Guide to Completing Your Final Report

The ISTLD sometimes receives requests from project teams for either examples of project final reports or advice on how to write them. It is challenging to respond with generic advice as all the projects are very different from one another and faculty bring a wide-range of research tools and perspectives to the task of doing their projects. As a result, each project can have unique reporting needs. This document provides a general outline of how to proceed, but we encourage faculty who feel they might need advice on analysis, data display or reporting to contact ISTLD’s research associate (Laura D’Amico, ldamico@sfu.ca) to talk through their concerns and get some advice.

Purposes of a Final Report

  1. Demonstrates accountability
    • The project PI is accountable to ISTLD for completion of the work
    • In turn, the ISTLD is accountable to the VPA and must demonstrate the project funding has been well-spent
  2. Enables the project findings and experience to be shared with other faculty
    • The reports are made public on the ISTLD website
    • We provide links to final reports to other faculty developing related project proposals
    • We often provide links to final reports for faculty conducting projects or writing up their own reports
  3. Provides a source of research and evaluation data for the project's impact.    
    • Evidence of project impact on student learning and experience
    • Evidence of project impact on instructor learning and growth
    • Evidence of project impact beyond it original intent (that is, “ripple effects”)

Because of the accountability role final reports serve, faculty who do not turn in final reports or do not make requested edits are ineligible for future funding from the ISTLD.

How we evaluate final reports

For about 40% of the final reports turned in, we do ask for some edits. We do our best to minimize such requests and most are for minor changes to improve clarity. We look for the following in the reports:

  1. Did you do what you said you were going to do?
  2. Can we understand what you did? Will other faculty understand what you did?
  3. Can we understand what you learned? Will other faculty understand what you learned?
  4. Did you complete all the sections of the final report template?

To get started: Re-read your proposal, especially the section titled, “Contents of the Final Report

Part I of the final report template: Report of findings

This is the bulk of your final report. We want you to organize it in a way that makes sense to you and write in a reporting style that feels comfortable given your disciplinary training. It does not have to have a formal style like that used in a journal article, but it does need to be clear, organized and understandable by other faculty at SFU. (See Proposal and Final Report Exemplars, for several final reports of very different kinds that do a good job of meeting our core criteria: http://www.sfu.ca/istld/faculty/resources/exemplars.html)

Some faculty members write, “see attached,” for this section and append a technical report or draft manuscript to the end of the final report template, or as a separate document. This strategy is fine.

We have been asked at times to “not post” this section of the final report if either (a) it is a draft manuscript under review or (b) contains sensitive information or (c) contains policy recommendations that need approval by departments or administration. We request under these circumstances that you include a 1-2 page summary of your main findings and conclusions (essentially an extended abstract). We still want other faculty to learn from your project and they can’t do so if your findings aren’t available at all. Manuscript review can take a long time and in the meantime, the summary will do. We will make arrangements to check back with you regarding when the full final report can be posted on our website.

As you write the report of findings section, keep in mind the following:

  1. It should cover everything mentioned in the section of your proposal titled, “Contents of the Final Report.”
  2. Think of other faculty at SFU as your audience.
  3. Include a brief description of the intent of your project (the problem you were trying to address or the question you were trying to explore) so that those reading the report have some context. It may help to start with the introduction from your proposal and edit that.
  4. Describe any changes of instruction, class structure, or teaching techniques that were the objects of study well enough that other faculty could see what you did and might be able to try it themselves.
  5. Describe the data you collected and your analysis methods. This description may be brief in nature, but as with a typical research report in your field, it should be clear what your data sources are and you should give your readers a basic understanding of the way you went about looking at your data. Please name and give citation information for published instruments (surveys, observation protocols, etc.) you have used or adapted. Include in an appendix those you have personally developed. For those working with kinds of data and analysis they’ve not done before, we offer advice on data analysis.
  6. Display your data and findings clearly. Make sure your data is understandable to others.  If you use tables and graphs make sure they are clearly labeled. If you use a more narrative means of describing data and findings, make clear the breadth of the data you’re calling upon to support your story. If you or your RA are new to the kind of data you are representing, we can provide advice on data display. (See Excel Graph Templates)
  7. Describe your experiences and/or results: How did your changes go?  What was their impact? What went well? What did not? What did you learn?
  8. Provide your conclusions and recommendations based on your findings. What would you do again?  What do you plan to change? What are the implications of what you learned?

Parts II to V: Changes & Implications; Sharing & Dissemination; Keywords & Student Involvement

This section of the final report template mostly provides accountability, evaluation and research data for ISTLD. We do publish lists of project-related papers and publications, and trace the impact the projects have on students, faculty and (where applicable) SFU’s programs and structures. It typically takes only 10-15 minutes to complete.

  1. Complete all segments of this part of the template. If you have no response for a particular section, please write “no” or “not applicable.”
  2. Your response can be short and to the point for each of the questions in this section.
  3. If there were changes made to your project so that it differs from your original proposal, they should be described here. As long as these are relatively small and well justified they are okay. (If you encounter the need to make major changes during the conduct of your project, it is best to contact ISTLD and revise your proposal accordingly at the time the need arises.)