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Developing Your Project Sequence

Projects and Assignments

Courses are comprised of projects, and projects are comprised of activities and assignments. These activities and assignments provide the scaffolding for the completion of the project as a whole.

For example, see the following project from Andy’s ENGL 1102 class. The final project is a collaboratively-produced website that curates instances of electronic literature. To accomplish that task—and to learn and practice outcomes in process, collaboration, critical thinking, argumentation, research, and multimodal composition—the project contains a number of assignments (twelve, in fact).

Project 2: Curated Electronic Literature Website – Project stages

Research and Planning

    • Mini-Reviews of Electronic Literature Blog Post (Individual)
    • Annotated Bibliography Blog Post (Individual)
    • Group Project Proposal and Collaboration Plan (Group)

Prototyping, Drafting, and Revising

    • Rough Website Wireframe and Critical Introduction Rough Draft (Group)
    • Peer Review Message 1 (Individual)
    • Website Working Draft 1, including Group Introduction (Group)
    • Peer Review Message 2 (Group)
    • Website Working Draft 2, including Group Introduction (Group)
    • Peer Review Message 3 (Group)
    • Website Final Draft (Group)

Reflection and Evaluation

    • Project 2 Collaboration Evaluation (Individual)
    • Project 2 Reflection (Individual)

Note that the two blog posts are low-stakes assignments (quickly graded with check/check-plus/check-minus); only the project proposal/collaboration plan and website final are substantively graded. The drafts, peer review messages, collaboration evaluation, and reflection contribute toward a process grade—if students complete and submit all of the stages, they receive a certain number of points for the project.

Your projects and assignments don’t necessarily need to be as complex or as detailed as this particular example—but do consider how your 3-5 major projects are comprised of individual assignments that serve to support student understanding of process; scaffold and support student learning related to particular outcomes (e.g., use of evidence, research, etc.); and break down the project into feasible steps.

Considering the Project/Assignment Workload

While defining the amount of work in traditional, writing-based composition and technical communication courses is relatively straightforward, planning the amount of work is more challenging in a multimodal curriculum. When thinking about your course’s project workload, consider (a) the number of projects, (b) the drafting/processes/scaffolding of creating the work product, and (c) the time involved in creating the work product. All of these are factors in deciding what’s too little, too much, or just right.

All courses must require students to complete three to five discrete, major/substantive projects. (If, for example, you choose three rather than four or five, the three projects are necessarily more substantive.) For the purposes of your first semester, we recommend that ENGL instructors plan three major projects in addition to the Common First Week video and the end-of-semester Portfolio. We recommend that LMC 3403 instructors plan three or four major projects. LMC 3431/3432 instructors have set assignments for their courses, though you have leeway in exactly how those assignments are executed.

As you’re designing your projects, keep the following requirements in mind:

  • Individual Project(s). At least one project should involve an individually authored final product.
  • Collaborative Project(s). At least one project should involve a collaboratively authored final product.
  • Rhetorical Situations. Each project should have a clearly-defined rhetorical situation that is communicated to students, particularly an explicit purpose and audience.
  • Process. Attention to the recursive processes of composing (regardless of mode) is critical. These processes include critical thinking, planning, brainstorming, mapping, drafting, translating, transforming, designing, self-assessing, peer reviewing, expert assessing, revising, editing, publishing, disseminating, reflecting. Every project must involve multiple drafts, stages, or subparts.
  • Substantial Prose Artifact. Every student must produce at least one substantively prose artifact—polished and public facing (or of a quality to be public facing). In both English 1101 and English 1102, the prose artifact needs to make a sustained argument. Such projects necessarily include visual elements in the design of the information and, optionally, embedded visual/graphic elements.
  • Writing Everywhere. Every project must involve writing during one or more phases of the project (in the planning, in the final artifact, and/or in the reflection)—even those projects that are largely oral or visual. All the modes are equal, but writing is more equal than the others.
  • Multiple Modalities. All the modes should be engaged over the your course sequence—that is, by the end of the course, students should have produced work in all the WOVEN modes. At the same time, every project must engage more than one modality; the best projects will engage all modalities during the course of the project. For example, in completing a “This I believe…” essay and oral recording project, students may write analyses of NPR examples, produce several drafts of their own essay, provide written and oral feedback on peer drafts, include a slide show/photo essay to accompany their oral presentation, and so on.
  • Multimodal Synergy. You should design projects that help students understand the ways in which modalities reinforce and complement one another during composition and in the final work product.
  • Reflection. Build reflection activities into your projects—make it a part of the project process.

