ( 2010 ) distinguish two strands of research in example-based instruction. Instruction with worked examples is situated in cognitive theory and mostly studied in the area of problem-solving. The aim of learning by worked examples is constructing a strategy to solve certain problems, moving from the concrete (worked) examples to a more abstract schema via analogical reasoning (Renkl, 2014 ; Van Gog & Rummel, 2010 ). The second strand is grounded in Bandura’s social-cognitive learning theory (Bandura, 1986 ). It refers to a natural human tendency to choose and observe model behavior to integrate in one’s own processes and performances.
Both forms of example-based learning are especially effective in learning new skills. They are more effective than practicing these skills due to the lower cognitive load when reading worked-out examples or observing models (Van Gog & Rummel, 2010 ). Both forms can be included in instructional design prior to practice as well as following practice, as forms of feedback. In this paper we focus on their use in the feedback phase, to trigger reflection for goal-setting.
Compare and contrast: actual performance with exemplars
Exemplars can be defined as key examples of authentic student work that are typical of certain levels of quality or competence (Sadler, 1987 ). Stimulating students to learn from examples triggers reflection and stimulates self-regulation in student learning (Nicol, 2021 ; Scheiter, 2020 ). Research has shown that students benefit when they are encouraged to use exemplars as a point of reference when reflecting on their own work (Dixon et al., 2020 ). Several positive effects are attributed to exemplars. They can represent concrete task standards (Hendry et al., 2011 ), or show different strategies to complete tasks (Orsmond et al., 2002 ). Moreover, exemplars are considered encouraging by students as they are situated in the zone of proximal development and thus show a goal within reach (Hendry et al., 2011 ). The studies by Bowen et al. ( 2022 ) and Vandermeulen et al. ( 2023 ) provided students with writing process data gathered with keystroke logging and visualizations of exemplar writing processes. The exemplars were labeled feed-forward as they consisted of exemplars of higher-scoring peers (known as the feed-forward notion- addressing the “Where to next?” question—from Hattie and Timperley’s ( 2007 ) model). Both studies reported positive effects of the intervention on the participants’ writing process approach and text quality.
Compare and contrast: actual performance with models
Observational learning involves the observation of (video) models in which a learner models a certain behavior. Several studies demonstrated the effectiveness of observational learning in the domain of writing (Couzijn, 1999 ; Groenendijk et al., 2013 ; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2002 ). For example, Braaksma et al. ( 2004 ) found that observational learning resulted in a higher amount of higher-level processes such as planning, with a more dynamic distribution of such processes across the writing process, and higher quality texts. Raedts et al. ( 2007 ) showed that students who learned by observing pairs of video-based peer models reported more extensive knowledge of effective strategies such as information gathering and planning. These students also wrote better texts compared to the control condition, and reported higher levels of self-efficacy.
Effects of observational learning are related to different factors. First, by observing writing behavior rather than performing it itself, there is a reduction in cognitive load (Braaksma et al., 2004 ). Students can focus on observing and reflecting instead of on executing a writing task. Secondly, observational learning provides students with insights into the variety of writing processes and into self-regulation during processes (Braaksma et al., 2004 ) as the model displays goal-setting via self-instructions, and via monitoring evaluation processes. Thirdly, when observing relatable peers, observational learning can also motivate learners, as it shows that the goals are within reach (Raedts et al., 2007 ).
The present study was guided by the two research questions:
Do the two interventions (feed-forward process feedback and feed-forward process feedback followed by observation of a video model) have an impact on writing performance and writing process behaviors?
Does this impact differ between the two intervention conditions?
We expect to replicate the effect of process feedback as demonstrated in Vandermeulen et al. ( 2023 ), with the process feedback based on comparison with exemplars positively affecting text quality and students’ task process. Second, we expect that the addition of the opportunity to observe one of the three empirically validated orchestrations in the form of an actual model-in-action will have an effect on the top of the feedback effect.
The present study builds on previous studies (addressed in Sect. " Literature review ") and aims to fill some of the gaps. Studies on the effect of process feedback do not fully report how students are guided from data to goal-setting. Interpretation of the variability of effects is then difficult. Elements that are missing are the definition of a target process, and decision-making on which target process is most suitable for the participant. Therefore, in the current study we aim to provide students with target ‘profiles’ of how a synthesis task can be tackled by relatively proficient peers. Participants are encouraged to compare themselves to the target profiles. The focus of these comparisons is on the orchestration of the activities. Another element that is missing in previous studies is the connection between a numerical (i.e., as in the process report and the quiz) and verbal description of a profile on the one hand), and a profile model-in-action on the other. Therefore, we will study the effect of the addition of an observation task that provides students with an example-in-action.
Participants were 185 Dutch 10-grade students from seven classes in three secondary schools. They were all enrolled in pre-university education (Dutch VWO stream). Successful completion of this program allows the candidates admission to university. Participants were between 15 and 18 years old (average age of 15.61) ( N female = 107, N male = 78). Written consent was obtained from all students.
