Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writing Reports

There are various types of formal reports and the format of a report depends on its type, purpose, and intended audience. For example, a report on an accident will be distinct from a report on a school activity.

Bear in mind that all reports have one aim ? to communicate information to others and it is vital that you know your role as a writer and what it is that you are required to convey in your report.

Take a look at the following question.

Your school recently organised a Leadership Camp for all presidents and secretaries of the various clubs in your school. You are the Editor of the School Magazine. You, too, attended the camp and you have been asked to write a report for the school magazine. In your report, include the following information:

Place: Perimbun Resort, Cheras

Date: 27-29th July

Participants: Presidents and secretaries of various clubs in school

Organised by: Co-curricular Unit

Objectives of the camp:

- to instil leadership qualities

- to improve teamwork

Facilitators: Youth leaders from local university


Day 1 ?

? Briefing by facilitators

? Setting up tents

? Group activities

Day 2 ?

? Morning exercise

? Survival skills

? Night hike

Day 3 ?

? Feedback session

The above question requires you to write a report on a school activity. Below are two samples based on the same question.

Sample 1

Integrated Leadership Camp

The Co-curricular Unit of SMK Setia recently organised an Integrated Leadership Camp at Perimbun Resort, Cheras, from 27-29th July. The objectives of the camp were to instil leadership qualities and improve teamwork among the 50 participants who attended this camp. The activities at the camp were handled by several youth leaders from a local university.

All participants, presidents and secretaries of the various clubs in school, had gathered at the school hall at 2pm. From there, they were taken to the campsite in two buses. They were accompanied by five teachers, including the senior assistant of co-curricular affairs Puan Ng. Upon arrival at the campsite, they were given a briefing by the facilitators. Then, they were put into groups and asked to set up tents. By 7pm, most of them had accomplished this task successfully. After dinner, the participants had to engage in their first group activity. They were required to come up with names and theme songs for their groups.

The second day of the camp was much more hectic. The participants had a rigorous exercise session which involved aerobics and jogging around the campsite. Then, after breakfast, they had to display their survival skills. In the afternoon, the participants had another round of physical activities. They engaged in canoeing in the nearby lake.

The night programme was the most interesting. Participants had to take part in a night hike.

There was only one activity on the third day of the camp ? the feedback session. The participants rated the programme highly and hoped that it would be held annually.

The leadership camp was a huge success because all participants showed tremendous support by actively participating in all the activities throughout the duration of the camp.

Written by,
Ly Ly
Sample 2

Integrated Leadership Camp

The weekend of 27-29th July this year will forever be etched in the minds of the 50 participants who attended the Integrated Leadership Camp organised by the Co-curricular Unit of SMK Setia. The two-day two night camp, held at Perimbun Resort, Cheras, some 20 miles away from the city centre, was a compulsory activity for all presidents and secretaries of the various clubs in school. The objectives of the camp were to instil leadership qualities and improve teamwork among participants. Although the students were accompanied by several teachers, all activities were conducted by youth leaders from a local university.

Most of the students, who are in Form Four this year, were very excited throughout the 45-minute journey to the campsite. Upon arrival, they were immediately whisked off to the seminar room where they were given a briefing on the rules and regulations at the campsite by the facilitators. Then, they were put into groups of five and asked to erect their own tents.

Luckily for my group, we had the President of the Scouts Club with us. In no time, he had instructed us on how to put up the tent. Unfortunately, some of the other groups were struggling with their tents and seeing their dismal efforts some of us decided to help them. Apparently, this was the first test of our teamwork skills and fortunately, many of us passed with flying colours. After dinner, we had a group dynamics activity, where we had to come up with names, logos and jingles for our groups. Well, with names like the Flying Potters and Forever Dumbledores, and jingles ranging from pop rock to jazz, the students of SMK Setia proved that they are indeed a creative lot.

The second day of the camp started off with an early morning exercise session at 5.30am. The two energetic facilitators, Tim and Ashraf, took us through a rigorous exercise routine. Many of us who barely exercise knew what to expect over the next few days ? muscle cramps. After the one-hour aerobic session, we jogged through Perimbun town, which was a pale shadow of its daytime hustle and bustle. The early morning exercise was invigorating and refreshing. We had enough time for a quick shower and breakfast, before we took part in more group activities.

These activities were physically and mentally challenging. One of the activities was basic survival skills. We had to start our own fires with only two matchsticks and cook lunch for the group members. Using water from the slightly muddy stream nearby, we had to cook not only rice but also fish and vegetables. As no soap was made available to us, we learnt to wash the cooking utensils using ash. Later in the afternoon, we had activities like flying fox and abseiling. Through these activities, we learnt to trust each other and to give moral support when it is most needed.

The highlight of the camp was a night hike in the surrounding jungle. The facilitators led us deep into the jungle and made us sit all by ourselves. The half hour spent alone was aimed at making us brave and resilient. Though many of us were initially hesitant and sceptical about this activity, it was indeed an insightful experience.

On the final morning, we had a hearty breakfast, which was followed by a feedback session. During this session, we were given the opportunity to voice our feelings and opinions regarding the camp. Many of the participants gave constructive feedback on what the camp had taught them. We learnt about the importance of teamwork, consideration, tolerance and understanding. Most importantly, we learnt that good leadership is responsible leadership.

Reported by,

Ly Ly

Both the above reports communicate what they are supposed to but one is more interesting than the other.

Sample 1 is direct and to the point. Ideas have not been elaborated and the report is very serious and impersonal.

Sample 2, on the other hand, is much more interesting because the writer has injected emotions and feelings into the report besides giving us a clearer picture of what happened at the camp.

Some of you may ask: ?Isn?t a report supposed to have a serious and formal tone?? Well, as I said earlier, it depends on who your audience is. In this case, the report is to appear in the school magazine and so the readers are the students. As such, it is all right to write a report like Sample 2. However, do be forewarned. Some students get carried away and end up making their report a narrative essay.

General guidelines to remember when writing a report

When writing a report, pay attention to the following aspects:

Type of report ? different reports have different requirements and different formats.

Language used ? some reports are written in the past tense, some (such as science reports) are written in the present tense and some require the use of the passive voice.

Also bear in mind that a report should:

Communicate its intention clearly (i.e. the purpose of the report).

Be clearly structured ? it should have an introduction, body and conclusion. The transition from introduction to body to conclusion should be smooth.

Have a title and the name of the writer/reporter and his/her designation

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