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Trip Report Assignments

posted: 7.22.14 by Traci Gardner

Earlier this month, I wrote about Writing Center Trip Reports in my Ink’d In column, and I want to talk a bit more about trip report assignments. I developed the activity for professional writing, but I’ve adapted it to work for literature and first-year writing classes as well.

The Genre
In the workplace, trip reports document what happened during a trip. Some businesses use the reports to show how the goals for the trip were met. Others use the reports to share what happened with the rest of the organization.

The format for the report varies from company to company, but generally, the report

  • explains the goals for the trip.
  • documents what actually happened.
  • summarizes the lessons learned and/or outlines any follow-up that needs to take place.
  • (optionally) includes an expense report for the trip.

If you think widely, it’s a genre that we use outside of the workplace too. I composed my first trip report in second grade when Mrs. Clark gave us a sheet of paper and crayons and asked us to draw a picture of what happened on our field trip to the train station. Now that I’m (mostly) past the crayon stage, I use scrapbooking as a kind of personal trip report.

The Goals
The primary pedagogical goal is to engage students in a reflective writing activity that reports on something they have done. It’s simple and straightforward. In many ways, the writing is similar to a book report or a reading response activity.

My underlying goals come from the kinds of trips students can focus on. I’ve already written about the writing center trip reports. I have two other ways I use trip reports. First, if students miss a class for some event (e.g., a job interview, a conference), they can write a trip report to make up the in-class work they miss. Second, I use the reports as make-up and extra credit work to encourage students to participate in cultural activities on campus and in the local community. It’s my way of bringing things like LGBT History Month or Jewish Heritage Month into the classroom, even when they don’t fit the topic of the course.

How It Works
Students attend an approved event. I give them lists of events early in the term, which focuses primarily on cultural events on campus. If the students are in literature or FYC courses, I include events on campus that relate to the focus of the course in the list. They can ask for approval for things that are not covered, like a job interview or a campus event that I missed.

After attending the event, they write up a trip report, including the information mentioned above in the genre section. They have to turn their reports in within one week of the event. They can earn bonus points for including swag or photos to help document their participation.

I do include limitations on the number of trip reports to ensure that they don’t choose to do trip reports instead of the work for the course.

Students usually respond positively to this assignment. Since it is an extra credit or make-up activity, those who don’t like it are not bothered by it. For me, the best part is when a student reports that he didn’t really want to attend an event, but was blown away by it and is so glad he went.

Have you tried an assignment to encourage students to participate in campus events? Would you try this assignment? I would love to hear your feedback. Please me a comment below, or drop by my page on Facebook or Google+.

[Photo: Deep beneath Cleveland Hopkins International Airport… by See here? Hear sea!, on Flickr]

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One Response to “Trip Report Assignments”

  1. Akilah Says:

    Love this idea!