Participants within classes were randomly assigned to a condition in which participants received feed-forward process feedback ( N students F = 87) and a condition in which participants received feed-forward process feedback followed by the observation of a video model ( N students FO = 98). The imbalance in participants between the two conditions is due to random attrition (related to students dropping out because of illness, and technical difficulties with the keystroke logging tool). The distribution of male and female students across conditions, based on the participants that revealed their gender, did not differ to a statistically significant degree ( χ 2 (1, 171) = 0.718, p = 0.760). Students received film tickets for their participation.
We implemented a repeated intervention design (Table 1 ) with three sessions (M1, M2, M3). Each session consisted of a before-writing phase, a writing phase, and an after-writing phase. The measurement design in Table 1 shows the activities carried out in each of the three sessions. Participants wrote an informative synthesis text during each session. Processes were logged with keystroke logging software Inputlog. In sessions M2 and M3 students received feedback on their writing process of the texts written in the earlier session. Two feedback conditions were implemented (Table 1 , Intervention Design): the Feed-forward Feedback condition (F), in which the participants received feed-forward exemplars, and the Feed-forward Feedback condition plus Observation (FO), in which the participants additionally observed a model in action, on video. In the present paper, we focus on two types of variables: synthesis process variables and text quality.
Feed-forward process feedback.
We designed the procedure according to three design principles, distilled from literature. Feedback was designed (1) to help students bridge the gap between their current and targeted performance, (2) to incite self-regulated learning in which understanding, reflection, evaluative judgment and monitoring were key (Panadero et al., 2019 ) and (3) to activate them (Nicol & MacFarlane-Dick, 2006 ). Feedback was based on the comparison of actual process data (Design principles 1 and 2). To support students to get an insight into their actual performance and process, students received: (1) feedback on their position on a text quality scale, and (2) quantitative data about their writing process as outlined in Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020b ) . To activate students to process the quantitative writing process data, they had to go through a series of learning activities, that is, compare and contrast and set themselves goals (Design Principle 3). To stimulate goal-setting, holistic exemplars of task processes were provided, based on an analysis of processes in a national representative sample. The exemplars consisted of exemplary writing processes of high-scoring writers, engaging the participants in the feed-forward aspect of feedback (i.e., Hattie and Timperley’s ( 2007 ) “Where to next?” question).
In the following sections, we describe the guiding steps that were presented to participants to get insight into their process feedback data. In Sect. " Data sources ", we provide details of the data that students had available. Sect. " Comparing, contrasting and goal-setting " presents all the learning activities students carried out to get grip on the data and set goals.
Texts were rated by two independent raters. Scores were reported next to a text quality scale based on a national representative sample (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ) (Fig. 1 ).
Scale with average scores
Task process information
Based on keystroke logging data, we generated individual reports on several writing behaviors, most of them in equal intervals of the process. This report followed the principles of Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020b ).
Target task information
To provide target processes, we constructed empirically validated exemplars and models of the initial stage of the writing process. We analyzed the initial stage (first interval) of the writing processes of the 50% best performances of upper-secondary students in a national assessment on (informative) synthesis writing (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). A Latent Class analysis on these processes resulted in three distinct task profiles, labeled as: the notetaker, the source reader and the thinker/focused reader. For the verbatim description of the profiles provided to students see Online Supplementary Materials A. The notetaker is characterized by heavy text production and considerable production speed at the same time as a more than average switching between the sources and one’s own text process-initially, that is, compared to the other two profiles. The source reader displays a prominent focus on source use at the beginning of the writing process reflected in a more than average time in the sources and switches between these sources compared to the other two profiles. Finally, compared to the notetaker and the source reader, the thinker/focused reader spends a lot of time pausing at the beginning of the writing process which reflects reading and thinking. Sect. " Comparing, contrasting and goal-setting " describes how students in the different conditions were meant to process and make use of the components of the feedback, more specifically, of the task process information and the (descriptive) target task information.
Comparing, contrasting and goal-setting
We designed a series of learning activities to move from data to goal-setting (Table 2 ). In Sessions 2 and 3 students received and processed feedback on the former synthesis process and set goals by working through the learning activities in an Interpretation Guide. Students in the Observation condition additionally chose and observed a video model.
To guide students in the processes of comparing, contrasting and goal-setting, three steps were designed: getting a grip on the data provided, comparing their process to exemplars and setting process goals. The interpretation guide led students through the different steps.
Getting a grip
The process started with self-assessment (self-efficacy), insight in the position on the text quality scale (Fig. 1 ), and reading the report with writing process data (Fig. 2 ). Students first filled in the short self-efficacy form with six questions probing for their self-efficacy beliefs in their selection and integration of source information, the ease with which they believed to be able to paraphrase source information, text structure, language use and conciseness. The short self-efficacy questionnaire, based on a validated, more extended questionnaire (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ; six scales with reliabilities ( α ) ranging between 0.70 and 0.87), can be found in Table B1 in Online Supplementary Materials B. Then students were provided with information on their position in a text quality scale after which they were presented with a writing process data report.
