About the Stem Wishees Collection
The Writing in Schools Higher education and Employment Settings (WISHEES) collection of Science Technology and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) written texts, is an educational resource for STEM teachers and students. The aim of the collection is to provide a resource to help students develop STEM writing and to raise attainment in schools and universities.
In the Wishees website you can see examples of written texts from school, university and employment sectors. The school and university texts are real texts, not model answers, so the texts are not perfect and have different strengths and limitations. For each assignment, there are usually three sample texts which show ‘variation’, that is different ways of tackling the assignment. Reading the texts and noticing differences can help you develop your understanding of good quality writing in STEM subjects.
You can also listen to tutor podcasts, short informal talks about the texts. In many cases the tutors designed the assignments, so hearing what they wanted students to do and what they value in student assignments is illuminating. They talk about different aspects of the assignments for example they give explanations of what they expected students to do, they make comparisons between the texts, they comment on what they see as the strengths and weakness of the texts. Listening to the podcasts gives you some idea of what individual tutors value in student texts.
It is estimated that engineers can spend up to 40% of their time writing reports. The employment section of the WISHEES website has a range of texts from two STEM employers, Transport for London (TfL) and Astrium Ltd, which give you some idea of the writing demands you might face in employment. Again these are real texts with accompanying podcasts, often from the people who have written the texts, explaining why and how the text was written. There are examples of technical leaflets, reports, interview tasks etc.
You may want to learn more about improving your writing. Have a look at our tutorials which are designed around the WISHEES texts and show ways of improving the thinking behind the texts and the writing. For example, at school level there’s a tutorial on improving the use of scientific language in an AS level science report and at university level you can view a tutorial on the structure of a literature review in medical engineering. You’ll find a range of interactive exercises to help you explore ways of structuring and analysing content and communicating ideas in writing.
Using the website
School students can send us their rewritten paragraphs (see the Science AS level Case Study tutorial) and if we use your paragraph and post it on the website we’ll send you a £10 voucher.
So go back to the map choose a subject and click on a unit to get started.
The rationale for the collection is that students rarely see examples of their peers’ writing, and rarely see a range of writing. They may see a ‘good’ or model answer, and the danger here is that they will mimic this answer and produce formulaic responses. The texts in this collection are not model answers but real texts contributed by school and university students. For each written task, there are a range of texts (typically 3) showing varied responses to the task. Users see variation in the way students approached the task and can make comparisons between the texts. To help them in this, there are informal podcast commentaries from tutors talking about what they value in the texts. It is through seeing variation, the range of work that students can produce, that we begin to develop understandings of quality (Sadler 2010). So reading and comparing texts in a unit of the collection may help students and tutors hone their judgements about what makes a good quality assignment.
The commentaries are not offered as definitive judgements of the texts, but rather as short informal talks where the tutor focuses on one aspect of the texts, talks about what they like and gives advice on how to improve the texts. Tutors do not refer to assessment criteria but draw on the range of ‘tacit knowing’ (Polanyi 1958) that they have developed through their experience of judging student assignments. Sadler (2009) argues, the vast range of knowledge that tutors draw on in making judgements about students’ work cannot be contained within a small set of assessment criteria, so we’ve avoided explicit assessment criteria, preferring to hear tutors talk about what they value in student assignments.
There are also texts and podcasts from employers of Stem graduates, Transport for London (TfL) and Astrium Ltd. The aim is to show the trajectory in writing from school to employment and to provide a resource for teachers and university tutors to help students better understand the demands of writing in these sectors. The texts range form technical leaflets to reports and a conference paper. There are podcast commentaries on the texts, often by the author, explaining how the text was produced.
We’d like to hear your ideas on how you have used the collection in your teaching. Send us an account or a lesson plan and if we post your ideas on the website we’ll send you a £50 voucher. See an account of teaching science writing and accompanying slides here.
To start browsing the collection, go back to the map choose a subject and click on a unit.
Polanyi, M. (1958). Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Sadler, D. R. (2010). Beyond feedback: developing student capability in complex appraisal. Assessment &Evaluation in Higher Education, 35,5, 535 – 550.
Sadler, D. R. (2009). Transforming holistic assessment and grading into a vehicle for complex learning. In G. Joughin (ed.) Assessment, learning and judgement in higher education. Dordrecht: Springer. (pp 45-63)