Work Term Reports

Friday, January 5, 2018 is the DUE DATE for Work Term Reports for students on the September - December 2017 work term.

Each Co-op and PEP/Internship student must submit a report related to their work term activity at the end of every 4-month term of work, i.e. 2 reports for 8 months of work, 3 reports for 12 months, etc. Satisfactory reports for a minimum of four 4-month work terms are required for graduation with the Co-op designation; one for each 4-month term is required for PEP/Internship. Employers may require other reports from students as part of the job.  Students who miss a work report will have "Failed to Submit" appear on their Co-op Work Term History.

In today's world, all organizations depend on good communication for their success; consequently, communication skills are of particularly vital importance to your professional career. Paramount among those skills is the ability to write effectively, therefore, report writing is considered to be a very significant part of your education.

A work-term report offers you an opportunity to develop your skills in collecting, evaluating, organizing and presenting information on a particular subject. During each work term, you will get the chance to prepare a variety of reports, which will become, for you and your employer, a permanent record of your work.

The reports are graded, on a pass/fail basis, by the co-op coordinator or a faculty member from Computer Science (professor) and are an important factor in determining if your work term is successful.  The report may be returned to the student or the employer, or retained by the Faculty at the discretion of the Co-op Coordinator.

The objectives of work-term reports are to help you to:

  • Develop technical writing skills;
  • Develop skills in analytical and reflective thinking and design;
  • Advance your career by giving you the opportunity to evaluate the work you have done and self-assess your personal growth.

Proofreading

Excessive numbers of spelling, typographic and grammatical errors are grounds for rejection of your report. All students are presumed to be able to write a report in clear, proper English, and lack of proficiency is not an acceptable excuse for a badly written report.

Confidentiality

You must discuss the issue of potential confidentiality with your supervisor well before you start writing your report. Employers will not want you to publicly reveal information that exposes company trade secrets, makes the company look bad, exposes the company to potential lawsuits, or gives other useful information to competitors.

You must make every effort to avoid a report that your employer is not willing to let faculty members read. This is for two reasons: We want to learn about what you are doing, and we want to ensure that you are treated in the same way as other co-op students.

You can explain to your employer that, a) the document is not made officially 'public' in any way, and b) marking is done by some faculty member within the Faculty of Computer Science. Nevertheless, this might not be enough to satisfy your employer.

Even if the bulk of your work is highly confidential, you can normally discuss issues that are non-confidential. Another approach that is often possible is to carefully mask confidential information by changing names, omitting key details, etc. If you do mask information, you should say so in either the report or the letter of transmittal.

Work Term Report Requirements for the 1st and 2nd Undergraduate Work Terms

Undergraduate students will submit a reflective style report for their first and second work terms. This report is intended to show clearly how the experiences of each work term have contributed to the student’s development as an emerging professional.  The report must include a letter of submittal, title page and these 3 specified sections (2 to 4 pages) plus an appendix (professional log):

  • Introduction
    • explains the work term context (who, where, when, what, why).
  • Summary
    • an overview of your responsibilities, any specialized training during the term, etc.  Comments should be made on the work term environment, how prepared you felt for this position, and the level of supervision and mentoring you received.
  • Professional/Personal Development
    • how you were able to develop as an emerging professional, what technical and business content you learned.
    • this should include, most importantly, a reflection of each of your own personal work term goals, including a self-assessment of the level of skill attained.

Appendix (professional log)

Each term’s monthly log must be verified and initialed by the on-the-job IT supervisor and signed by them before the student leaves the work term.  Each logged activity will be expressed in action-oriented terms (use verbs) which clearly indicate the area of involvement and the student’s role. The student will type all of the needed information, including the Supervisor’s name and address information, on the log page before having the Supervisor verify/initialing each month’s activities and sign at the bottom of the log; if two supervisors are involved in initialing and signing the log, then both of their names and job titles must appear at the bottom of the log form. If necessary, the form may be expanded to include an extra page but the table format should be preserved. The font may be shrunk, within reason, to allow the log to fit on one page. A sample “Professional Log” for a 4-month work term is shown at Guidelines for Writing Professional Logs  (.pdf file)

 Professional Journal and Logs

 As a part of professional practice, a personal journal should be carefully maintained on  a daily/weekly basis by each student during the work term.  The journal is a hardbound book which serves as a permanent record of the student’s professional activities.  The contents of the journal will identify the daily work performed, project brainstorming, important conversations concerning the work, and other relevant aspects of the work for which the student is responsible.  Each daily journal entry is dated and is written in the first person in either paragraph or point form.  Journals are retained by the individual student and are not typically submitted for evaluation.  In some cases they can be used as a legal document in court cases or patent disputes.

The journal entries will be summarized and condensed later when preparing the entries for the professional log which is required for the first two work term reports and which should be useful for future consideration towards the I.S.P. professional designation.   To have their Co-op or PEP experience qualify for partial credit towards the ISP designation, students graduating from IT programs such as Computer Science will need to have clear documentation available so that their work term experience may be evaluated. This work term experience must be presented in a brief but clear and complete way for consideration.  It is the student’s responsibility to keep their own professional logs (in both hard copy and electronic form) for any future consideration towards the I.S.P. designation.

Work Term Report Requirements for 3rd and 4th undergraduate work terms and all MCS work terms

The work term report for 3rd and 4th undergraduate work terms and all MCS work terms contains an analytical element, relating academic knowledge to practical experience. Its purpose is to help you develop written and analytical skills; you will not only gather information, but interpret, organize and present it clearly and understandably.

It may also allow you to examine in detail aspects of a project or the organization which you did not have the opportunity to study during your daily work. Ideally, the work will be of practical benefit to your employer.