Example of Time Use in the Feedback Report with writing process data
Compare current process with exemplars
Students completed a quiz that prompted them to go back to their data in the report, and which resulted in a position on or between the three exemplars (Fig. 3 ).
Example of the quiz—comparing personal process data with exemplars
Goal-setting for the next synthesis task
Two open questions were asked, starting with what students would like to keep, and then what they wanted to do differently (Fig. 4 ).
The design of the observational learning component
Students assigned to the Observation condition continued the learning phase with observational learning. They had a choice out of three models: the notetaker, the source reader, or the focussed reader (see Sect. " Data sources "). We based the videoclips on scripts with actions that reflected empirically grounded profiles. Following the recommendations by van Ockenburg et al. ( 2019 ) to provide students with freedom of choice to adapt strategies to their own preferences, participants were free to choose which model they observed. Videoclips are roughly 7 min in length (see website www.liftwritingresearch.wordpress.com ). The empirically grounded construction and operationalization of the models can be found in Online Supplementary Materials A.
The intervention took place in students’ schools at three different measurement occasions in the course of seven days. Each session was supervised by a group of researchers and assistants acting as facilitators and making sure the protocol was adhered to. Table 1 lists the different steps and measures at each measurement occasion.
At each session students had 50 min time to write an informative synthesis task. Students of both conditions were seated in separate classrooms. Processes were logged with keystroke logging software Inputlog (version 220.127.116.11). Students in the FO-condition received headphones to watch and listen to the video models.
At M2 and M3 prior to writing, students received feedback on their writing process. They had 25 min to process the feedback individually (see Sect. " Research design " for feedback). After having processed the feedback and prior to writing at M2 and M3, students also filled out a short feedback evaluation questionnaire. Students had to indicate the degree to which they agreed with the following statements: (1) I considered the information about my own writing process useful, (2) I considered the questionnaire about my own writing process useful, (3) In my opinion the description of the different approaches to writing (Note-taker, Source Reader, Focused Reader) is useful, (4) The videoclip is useful.
Table 1 illustrates that students in both conditions filled in a short self-efficacy questionnaire prior to receiving the feedback at M2 and M3 to trigger awareness and encourage reflection. At the end of Sessions 2 and 3 after having processed the feedback and prior to writing a new text, a short feedback evaluation questionnaire was administered.
Self-efficacy short form
The questionnaire is a shortened version of a previously validated longer self-efficacy questionnaire containing six questions (cf. Table B1 in Online Supplementary Materials B) corresponding to the selection and integration of source information (Dealing with sources and Integration of the sources), the ease with which students believed to be able to paraphrase source information (Elaboration of the sources), Text structure, Language use and Conciseness.
Feedback evaluation questionnaire
The final step in the feedback flow prior to writing consisted of a short questionnaire to evaluate the feedback. Students were asked to indicate on a five-point-Likert scale the extent to which they agreed with five statements about the usefulness of the writing process information and questions (Interpretation Guide), the exemplar processes as described in the different profiles in the Interpretation Guide and in the FO-condition about the videoclips watched (cf. Table B2 in Online Supplementary Materials B).
Writing assignments were selected from a national baseline study in the Netherlands with 658 students in upper-secondary education (grades 10–12). Task construction is described in detail in Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020a ). Sources were short informative texts. Students received additional explanations on the characteristics of an informative synthesis text, target-audience, text length and on using the sources. Additionally, they were briefly instructed on how to use Inputlog.
Text quality was rated with Comproved, software based on the pairwise comparison method (Lesterhuis et al., 2016 ). Within pairwise comparison, raters are presented each time with two synthesis texts from which they have to select the better one based on a holistic evaluation of the text quality. Each text is compared multiple times. Based on the comparative judgements of all raters, using the Bradley-Terry-Luce model (Bradley & Terry, 1952 ; Luce, 1959 ), a rank order is calculated from worst to best text. For each text a logit score is calculated. Next, a reliability for the whole rank order is calculated, the Scale Separation Reliability, ranging from 0 to 1, with 1 representing a perfect consensus and full security on the position of the text on the rank order. In addition, the method of comparative judgements enables one to rescale the logit scores to, in this case, the baseline study (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ), by adding a text with a low and a text with a high-quality score to the comparisons.
The 23 raters all made 100 comparisons, so each text was compared about 10 times with another text. The raters were PhD students in an educational or language related program, and master students in an educational program, and were familiar with rating text quality and the Comproved software. They were explicitly asked to evaluate the texts holistically taking into account all of the following four criteria (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ): (1) relevance and correctness of the information, (2) integration of the sources into a new text with its own structure and overarching theme, (3) coherence and cohesion, and (4) language use. Raters received a financial compensation. The SSR index was 0.62, acceptable considering that we worked with untrained raters, which adds to the study’s validity as they all brought their own, valid, perspective to text quality to the assessment.
