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Formal Recommendation Reports: Progress Report and Peer Review Groups

by Steve Krause on November 6th, 2014

I know you’re all busy with the peer review for the resume and cover letter assignment (remember! peer review for that finishes up on Friday of this week!) and you are also probably getting ready to do the write-up for your informal reports as well (we will start peer review on that assignment on Monday, November 17). But also in the mix right now is the progress reports for the formal recommendation reports. And along with that, I am also going to set up peer review groups for this project. Read more below.


Let me begin with an explanation as to why I’m doing this.

In the previous versions of this class– both face to face and online– this project has been a collaborative one where, working in teams of four or five, the group produced the report and presentation. Now, I’m a big believer in the educational value of collaborative work,especially for larger projects like this one. But there has been in the past two problems with this. First, there is an added level of complexity when you’re collaborating on a project online. It’s possible of course– I do it all the time with the other work I do as a professor– but it is more challenging and time-consuming, especially with a fairly complicated project like this. Second, students hate– hate!— collaborative projects like this. Or at least most of the students I’ve had hate collaborative projects.

So, more or less as an experiment this semester (and frankly, against my own wishes), I decided to make this not a collaborative project this time. I’ll be curious to see how this goes and I am also curious to get your feedback on this by the end of the term and in student evaluations.

But I do want to set up some peer review groups now so that you can share with each other your progress reports (and get feedback from folks besides just me) and also so you have a smaller than the whole class group to bounce ideas off of and the like.

Here are the groups:

Again, you will be in these groups to do peer review/discussion for each of the progress reports and also for the peer review for the final version of your report.

“But what do you want for the progress reports?”

Well, I don’t mean something quite as formal as the kind of “progress reports” that are themselves in that genre of reports that are common in the professional world. But I do mean something like the memos that you write with each of your assignments that describes what you have been doing lately with this project.

They don’t have to be too long– a good-sized paragraph, probably. This first progress report should mostly be about what it is you are planning on doing, basically. The next reports will describe in a bit more detail what work you did on the formal report the previous week.

Let me end with two important things about this assignment generally and these reports specifically:

  • I am giving you a lot of time to work on these formal reports, almost a third of the semester. That means that you should use the time I am allotting you effectively! Do not put this off until the last minute!
  • These progress reports will be your way of demonstrating to me and your classmates that you have been working and thinking about this project. In other words, they too are part of the assignment. So get them done!

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