Explore UCD

UCD Home >



A specified account of an experience, activity or experiment which may include a description, summary of findings/observations, and conclusions/recommendations. A report usually has a prescribed format in keeping with disciplinary norms.

A typical example is where students are required to produce a report (or series of reports) after participating in practical activities such as laboratory work, fieldwork, engagement with enterprise/community/general public, work experience or placement.

What can it assess ?

It can assess a student's ability to gather, organise, interpret, summarise and present information/findings in a specific context. It can assess the student’s ability to work in a self-directed manner.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Develop the ability to gather and analyse relevant data or information
  • Acquire the ability to adhere to briefs
  • Develop clear writing and/or presentation skills
  • Represent data and findings in a coherent manner
  • Can allow students some opportunity to explore areas of their own interest
  • Can reduce opportunities for plagiarism.


  • Students may struggle to understand the requirements of the brief
  • It can be time consuming for students and assessors, especially where series of reports are required  
  • Students may require additional support and guidance to develop their writing skills in keeping with disciplinary norms.

Design and Online Assessment Considerations


There are different types of disciplinary reports. They need to align with both the intended learning outcomes and purpose of the report, as well written with the target audience in mind.  

The report can be structured around different sections which can be used to support students to present information in a logical and coherent manner. Where the use of sections is appropriate, it can be helpful to provide guidelines to students regarding the structure of the report and the requirements for each of the sections. This is often described as a 'brief'.

Consider the following questions:

  • Does the brief offer students a clear set of guidelines? For example, does the brief specify the aim of the report? Who is the target audience? 
  • If students are to structure the report using specific sections, how will they be supported to understand what is expected of them? Are there opportunities for students to practice and be formatively assessed before final submission? 
  • Is the time and effort required to gather data and write a report appropriate for the weighting of the assignment? 
  • How can students be supported to develop their ability to write clearly and in accordance with disciplinary norms?

Use a rubric, or similar, to help clarify expectations and to support student feedback and/or opportunity for self/ peer review before submission of their report.

Online Assessment

Tools and technologies to support this assessment type include:

Preparing Students

Integrate writing into classroom or online learning activities to help support students to develop their report writing skills. The report brief should clearly set out the purpose of the report, together with the specified audience and issue to be addressed. Additionally, provide clear guidelines for the format and structure of the report. Exemplars may also be used to help students to make sense of these expectations.

Learn More 

The following are some key resources that are currently available if you would like to learn more about this key assessment type.


  • Bird, F and Yucel, R. (2015). Feedback codes and action plans: building the capacity of first-year students to apply feedback to a scientific report. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40 (4) 508-527.
  • Warwick Development Centre (2020), Using a Report to Assess Learning