Filtering the data.
Prior to analyzing the keystroke logging data, we filtered them by using both the time filter and the source recoding functions in Inputlog. We used the last key students typed as an indication for the end of the writing process. This means that we removed the time from typing the last key to searching for the Inputlog stop button at the bottom of the screen. In line with Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020c ), we used the source recoding function to group the sources identified by Inputlog into one of three source categories: given source texts, the synthesis text, and off-task sources.
Writing process/behavioral measures
Writing processes were analyzed using Inputlog. In line with Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020b , 2023 ), and Van Steendam et al. ( 2022 ), we distinguish easily interpretable and meaningful relative process measures for two writing behavioral aspects: source use and production (Table 3 ). The studies illustrated that the variables were amenable to change. The variables selected also corresponded to the variables selected for the three writing process profiles. Source use is represented by three variables: (1) (relative) amount of time spent in the sources, (2) number of switches between the sources (per minute), (3) number of switches between the synthesis text and the sources (per minute). Finally, the production measures were (1) active writing time, and (2) speed operationalized by the number of keystrokes per minute. The process measures were selected for the first (of three) intervals of the process. Writing processes were divided into three equal intervals, and we selected the first interval representing the beginning of the writing process where we expected source use activities to be most prominent.
Research assistants supervising the data-collection closely adhered to a script with the various steps in the procedure and were also instructed prior to the data-collection sessions.
To check the random assignment of the students to both conditions a multivariate model was fitted to estimate the differences between the FO-condition and the F-condition for all six dependent variables (text quality and the 5 behavioral process measures) at Session 1 (see Appendix A). The resulting highest density intervals are for all these variables situated around the value zero, indicating that we have no evidence that there were significant differences between both conditions at Session 1 for any of the dependent variables.
A check of the questions of the feedback evaluation questionnaire (prior to writing at Session 2) showed that these had been filled out by all students in both conditions. The feedback was positively evaluated in both conditions (means for the three feedback elements ranging from 3.79 to 3.93 out of 5). In the FO-condition, the model-videos were positively evaluated (3.5 on a scale from 1 to 5). No statistically significant differences between conditions were found for evaluation of feedback quality, for none of the feedback elements: not for the feedback report, nor for the quiz or the profile description: F (3,145) = 0.228, p = 0.877; Wilk’s Λ = 0.995, partial η 2 = 0.005).
We estimated the correlations between text quality and the behavioral measures at each of the three sessions. We used a Bayesian framework to estimate the posterior probability distribution for each of the correlation coefficients so that we can make use of its property that all inferences are probabilistic, giving us a framework to express inferential and predictive uncertainty (Gelman et al., 2021 ). Analyses are implemented in the probabilistic programming language Stan (Carpenter et al., 2017 ) making use of R (R Core Team, 2020 ) and the package brms (Bürkner, 2017 ). To estimate the models we made use of the default weakly informative priors defined in brms. Given that we have a sufficient amount of data, weakly informative priors are capable to keep the inferences in a reasonable range without making the inferences sensible to the choice of priors (Gelman et al., 2021 ). Estimation of the models was based on a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling algorithm, making use of 6 chains of 6,000 iterations each, with 1,500 burn-in iterations to guarantee convergence (see Lambert, 2018 for an in-depth explanation on the MCMC sampling algorithm).
Estimating the differences between both conditions
To analyze the potential different impact of both conditions (F vs. FO), we rely on three alternative models, that are an implementation of a multivariate model, assuming that the scores for each session are three separate dependent variables that will be modeled simultaneously. This approach allows us to model the variances and covariances between students for each session, not assuming a similar variance between students at each session. The models were run for all six dependent variables: text quality and the five behavioral variables measuring the writing process.
A first model (Model 1) is an unconditional model not taking into account the possible effects of the intervention. This model only assumes three average scores (one for each session), three variances between students (one for each session) and covariances between the scores at each session for students. The following online supplementary material presents an elaborate formal definition of the model ( https://majestic-pixie-28398c.netlify.app/ ).
To estimate the difference between both conditions, we introduce the effect of condition as a dummy variable (indicating whether a student was assigned to the F-condition (= 0) or to the FO- condition (= 1)) in a Model 2. The dummy variable is added to the model as a predictor for scores on Sessions 2 and 3. Specifically, in Model 2 we assume that the effect of the condition is identical at both sessions. In other words, there is a single parameter expressing the effect of condition, which is a parsimonious model.
In Model 3 we loosen this assumption of an equal difference between both conditions at both Sessions 2 and 3, allowing for a session-specific effect of condition. If Model 3 fits the data better than Model 2, the condition effect varies at sessions.