Project Menus

One way to consider developing your course sequence, particularly in your first semester, is to use one of the following project menus.

ENGL 1101/1102 Project Menu

For ENGL 1101/1102, we recommend planning three major projects in addition to the Common First Week Video and end-of-semester Portfolio. Use the menu below to think through possible options for your three projects.

Note: ENGL 1102 requires a substantive research project. Research is often a part of ENGL 1101 in practice, though it is not required in the same way.

Select project emphasizing W (but with OVEN in the process) Select project emphasizing O/N (but with WVE in the process) Select project emphasizing  V (but with WOEN in the process) Design scaffolded feedback/review 
Feature article Presentation slides  with voiceover Infographic Peer reviews
Wiki article Podcast PSA video Checklists
Annotated bibliog. Panel presentation Poster Sketches
Analytical essay Museum guide recording Website Storyboards
Review/commentary Individual Pitch Book covers Annotated drafts
Your own choice Your own choice Your own choice Outlines
Audio/video clips
User/usability tests
TrackChanges
Your own choice

Here is a project sequence that shows the mix and match possibilities (and, of course, many more options exist):

Sample project sequence

(0) Project Zero Common First Week Video

Scaffolding/process: Video analysis; brainstorming; script drafting; rough storyboard; reflection

(1) W—feature article for an online newspaper or magazine

Scaffolding/process: Brainstorming/mind-mapping; oral pitch; research; annotated bibliography; rough drafts; peer reviews; reflection

(2) V—an infographic

 Scaffolding/process: Tech review memo; sketches; peer review/user testing; reflection

(3) O—a group presentation

Scaffolding/process: Group collaboration agreement; research; outlining/storyboarding; script draft; notes page draft; reflection

(4) Portfolio—Document process. Describe growth/awareness. Select representative work.

Scaffolding: Portfolio plan/outline; semester reflection; reflective essay rough draft; peer review

LMC 3403 Project Menu

For LMC 3403, we recommend planning three or four major projects—the Common First Week and end-of-semester Portfolio are not required. Use the menu below to think through possible options for your projects.

For LMC 3403 Business sections, your projects should emphasize genres found in business workplaces. For LMC 3403 General sections, your projects should emphasize more technical genres found in computer science and engineering workplaces. For each, your textbook and the sample syllabi can provide a wealth of ideas.

Select project emphasizing W (but with OVEN in the process) Select project emphasizing O/N (but with WVE in the process) Select project emphasizing  V (but with WOEN in the process) Design scaffolded feedback/review 
Rhetorical analysis memo 30-second Elevator Pitch Virtual Interview Peer reviews
LinkedIn profile Presentation Slides w/ Voiceover Website redesign Checklists
Proposal TED Talk Ads/brochures Sketches
Recommendation Report Recorded virtual interview with business professional Promotional video Storyboards
Manual (e.g., one policy section) Podcast Infographic Annotated drafts
Glossary Presentation (Individual – e.g., Pecha Kucha – or Group)

Graphic Novel/

Childrens’ Book

Outlines
Instructions Virtual Interview Data visualization Audio/video clips
Resume Presentation (Individual – e.g., Pecha Kucha – or Group) User/usability tests
TrackChanges
Your own choice Your own choice Your own choice Your own choice

Sample project sequence for LMC 3403:

(1) V—Virtual interview

Scaffolding/process: Resume and cover letter; job analysis memo; rehearsal recording and analysis

(2) W—a group recommendation report with proposal

Scaffolding/process: Brainstorming/mind-mapping; oral pitch; research; annotated bibliography; rough drafts; peer reviews; reflection

(3) W, V—a group promotional campaign (digital ad campaign and social media plan)

Scaffolding/process: Brainstorming/mind-mapping; oral pitch; research; annotated bibliography; rough drafts; peer reviews; reflection

(4) O—a group presentation

Scaffolding/process: Group collaboration agreement; research; outlining/storyboarding; script draft; notes page draft; reflection

LMC 3431/3432 Projects

LMC 3432 is paired with CS 3311 as Part 1 of the CS-Tech Comm course sequence. Part 1 includes the following projects:

  • Project management
  • Vision statement
  • User stories and acceptance test criteria
  • UX/decision support
  • Final presentation/demo

LMC 3431 is paired with CS 3312 as Part 2 of the CS-Tech Comm course sequence. Part 2 includes the following projects:

  • Project management
  • Detailed design
  • Retrospectives
  • Final expo presentation/demo
  • Reflection