WAC Highlight: Professors Masuda and Zia

Today’s WAC-friendly highlighted assignment

Professors: Ariane Masuda and Farrukh Zia

Course: MAT 1275/6523 and EMT 1150/9402 Learning Community

Assignment: Visit the Sony Wonder Lab and reflect on math and circuitry

Together, the class visited the Sony Wonder Lab and looked at the various exhibits there.  Beforehand, they had been informed that they would be embarking on a research project related to one of these exhibits, so the students knew that they should be keeping an eye out for things they found particularly interesting and taking notes.

After their visit, the students were asked to do research into the exhibit of their choice, to investigate what the technology in the exhibit was capable of, how it works, and the ways circuitry and mathematics were employed to create it.  Finally, they were asked to write up what they had found as a technical article to be published on Citytech OpenLab web site to encourage fellow students to visit the Sony Lab and learn about technology through the exhibit the student had chosen.

What WAC principle(s) does this assignment exemplify?

This assignment touches on a number of WAC principles:

1)  It got students out of the classroom, investigating sophisticated, exciting applications of their coursework in math and circuitry.

2)  It also contains elements of writing to learn, as the students were encouraged to reflect on the connections between their coursework and the applications they found in the Sony Lab without worrying about getting the answer right.

2)  It encourages the students to write for a particular audience — their peers — in a specific format — a technical article.   This helps clarify the tone and allows students to practice particular kinds of writing.

3)  It was a detailed assignment, in which every step was carefully spelled out and the expectations of the professors were made very clear.

How might this type of assignment be used in other courses across the curriculum?

Assignments like this could be useful in a variety of courses.  Students may at times struggle to see the applications of their course work, leaving them feeling like they are working hard toward an unclear goal.  Connecting students with real applications of their work and encouraging them to reflect on that in written form is great practice.

Moreover, specifying other students as the intended audience — and asking the students in the course to encourage these other students to get out and see real applications of the work they are doing and how exciting they can be — is a great way to get students writing about the important and interesting applications of the courses they are taking.