Bayesian models are used as they are ideal for reliable parameter estimation given that we can derive a posterior probability distribution of the parameter values of interest (McElreath, 2020 ). The posterior probability distribution of these parameters can be used to propagate the uncertainties around the parameter estimates when calculating contrasts. Moreover, as our design lacks a control group, we will follow van den Bergh et al.’s ( 2023 ) suggestion and use a national baseline study as a point of reference to evaluate the effect of the intervention which necessitates a Bayesian approach (see Sect. “ Comparison to a national baseline ”).
The models are estimated for each of the dependent variables separately. By comparing the three models on their model fit, making use of leave-one-out cross validation (Gelman et al., 2021 ), we select the best fitting model for each of the dependent variables. Posterior probability distributions of the parameter estimates based on these best fitting models are explored by describing 89% credible intervals (McElreath, 2020 ) and the probability of direction (Makowski, et al., 2019 ).
We implemented the model estimation in the probabilistic programming language Stan (Carpenter et al., 2017 ) making use of R (R Core Team, 2020 ) and the package brms (Bürkner, 2017 ), making use of the default weakly informative priors defined in brms , using 6 chains of 6,000 iterations each, with 1,500 burn-in iterations.
Comparison to a national baseline
Besides estimating the differences between the two conditions, we also want to learn more about the impact of the intervention on text quality and the five behavioral measures. Therefore, we compare the change in scores from Session 1 to Session 2 and Session 3. This comparison is hindered by task effects: at each session, another writing task was implemented (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). Following the suggestion by van den Bergh et al. ( 2023 ), we made use of the data available from a broader national baseline study (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ) with the same tasks, measurements of text quality, and behavioral measures as used in the current intervention study. The baseline consists of a nationally representative sample of students ( N = 658) from three grades (10–12) who each wrote multiple synthesis texts ( N = 2310) without receiving feedback (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). Comparison with the baseline allowed us to compare the feedback effect with the grade effect, namely, the effect of the progress students make over time or over grades. Since national baseline studies offer a large number of observations on a large variety of tasks, they provide a much richer account of the general level of achievement than a traditional control group. For a more detailed description of the baseline study and its methodological considerations, we refer to Vandermeulen et al. ( 2020a ).
Using data from 10th graders in that baseline study ( N students = 242, N texts, processes = 435), we estimated a mixed effects model for each of the dependent variables containing random effects for schools and tasks using a Bayesian modeling approach. Based on these models, we extracted the average score of 10th graders for the specific tasks used in our intervention study and the uncertainties around those average scores based on the posterior probability distribution. These posterior distributions coming from the national baseline data formed a point of reference to evaluate the posterior distributions for the average scores derived from the models applied on the intervention data.
Open data and code statement
All the data for the Bayesian analyses, Stan code, R scripts and output are available on the OSF ( https://osf.io/3sb7m/?view_only=b89adb32abaa46c59676cc7c6a47a62f ). In an online walkthrough we further documented the analyses and code. This online document is accessible via: https://majestic-pixie-28398c.netlify.app/ .
A first step in the analyses is the estimation of the correlations between the dependent variables (text quality and the five behavioral process measures). Figure 5 visualizes these correlations for each of the three sessions.
Posterior probability distributions for the correlations between text quality and the process variables at each session and the accompanying 89% credible intervals based on Bayesian estimation. Correlations are arranged from largest positive to largest negative in session 1
The correlations between text quality and the different process measures are all small or negligible, at each session.
The only constant moderate correlation in each session is the negative correlation between keystrokes per minute and time in sources. At Session 1 there is also a moderate positive correlation between active writing time and keystrokes per minute. This correlation is lower in Sessions 2 and 3 as all correlations become weaker.
After all three models were estimated for each of the dependent variables, we compared the model fit of these models, based on a leave-one-out cross-validation (Online Supplementary Materials C). We rely on the looic to select the best fitting models.
From these model comparisons we learn that only for text quality Model 1 outperforms the other models (lowest looic), meaning that for text quality we have no convincing evidence that students in the F-condition wrote better or worse texts than students in the FO-condition (RQ2).
For the process variables we see that Model 2 shows the best fit for three behaviors: active writing time, time in sources and switches between sources and text. This indicates that students in the two conditions score differently for these variables both at Sessions 2 and 3, with this difference being equal for both sessions. Finally, for keystrokes per minute and switches between sources Model 3 shows the best model fit. Students in both conditions score differently for these variables at Sessions 2 and 3 and the difference is not equally large for Session 2 as it is for Session 3 (RQ2).
In what follows we describe these best fitting models for each of the dependent variables.
The best fitting model for Text Quality was the unconditional model ( Online Supplementary Materials C, Table C1). From the posterior probability distributions for the contrasts we learn that there is an increase in text quality at each session (RQ1).
