Qualities of Effective Reports
Your reports are meant not only to demonstrate mastery of the concepts we’ve been learning in class but also to give you an opportunity to work on your writing. With that in mind, we have identified five qualities we are looking for in the technical reports that generally are signs or markers of an outstanding report. In each of these qualities, different conative strengths are represented, both in the process and in the result. Some associated conative strengths are listed under each quality. Your team may not possess all of these strengths, but the tasks they are associated with are still expected to be done.
- Demonstrates knowledge of engineering economics. For example, you should demonstrate that you can make a cash flow diagram, calculate net present value (NPV), including sample calculations, and perform a sensitivity analysis.
- Communicates clearly and effectively in a concise but thorough and organized manner. Communication involves more than your writing style—it is also based on the way you present your arguments, data, and visuals. Put another way, the organization of your report and its overall visual appeal are just as important as the words you “write” in your reports. For example, graphs included in your report should not only have proper units, labels, title, legend, and use of color and/or contrast, but should also serve to illustrate (or argue) your point in a convincing way, without resorting to tricks involving scale or units. There is no page limit, but keep in mind that being concise yet thorough is one of the categories you will be graded on.
- Shows evidence that the writers are attuned – they understand the meaning behind what they are saying and the needs of their audience. Reports should show that the writers have done background investigation into the question being addressed. In addition, reports should show that writers understand both the complexity of the problems involved in making recommendations for action as well as an appreciation for how their audience may respond to the recommendations (positively or negatively).
- Enables action. This underscores the point that your report should make a definite recommendation for the situation(s) you have defined. Also, the arguments and calculations made throughout your report should be easy to understand or explained sufficiently so that the reader understands not just what recommendations you have made, but why you made them.
- Treats the rubric as more than a checklist and goes beyond the listed requirements. Here is where you can get points for something surprising or exceptional. Extra effort can be rewarded.
Please note the above qualities do not have pre-determined weights assigned to them but instead will be based upon how well your teams demonstrate their understanding and application of them. For example, some teams may be more skilled in communication than facilitating decision making. For them, communication will be weighted more heavily than category facilitating decision making.