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How To Write An Essay About A Project

1. Name what you want and imagine students doing it

However free students are to range and explore in a paper, the general kind of paper you’re inviting has common components, operations, and criteria of success, and you should make these explicit. Having satisfied yourself, as you should, that what you’re asking is doable, with dignity, by writers just learning the material, try to anticipate in your prompt or discussions of the assignment the following queries:

  • What is the purpose of this? How am I going beyond what we have done, or applying it in a new area, or practicing a key academic skill or kind of work?
  • To what audience should I imagine myself writing?
  • What is the main task or tasks, in a nutshell? What does that key word (e.g., analyze, significance of, critique, explore, interesting, support) really mean in this context or this field?
  • What will be most challenging in this and what qualities will most distinguish a good paper? Where should I put my energy? (Lists of possible questions for students to answer in a paper are often not sufficiently prioritized to be helpful.)
  • What misconceptions might I have about what I’m to do? (How is this like or unlike other papers I may have written?) Are there too-easy approaches I might take or likely pitfalls? An ambitious goal or standard that I might think I’m expected to meet but am not?
  • What form will evidence take in my paper (e.g., block quotations? paraphrase? graphs or charts?) How should I cite it? Should I use/cite material from lecture or section?
  • Are there some broad options for structure, emphasis, or approach that I’ll likely be choosing among?
  • How should I get started on this? What would be a helpful (or unhelpful) way to take notes, gather data, discover a question or idea? Should I do research? 

2. Take time in class to prepare students to succeed at the paper

Resist the impulse to think of class meetings as time for “content” and of writing as work done outside class. Your students won’t have mastered the art of paper writing (if such a mastery is possible) and won’t know the particular disciplinary expectations or moves relevant to the material at hand. Take time in class to show them: 

  • discuss the assignment in class when you give it, so students can see that you take it seriously, so they can ask questions about it, so they can have it in mind during subsequent class discussions;
  • introduce the analytic vocabulary of your assignment into class discussions, and take opportunities to note relevant moves made in discussion or good paper topics that arise;
  • have students practice key tasks in class discussions, or in informal writing they do in before or after discussions;
  • show examples of writing that illustrates components and criteria of the assignment and that inspires (class readings can sometimes serve as illustrations of a writing principle; so can short excerpts of writing—e.g., a sampling of introductions; and so can bad writing—e.g., a list of problematic thesis statements);
  • the topics of originality and plagiarism (what the temptations might be, how to avoid risks) should at some point be addressed directly. 

3. Build in process

Ideas develop over time, in a process of posing and revising and getting feedback and revising some more. Assignments should allow for this process in the following ways:

  • smaller assignments should prepare for larger ones later;
  • students should do some thinking and writing before they write a draft and get a response to it (even if only a response to a proposal or thesis statement sent by email, or described in class);
  • for larger papers, students should write and get response (using the skills vocabulary of the assignment) to a draft—at least an “oral draft” (condensed for delivery to the class);
  • if possible, meet with students individually about their writing: nothing inspires them more than feeling that you care about their work and development;
  • let students reflect on their own writing, in brief cover letters attached to drafts and revisions (these may also ask students to perform certain checks on what they have written, before submitting);
  • have clear and firm policies about late work that nonetheless allow for exception if students talk to you in advance.

Brief Guide to Designing Essay Assignments

A PDF version of the text above. Provides guidance on creating carefully crafted and explicit paper assignments that encourage students to write better papers

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Ever have the grand idea to bake a super-amazing birthday cake for your significant other, then realize that you have no idea how to bake?

If your baking skills are anything like mine, you probably struggled a bit and worried that your cake would taste more like the cardboard box the cake mix came in than a tasty chocolate cake.

What does this have to do with writing a project report?

Let me explain. Writing a report is like following a cake recipe. Like any recipe, a report requires you to include specific ingredients. Add too much of this or not enough of that, and your report (and your cake) will fall flat.

With that being said, let’s put on our thinking caps (or your chef’s hat if you prefer) and get to work on a project report.

What Is a Project Report?

A project report is a detailed explanation of the project you’ve completed (generally in a science, engineering, or business-related course.)

It will usually include the following sections:

  • Signed declaration indicating you’ve completed your own work
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Body
    • Introduction
    • Review of the literature
    • Results and discussion
    • Conclusions and recommendations

(More about what to include in these sections below.)

Of course, your professor might require slightly different components or headings, so make sure to read your assignment guidelines carefully.

With a better understanding of the components of a project report, you can move on to writing your own report.

How Do You Write a Project Report?

Sometimes simply starting is the most difficult part of the task, but if you take it step by step, the task suddenly seems less daunting.