Next, we want to test whether the effects of the interventions (as shown by an increase in text quality at Sessions 2 and 3) can be explained by the fact that different tasks are used at each session. Therefore, we make a comparison with information from the baseline study (RQ1). In Fig. 6 , we plot the posterior probability distribution of the intervention effect against the posterior probability distribution for the average text quality of similar tasks at the baseline study. The figure shows that already at Session 1 students in the intervention study outperformed the students in the national baseline. Nevertheless, we see that the difference between the students in the intervention and the national baseline increases in Sessions 2 and 3, compared to the difference in Session 1. Looking at the x-axis, we can observe that the gap between the distributions of the baseline scores and the distributions of the intervention scores is wider at Session 2 than at Session 1, and is wider at Session 3 than at Sessions 1 and 2. Based on the posterior probability distributions we can calculate the differences at each session and an 89% highest density interval. At the first session the 89% most probable values for the difference are situated between 12.1 and 24.5 points (with a median of 18.1 points). This difference is somewhat larger at Session 2 with the 89% most probable values for the difference being situated between 18.1 and 29.7 points (median of 23.9 points). As we can propagate the uncertainties, we can also calculate the strength and uncertainty around this increase in difference between baseline and intervention students between Session 1 and Session 2. The 89% most probable values for this increase in difference between Session 1 and Session 2 are situated between -1.6 and 13.24 (median of 5.8), meaning that we have no convincing evidence that there is an increase in difference between Session 1 and Session 2 (RQ1).
Posterior probability distribution of the average text quality scores for both the national baseline and the students in the intervention study for the texts used in each of the three sessions
At Session 3 the difference is even larger, with the 89% most probable values situated between 31.1 and 42.7 points (median of 36.9 points). This difference between national baseline students and intervention students is convincingly higher than in Session 1 and in Session 2: respectively the 89% most probable values for the increase in difference between Session 3 and Session 2 is situated between 5.6 and 20.1 points (median of 13.0) and the 89% most probable values for the increase in difference between Session 3 and Session 1 is situated between 11.2 and 26.7 points (median of 18.8 points). This brings us to the conclusion that students certainly improved the quality of their written texts in the intervention at Session 3 (RQ1).
The parameter estimates for the effects of the dummy variable condition show that F-condition together with FO-condition resulted in different scores for a set of behavioral measures (Online Supplementary Materials D, Table D2) (RQ2). Students in the FO-condition scored higher at Sessions 2 and 3 than students in the F-condition for the variables active writing time (CI: 0.01—0.08; Median: 0.04), source time (CI: 0.02—0.10; Median: 0.06) and number of switches between sources and synthesis (CI: 0.11—0.65; Median: 0.38). For the variable switches between sources, we also find that students in the FO-condition score higher than students in the F-condition, but only in Session 3 (CI: 0.07—0.34; Median: 0.20). Finally, we can also conclude that students in the FO-condition slowed down their writing speed compared to students in the F-condition, both at Session 2 (CI: −13.90—1.54; Median: −7.47) and Session 3 (−20.25—5.77; Median: −13.11).When comparing the estimates from our intervention with estimates from the baseline study (Fig. 7 ) (RQ1), we can see that the intervention students clearly score higher on active writing time than the baseline students, at each of the three sessions. Concerning source time we see the following pattern: students in the FO-condition increased their time in the sources at Session 2 compared to the baseline students, while in Session 3 they score similar as the baseline students. But at the same time, students in the F-condition spend less time in the sources at Session 3 compared to the baseline. For the variable speed we see that only at Session 3 there are clear differences between students in the baseline study and the students in the F-condition, showing that the latter increased their speed compared to the former. Also for the variable switches between sources we can mainly see a difference at Session 3 between students in the FO-condition compared to the baseline student. Students in the FO-condition show more switches between the sources at Session 3. The same holds for the number of switches between sources and synthesis text, but also the students in the F-condition showed more switches between sources and synthesis than the baseline students at Session 3. At Session 2, students in the FO-condition started to show more switches between the sources and the synthesis than the students in the baseline study.
Posterior probability distributions for the average scores on the behavioral measures for both the national baseline students and the students in the intervention study
Two questions were central to this study:
We investigated the first research question using a research design that partially replicated Vandermeulen et al.’s ( 2023 ) design, in which students were exposed to the process feedback intervention twice. In that intervention, students received feedback about their task behavior via a report with keystroke logging data, and compared their writing behavior to exemplar processes. As Vandermeulen et al.’s ( 2023 ) study showed a positive effect of the feedback on text quality when students compared their processes to exemplar processes of higher-scoring students (feed-forward), the current study also included comparisons with process behaviors related to higher-scoring texts. The difference between the previous study and the current study is in the design of the exemplars. While Vandermeulen et al.’s ( 2023 ) study used two annotated process graphs (visualizations of the complete writing process) relative to the participants’ performance (exemplars of 1 SD and 2 SD higher), in the present study, insight via detailed automatic process feedback into students’ processes is conducted via a holistic comparison with three empirically validated exemplars. These three exemplars show three different approaches for the first process phase, at the moment when task and source information must be comprehended and the student starts to set up a synthesis text. The selection of these exemplars is based on an analysis of data available from a national assessment study (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). Besides replicating the previous study, we also tested whether the subsequent observation of a video model added to the effect of feedback. Effects were determined for text quality and five writing process behavior measures in the first of three intervals of the writing process. We compared the effects of both conditions to a national baseline, which contains data from a nationally representative sample of students of the same age and educational level.
