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The Formal Report and Recommendation Assignment

The Basics:

Here is the scenario: I (that is me, your teacher) won the Powerball Lottery and as part of my joy and willingness to make a meaningful contribution to the world, I have decided that I will donate $5 million for a student-lead improvement initiative at Eastern Michigan University. Further, I have decided that the students who will both lead this initiative and who will help decide on which plan should be funded will be you (that is, the students in this section of English 323).

This initiative can be about anything that a) explicitly benefits students at EMU, and that b) adheres to the general principles of the mission/tagline of EMU, “Education First.” 

Each of you will prepare a formal report, a document that will probably be at least 10 pages or so long that will explain your proposal– the reasons for it, the budget, the potential benefits, and so forth.  And this would also include any illustrations and a works cited/bibliography section. Each of you will also prepare and share a “micropresentation,” which will be a short (no more than 3 minutes) video where you give the “elevator pitch” version of your report’s recommendation and proposal. Both the report and the micropresentation will be posted and be available for everyone in the class to review.

During the last week of class and after reviewing the micropresentations and reports, each of you will vote for the “winning” proposal– that is, the proposal that you think represents the best and most feasible idea. Needless to say, you cannot vote for your own proposal. The five proposals that receive the most votes will automatically receive “A”s on this project, and I will assign grades to the rest of the reports.

The Details:

  • You will note there is a lot of time on the schedule to  discuss ideas and logistics for creating these projects. A lot of what will be required though is specific research about EMU.
  • Perviously, this has been a collaborative project where I required students to work in small groups on all aspects of the project. But this term, this will be an individual project where each of you will be required to create your own reports and micropresentations, though you also will have the chance to collaborate if you want. For example, you can help each other with the technicalities of getting the micropresentations together; if you are working on similar ideas, you can share research; and if you want to participate in a peer review activity for your final report, you can do that too. On the other hand, if you want to work completely (or mostly) by yourself, that’s okay too.
  • The details of your report are going to vary based on your proposal, but generally speaking, these will follow the arrangement of “formal reports” we will be studying in this unit, though at about 10 or so pages altogether, a length that is actually on the short-end for most formal reports. The details of what your micropresentation will look like will also vary based on your topic and approach. There are three basic requirements though:
    • It will follow the format of what is commonly referred to as an “elevator pitch,” which we will discuss in the class discussions;
    • It will be posted and shared on YouTube; and
    • It has to be less than three minutes long.
  • Finally, each of you will include a writer’s memo reflecting on the assignment and you will post this in the form of a Google doc link on emuonline.

Why I am assigning this:

“Formal reports” are a classic assignment in a class like this, but because the circumstances for these kinds of documents in the workplace vary tremendously based on the work situation, I like to do this with a bit of a twist. In this last big project that brings together a lot of different aspects of the course, I am asking you to make an effort at persuading a very specific audience– me and your classmates– about something we all know something about– EMU. And hopefully, it’s a bit of fun too.

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