An executive summary is a concise description of a project that easily and quickly conveys necessary information. Many managers, colleagues, and/or members of the public will expect such an informational piece attached to projects, products, or reports. It usually is the first piece read and, sometimes, will be the only piece read before an interested reader skips to a methods section, the results, and/or budget information. Thus, it must grab the attention, tell the story, and include enough information so that a reader has adequate knowledge on which to base judgements or make decisions.
Therefore, I recommend that you take considerable care in the development of an executive summary. It should be written accurately and well, it should be in a one to three page format if at all possible, and it should contain attention drawing devices where appropriate, such as bullets, italics, bold face print, attractive fonts, etc.
Following are some suggested headings to consider as you develop an executive summary for any type of instructional product, proposal, or project:
1. A summary paragraph that encapsulates the entire product, including a product name, who the product is for, a description of the product, and other administrative information you deem important.
2. The product's purpose or intent.
3. A brief description of the theoretical or organizational model used to guide the planning process.
4. A brief summary of the needs that served as a basis for the product.
5. A brief summary of the goals and/or objectives derived from the needs that served to guide the instructional development process.
6. A brief description of the procedures employed during the product development efforts (meetings with clients, type of instructional analysis used, etc.).
7. A brief summary of the various evaluative procedures (formative, summative, prototype testing, revisions, etc.) employed during the design efforts.
8. Any concluding statement that makes sense given the nature of the instructional product (time management efforts, budgetary information, etc.).
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