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WRiSE – Write Reports in Science and Engineering

21 August 2009

For the linguistics seminar today, Helen Drury and Dr Janet Jones presented some of the detail behind what they termed the ‘ evolution’ of WRISE, an e-learning project now supporting students’ report writing in six different science courses and three engineering courses.

The WRiSE site is an ALTC funded project designed to create a freely available, student-centred, cross disciplinary, online learning environment that supports learning of report writing by undergraduate students in engineering and science. The site addresses the writing needs of students in these disciplines who traditionally struggle with their writing and, although created for all students, particular parts of the modules meet the needs of students from diverse language backgrounds. The design draws on genre-based literacy pedagogy and phenomenography as well as research into multimodality. In addition, the experience of developing, implementing and evaluating individual discipline-based online modules for report writing over the last 10 years has provided a strong framework for this site. [Drury, abstract for the talk]

As you would expect, the team developing the WRiSE modules needed to include experts from a number of areas. In educational technology terms, one of the key features was the use of javascript to animate graphics that represented text sequnces dynamically, showing chains of Themes or cohesion or genre sequences, and the academic developers assigned a lot of credit to the team’s graphic designer for these. It was for me another piece of evidence for my belief that the key gain in doing instructional design is what emerges when you translate expert knowledge into other formats – in the WRiSE pages, simple (in appearance) graphics.

These were the references cited by Drury.

Drury, H. (2004) Teaching academic writing on screen: a search for best practice. In L. Ravelli & R. Ellis (eds), Analysing academic writing: contextualised frameworks, London: Continuum. [<3 love this book]

Johns, A. M. (2002) Genre in the classroom: multiple perspectives. Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Jones, J. (2004) ‘Learning to write in the disciplines: the application of systemic functional linguistic theory to the teaching and research of student writing’. In L. Ravelli & R. Ellis (eds), Analysing academic writing: contextualised frameworks, London: Continuum.

Lea, M. R. & Street, B. (1999). Writing as academic literacies: understanding textual practices in higher education. In C. N. Candlin & K. Hyland (eds.), Writing: texts, processes and practices. London: Longman.

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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