Building Better Project Briefs

Andrew Hawryshkewich

Grant program: Multilingual Classroom

Grant recipient: Andrew Hawryshkewich, School of Interactive Arts & Technology

Project team: Betty Ackah, research assistant

Timeframe: August 2019 to December 2020

Funding: $4380

Course addressed

  • IAT 235 – Information Design

Final report: View Andrew Hawryshkewich's final report - includes full findings as an appendix (PDF)

Description: The project brief in my course tends to be very text-heavy for students – see for an example. While there are other parts of the course that help support student’s understanding of what projects will expect of them – in-lecture and lab oral introductions, exercises to help guide project development – the project brief provides the most relevant details of expectations and requirements. I believe this can be an impediment to student’s understanding, particularly if reading English and terminology specific to our discipline can be a challenge.

Given different types of English comprehension challenges such as oral, written, academic, and cultural, I believe that there is an opportunity to help all students’ comprehension of the project by exploring other avenues of presenting the brief itself. As the course itself is on Information Design, I believe it is an ideal opportunity to explore combining text and other media (images, linking, audio, video, etc), to try and support students’ comprehension of the project and its expectations.

Questions addressed:

  • Does the work students turn in suggest they have understood the project brief?
  • Do students feel they understand the project brief?
  • What do students feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the project brief?
  • What suggestions do students have for improving the project brief?
  • Are there differences in students’ understanding of, opinions about or suggestions for the project brief(s) based on their linguistic background?
  • What do faculty think are the strengths and weaknesses of the project brief guidelines?
  • What suggestions do faculty have for improving the project brief guidelines?

Knowledge sharing: I intend to present my findings to the faculty at one of our school’s “teaching corners” – a time during school meetings in which we share our work/research around teaching.

Keywords: Multilingual learners, project outlines, guidelines for writing