Writing Across Engineering and Science (WAES) is a program that supports STEM faculty as they learn, incorporate, and adapt pedagogies and practices from writing studies research in ways that enrich both their technical learning objectives and their students’ communication skills.
The WAES program grew out of a needs analysis conducted in the Grainger College of Engineering in 2016-2017. While faculty, alumni, and employers indicated that writing was an important part of the practice of engineering, survey results suggested that effective practices from writing studies were not widely known or applied, that the genres students were asked to write did not reflect the variety of anticipated workplace genres, and that writing instruction was most often situated at the beginning and end of the curricula. For a more complete description of our needs analysis, see Yoritomo et al. (2018) and Gallagher et al. (2020).
WAES includes a semester-long faculty learning community and individualized mentoring as STEM faculty incorporate new writing pedagogies. It was created and continues to be guided by a transdisciplinary team of faculty, academic professionals, and graduate students spanning science, engineering, writing studies, and technical communication. Our approach applies a transdisciplinary action research framework, integrating intervention and assessment in an iterative cycle.
In 2020, the WAES team was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the research project Advancing Adaptation of Writing Pedagogies for Undergraduate STEM Education Through Transdisciplinary Action Research, which focuses on integrating and studying writing pedagogy in STEM courses across the university.