Choosing a subject is the most important aspect of your work term report. Your employer may help in selection of a topic. This is to their advantage since their early contribution can lead to a report that will be of direct use to them. Your “outside” objective view of a problem or situation can benefit the organization.

The report must be analytical in nature. In other words, the report must do one or more of the following:

  • Explain why something is the way it is.
  • Give thoughtful commentary about what is good and bad about something (pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages).
  • Discuss problems faced by you, the company or its customers and explain how they were solved and why they were solved that way.
  • Discuss how something could be improved.

Reports filled with large amounts of technical facts are not acceptable. Technical facts should only be presented to justify an argument or to give just enough background material so that the reader can understand the remainder of the report.

Most common types of reports written for employers fail to meet the above guidelines as they generally focus on the results or a product and not the student's role in the work:

  • reference manuals, user guides, configuration guides: never acceptable;
  • design documents: only acceptable if the bulk of the report focuses on explaining the rationale for design decisions and your role in those decisions;
  • specifications or requirements documents: unacceptable, unless the majority of the document explains in detail the rationale for the requirements and your role in the creation of the document;
  • research reports where you have gathered information on a certain topic: unlikely to be acceptable.

Reports edited by company staff are not acceptable, unless they were reviewed solely for confidentiality reasons.

If a report you have written for your employer does not meet the above criteria, you may still be able to take the report as it stands and enhance it so that it does meet the criteria –effectively creating a new document based on the original. If you do this, you should say so in your letter of transmittal. For example, if you have written a very long document with many technical details, you can cut out most of the technical details and enhance the analytical component as well as explain your role in the work.

Finally, the work term report is a permanent record of your work and, if well done, serves faculty, other CO-OP students and potential employers as an example of your abilities.

Unity of Theme

Your report should mention all the work your were asked to perform in the introduction so the reader clearly understand your entire work term duties, but then should concentrate on one topic, so it is a coherent in depth discussion of that topic rather than a superficial report on many things. The introduction should explain the key ideas you will be discussing, with the body of the report provided detailed discussion. The conclusion should summarize what you have said. The entire report should be written to an audience of other students in the same program as yourself, not your manager or the professor who might read your report later. Anything that you did not know from your studies to that point and is needed to understand the report will have to be explained in the report.

It is important that all the information presented in the report be there for a valid reason. Do not add additional material just so the report is the required length, instead expand on the discussion to meet length requirements or choose another topic for the entire report. This applies also for appendices - only add appendices if they serve to justify points you have made in the body of the report. For example, don't include large amounts of source code; if you feel source code is truly necessary to illustrate points you are making - provide only a few samples (maximum 100 lines) and normally put these in an appendix.

Length of Report

Your report must contain at least 9 pages of single-spaced text (12 point Times New Roman font or similar, using a standard report format). The main body of the report must be at least 4500 words. You should also, in addition, include figures, tables, appendices, etc., as necessary. The total length of the report should not exceed 15 pages (7500 words). Normal reports are the equivalent of 8 to 10 pages (4000 to 5000 words). Figures, tables, program listings, quoted material and the like do not count in report length.

References

You must pay very careful attention to explain where all of the information in your report comes from. This means that you must give full references for all the ideas you talk about (not only quotations).

Remember that referencing material improperly exposes you to a charge of plagiarism. This serious academic offence results in a failed report and possibly further University sanctions

(see the UNB Calendar for further details – http://eservices.unb.ca/calendar/undergraduate/display.cgi?tables=regulations&id=10)

Report Requirements

  1. Letter of Transmittal

    The letter of transmittal should be typewritten, single-spaced and follow good business format. It should be addressed to the Co-op Coordinator. It must accompany your report but not be bound to it (e.g. not stapled). Your letter must contain the following information:

    • Your name and student number.
    • Name of employer and name of supervisor.
    • Position held.
    • Title of report submitted.
    • Relationship between work performed and the submitted documents (if any).
    • The work term completed (first, second, etc.).
    • Acknowledgment of assistance and statement that the report is your own work.

    You can also use the letter to pass on any further information regarding the work term or the report.
  2. The Report

    Please note the following requirements for this co-op report:

    • All pages should be numbered (including any appendices);
    • References to other publications or to appendices should be precise (page numbers, etc.);
    • Avoid adding generic descriptions of the company or products unless relevant to your topic;
    • Add a glossary if the text includes numerous technical terms;
    • The appendix may contain such items as lengthy tables, computer code or maps;
    • Use of figures, graphs, or histograms may add clarity and shorten your text;
    • Organize your report in sections and use headings;
    • Use a font size of 12 point (14 points for headings) and single line spacing.

    Sample Technical Report (.pdf)

    Please also refer to the posted requirements when writing your report. The Director of Co-op (Faculty Member) will mark the Technical report using the following evaluation form:

    Technical Report Evaluation (.pdf)
  3. Report Relationship to CS 3997, CS 4983, and CS 4997

    Work that is submitted to fulfill the requirements of a Co-op report are normally not to overlap with reports that are submitted to fulfill the requirements of CS 3997, CS 4983 or CS 4997. If a student wishes to have overlap between reports, then they must first receive written permission from the co-op director and the instructor of the CS 3997/4983/4997 course.

Contacting the Co-op Coordinator

If your Co-op work term involves unusual circumstances, and you are therefore unsure about whether your report meets the above requirements, you should contact the Co-op Coordinator. You should do this by e-mail since the Coordinator has a large number of students to deal with, and a record of the discussion is important to have in case there is a problem later.

Before contacting the Coordinator, please be sure to re-read these guidelines to ensure that your question has not been answered. In your e-mail, explain the difficulties you are having and provide the outline for your proposed report. The Coordinator will then indicate whether you are on the right track. In the end, you remain responsible to ensure that your final report meets the requirements.