The results of this study into effects of process feedback and model observation on writing performance and process behaviors can be summarized in the following way.
Replication: impact of process feedback
The feed-forward process feedback had a positive effect on text quality at the end of the intervention program (i.e., after two feedback intervention instances), compared to the national baseline. Students in the experiment already wrote better on average from the beginning of the experiment than students in the national baseline, but after a second process feedback intervention, the gap widened significantly. Students in the experiment received no feedback on the quality of the text they wrote. They were only told how they scored on the national performance scale (Vandermeulen et al., 2020a ). The score may in many cases have been a sign that there was still room for growth, but without indicating in which features of the texts that growth could be achieved. The increase in text quality could be due to practice: after all, students wrote three synthesis texts in a short period of time. In the national baseline study in which students each wrote four texts such an effect could, however, not be determined based on a secondary analysis (ES at most 0.14, F (3,2197) = 2.314, p = 0.074). Consequently, we could infer that the feed-forward process feedback, both with and without observation, had a significant effect on text quality compared to a national baseline.
On four of the five behavioral measures, the experimental conditions had an effect, compared to the baseline data. In the process of the first text, we saw no differences between the conditions and the national baseline except for Active Writing Time. Active Writing Time was higher in the experiment than in the baseline, at all measurement moments, and the gap did not change across the sessions. On the four remaining behavioral variables, that is, Keystrokes per Minute, Time in Sources, Switches between Sources and Switches between Sources and Synthesis, we did observe an effect, and it always occurred at the third session, after two rounds of process feedback. The feedback conditions showed higher writing speed, more switches between sources, more switches between sources and text-produced-so-far, and less time in sources. If students spend less time in sources while switching more between sources, this may indicate a more active search for information integration. Such an activity is then accompanied by a higher writing speed, which may indicate that students are utilizing more information from their own memory in the text (Baaijen & Galbraith, 2018 ).
Extension: observation of the enactment of an exemplar video model
For text quality, the addition of an activity to observe a process model in action had no additional contribution to the impact of the feed-forward process feedback. We observed no differences between the two conditions; both had similar positive effects compared to the baseline. We did observe an additional effect on all five process variables, however, all of which were already observable after a single round of feedback. Compared to the F-condition, students spent more Active Writing Time, but also more Source Time, indicating that less time was left unused. Students in the FO-condition also switched more frequently between sources and between sources and the synthesis text. Writing Speed, on the other hand, was lower than in the F-condition. Two of these effects are amplified after the second round of feedback: even less rapid text production and even more switches between sources. More time in sources, more time in writing, more switches between sources and sources and text, but slower text production: we interpret these tendencies as reflecting a focus on coherence and integration in the first stage of the synthesis process. This development, however, does not yet show itself in higher overall text quality as a result of the observation task.
Comparing the effects of the two conditions, it seems that adding a short observation task reinforces the effect of process feedback on the writing process. Both conditions generate an effect on Text Quality, but the observation condition reinforces the effects on writing process behaviors. We can only qualitatively interpret those effects on writing behaviors: indeed, no correlations were observed between writing behaviors and text quality in this study. It is not the case that increases in certain activities (source time) and decreases in others (speed) are associated with text quality. Spending more source time in the initial phase of the synthesis process, as well as switching between sources and between sources and the text-so-far are often suggested in intervention studies (Van Ockenburg et al., 2019 ). But in the present study, we found no support for the effect of such strategies on text quality. From studies on learning by examples, it is known that such interventions lower the cognitive load during task execution (Van Gog & Rummel, 2010 ; Renkl, 2014 ). If this would have been the case in the present study, participants could have paid more attention to the quality of task execution, which might have resulted in better text quality, which is, however, not demonstrated in the present study.
The relation between task behaviors and output quality is intriguing. When learning conditions affect both task behaviors as well as output quality, and no relation between these variables is observed, some other variables might be in play. In the present study, students also got insight in the text quality of their paper related to the national scale; in many cases, there must have been room for improvement. Even if no information was provided about the particular aspect(s) which could have been improved, the mere fact that other texts were rated higher might have motivated and incited students to invest in writing. Future studies might include indicators of motivation and effort in the design to study the mediating effect of motivation on text quality and task processes. Another perspective on this matter might be the compensatory relations between writing behaviors on an individual level (Rijlaarsdam & Van de Bergh, 1996 ). Although on a group level an effect on text quality and writing behaviors was observed, the individual patterns of investment in writing behaviors must have been different, provided the low correlations within the set of writing behaviors. Van Steendam et al. ( 2022 ) showed that students varied their writing behaviors quite frequently from task to task. In the present study, the exemplars and models students read and observed varied clearly, and yet they all focused on comprehending the source materials and starting the text production process. If students indeed differed in the way they combined these processes, scores on single behaviors may indeed not predict text quality. Note that in the present study, the process feedback was offered in a non-normative approach, as three different exemplars were shown, and students were free to choose whether or not to set goals to adapt their writing behaviors and to decide which goals suited them best. In terms of effects, this approach seems to have worked well, and at this point, writing process research cannot offer more.