It’s like baking.

Pretend you’ve only ever “baked” a microwave cake. Then you’re suddenly asked to bake a Kransekake for your brother’s wedding. Your reaction probably isn’t to jump right in and bake the cake, right?

Chances are, you might stare blankly at the recipe for a good long while just trying to sort it out. Once you gather your ingredients and start working, though, you can put together a decent cake.

How do you put together a decent project report? Let’s start at the beginning. (Makes sense, right?)

Design and implement your project

Designing and implementing your project are like the ingredients to your cake. Without these, it’s impossible to create a finished product (in this case, a report).

I’m assuming you have already completed these steps. (If not, I suggest you get to work—and fast!)

Review the literature

Next, you’ll need to review the literature. This is like reviewing recipes to see what other chefs have done.

In this case, you’re reviewing journals to see what other scholars have written about your subject. I’m going to assume that you’ve read the literature already too. If you haven’t done that yet, you’re going to need to do a fair amount of research.

Here are two resources to help you get started: 5 Best Resources to Help With Writing a Research Paper and 3 Types of Essay Support That Prove You Know Your Stuff.

Outline your ideas

Now that you’ve gathered your ingredients and reviewed the experts’ work, it’s time to start mixing the ingredients and create something that resembles a project report.

Start by reviewing your information, and sketch out an outline. Jot down a few notes to focus your thoughts about the goals of the project, its implementation, and its results.

Not quite sure what to write? Here are a few suggestions to help you draft an outline:

  • Summarize your project in one or two sentences.
  • What did you hope to accomplish by implementing your project?
  • How did you implement the project? (Did you conduct a survey, create a program, or build something?)
  • What were the results? (Even if they weren’t what you expected, take note of it.)
  • Ask yourself, “What now?” (Now that your project is complete, what do you think should be done? Do you have any suggestions for improvements?)

Fill in the details to draft your report

You’ve taken the time to read your recipe (the assignment guidelines). You’ve mixed your ingredients (by making an outline). Now you can bake your finished project proposal to perfection.

Suggestions to Help Develop Each Section of Your Project Report

Abstract

An abstract is essentially a summary of your paper. Thus, keep in mind that the goal is to include only the key points. Summarize the project in no more than a brief paragraph by explaining the following:

  • The project
  • Its goals
  • How the project was implemented
  • The results of the project

To get a good idea of how your abstract should look, read 10 Good Abstract Examples That Will Kickstart Your Brain.

Don’t tell your writers every detail about how you developed and implemented your project. Don’t tell your readers every step you need to take in order to improve your project. Save these details for the results and discussion section of the paper.

Introduction

The introduction contains the basics of your project (similar to the abstract). But it should also include background information, such as information about how and why you developed the project.

Review of the literature

This section requires you to present a current discussion of your topic based on what the experts are saying.

Note that this isn’t a section devoted to literature like Moby Dick or Lord of the Rings. This is literature based on professional journals like the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology.

The literature review section should include an overview of your topic, including any recent discoveries or challenges to previously held beliefs.

Depending on your assignment requirements, you’ll also want to pay close attention to publication dates of the literature you’re referencing. Don’t cite a 1998 article about new wind technologies and present the information as a current breakthrough.

Obviously, anything developed in 1998 won’t be considered “new” in the world of technology. (You might, on the other hand, still use the article if you want to compare technologies of 1998 to technologies of today.)

Results and discussion

In this section, explain the results of your project and include a discussion of how you implemented your project.

As you discuss the results, also tell readers what you can infer from the results. (Keep in mind that the results may or may not be what you hypothesized.)

For instance, if you built a battery to store energy created from wind turbines, but the battery only stored energy for two hours instead of 12, explain not only that this occurred but what you can infer from these results.

The results and discussion section should also include any relevant charts or graphs.

Conclusions and recommendations

End your report with a section that highlights the significance of your project and wraps up ideas by recommending the next steps.

For example, let’s say you’re writing about a battery to store energy from a wind turbine. You might discuss what changes need to be made to the battery to help create a longer storage time.

Make Sure Your Report Isn’t Half-Baked

“Nevermind Them, Let Me Eat Cake!” by peasap, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)/cropped

Still not sure whether your project report is baked to perfection or merely half-baked?

Here are some additional resources to help.

If you’d like to compare your report to a few example project reports, read this chemistry lab report and a project report titled Hydraulic Performance of Culvert with Different Fishways.

You might also want to check out these annotated examples of project reports.

And if you want to make sure your project report has all the right finishing touches, here are some general writing resources:

Our editors at Kibin can help too. They might not necessarily be expert bakers, but they’re expert editors who can help make sure your paper is delish!

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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