Student Progress Report Cover Letter

The following short progress report, written by a student in geology, provides an excellent example of how concrete and affirmative a progress report can be. Note the specificity even in the title, and how sections such as "Remaining Questions" and "Expected Results" demonstrate that the writer, even though he is two months away from the completion of his thesis, is thinking about the work in a professional manner.

Click here to open a sample progress report within this page.

Progress Report

"Stratigraphic Architecture of Deep-Ramp Carbonates: Implications for Deposition
of Volcanic Ashes, Salona and Coburn Formations, Central Pennsylvania"
by John Lerner


The Late Middle Ordovician-age Salona and Coburn formations of central Pennsylvania show cyclic patterns on a scale of tens of meters.  Little research has been done on sequence stratigraphy of deep-water mixed carbonate/siliciclastic systems, and a depositional model for this environment is necessary to understand the timing and processes of deposition. The stratigraphic position of the bentonites at the base of the larger cycles is significant because it indicates that they accumulated during a time of non-deposition in a deep water environment.


To date, I have described five lithofacies present in the Salona and Coburn formations. Two lithofacies are interpreted as storm deposits and make up the limestone component of the thinly-bedded couplets. Some trends were observed in the raw data; however, because of the "noisy" nature of the data, a plot of the five-point moving average of bed thickness was created to define the cycles better.


Two key tasks are to be completed in the coming weeks. With the results of these tests and the field observations, I will create a model for deposition of a deep-ramp mixed carbonate/siliciclastic system in a foreland basin environment. The model will include depositional processes, stratigraphic architecture, and tectonic setting.


Questions remain regarding the depositional processes responsible for the featureless micrite at the base of the Salona Formation. . . . How rapid was the transition? What record (if any?) remains of the transition?  Were bentonites not deposited, or were they selectively removed at certain locations by erosive storm processes?


I expect to find that the large-scale cycles represent parasequences. Flooding surfaces are marked by bentonites and shales, with bentonites removed in some locations. If the cycles are true parasequences, the implication is that eustatic sea level changes and not tectonic influences controlled the depositional changes over the interval.

Product Description

This is a page that I included with progress reports. Parents had a lot of questions with our reporting system, and it was a nice uniform letter to explain why many grades are "not yet taught". It also gives parents a quick glance of what we will be working on for the rest of the year.

My favorite part is the second page. For years, I have sent home progress reports and have heard nothing back from parents. Then final reports come home, and parents question the final grades. This is a "have to" report from parents that students MUST bring back. Most parents just send it back with a signature, but a least I know they have seen their child's report.

This is the report that I send home along with the student's progress report. It is in Word form, so please feel free to edit it as you wish. If you need me to send you a PDF version, just send me a message and I can send it to you.

To print, I would print the pages double sided so that parents could just send back the last page and keep the first 2 pages for reference. (The examples are simple screen shots of the page as the file was too large to attach a better view.)

This can be easily edited to fit any grade level.

I can also see how this can be used for conferences too!

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