We aimed to carry out an intervention study with a high ecological validity. The intervention was situated in a classroom setting, and materials and tools are freely available for teachers to use in their classes (see website www.liftwritingresearch.wordpress.com ). However, a number of reservations can be made about this study. We believe that the intervention’s ecological validity would increase if future studies could address the following limitations.
That the students in the experiment were found to be better writers than the national sample may indicate a selection effect of the schools that volunteered to participate. It could indicate that the condition effects we report relate only to students who are among the better writers. Future (replication) studies could shed light on the further generalizability of the study’s results to the population in question, for example, to initially weaker writers.
Secondly, the process feedback and video models in this intervention study were oriented towards one specific genre of writing, namely source-based writing. This implies that we cannot generalize findings for other writing task genres.
Another limitation that can be commented is the short duration of the intervention. Though the brevity of the intervention makes its deployment in classroom practice feasible, we currently do not know what the long-term effect of the intervention might be. Following up with a delayed post-test would be interesting. Moreover, more extensive intervention programs could be explored, e.g. devoting more time to certain activities, and involving teacher instruction and peer collaboration.
On a group level, the interventions were effective on writing behaviors and text quality in a non-specific content domain. In that respect, the findings contribute to our understanding of the effect of process feedback and additional observation on synthesis writing with secondary school students in such a non-specific content domain. Synthesis tasks, however, are often set in disciplinary domains. A replication of this study with content knowledge as an outcome, in different disciplines, could shed light on the effects of such a kind of neutral process feedback on source-based writing processes that are so different across disciplines, even within individuals (Holdinga et al., 2021 ). In line with Van Ockenburg et al. ( 2021 ), further research could explore the effects of moderator variables, such as writing process approach, writing attitude and self-efficacy, since students in the present study had to invest quite some effort in understanding the feedback that was offered.
Additionally, a future study could include not only the effect of self-efficacy and writing process approach as moderator variables in both feedback conditions but could also study the effect of the feedback on students’ appreciation. We know from previous studies that feedback appreciation is an important factor for students’ feedback literacy (Carless & Boud, 2018 ). A study that focuses on how students evaluate the intervention could shed light on the relation between the evaluation and writing process and product. That way the study’s contribution to both the feedback and writing domain would be significantly heightened. Additionally, an analysis of students’ feedback appreciation would highlight the strong and weaker points of the intervention and would thus provide valuable insights to further develop the intervention activities and materials.
A deeper analysis of the rationale behind students’ model selection and an analysis of their written responses on the goal-setting questions, could provide us with an insight into the extent to which changes were in alignment with the goals students set themselves. Moreover, a detailed analysis of the keystroke logging data for a number of selected cases could shed light on the complexity of the changes in writing process behaviors. Forming a more integrative view of the writing process by taking into account various process behaviors and their interactions is essential to understand changes in writing process behaviors, and their relations with writing performance.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that deeper and more fine-grained qualitative analyses are needed to further explain the study’s results, the study contributes to a rapidly expanding field of process feedback studies in writing research. To a certain extent, the study, along with Van Steendam et al. ( 2022 ), illustrates that “feedback aiming to expose students to different writing approaches by for example, having them contrast them or compare them to their own writing approach, could benefit awareness-building and reflection and ultimately result in learning” (Van Steendam et al., 2022 , p. 1792). Additionally, the fact that it does so by relating its results to a larger national baseline study, enables researchers to position and interpret the findings in the light of general performance in both synthesis writing process and product of higher-secondary school students.
As this effective intervention is relatively short, requires limited effort from teachers, and the tools (i.e., user-friendly keystroke logging report generator) and materials are available, it can be implemented in regular classroom practice. There are many options for further research to build on this study and to continue exploring writing process feedback and its implementation in the classroom. Some options include exploring the long-term effects, adding additional instructional components, and combining process- with product-oriented feedback.
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Open access funding provided by Umea University. This research was supported by a National Grant from NWO, the Dutch Research Council, Grant 405–14-301, awarded to dr. Prof. Gert Rijlaarsdam.
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Department of Language Studies, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Department of Management, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Department of Linguistics, Louvain, KU, Belgium
Elke Van Steendam
Department of Training and Education Sciences, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Sven De Maeyer
Center for Research and Development of Health Professions Education, UMC Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Department of Teacher Education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
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Vandermeulen, N., Van Steendam, E., De Maeyer, S. et al. Learning to write syntheses: the effect of process feedback and of observing models on performance and process behaviors. Read Writ (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-023-10483-7
Accepted : 23 September 2023
Published : 01 November 2023
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-023-10483-7
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