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.

WAC examples on the OpenLab

There have been so many great assignments posted on the OpenLab, and since the course privacy settings are set to public, we can browse through and share them. These are some that make good use of media, either through links or by embedding it directly in the site.

Art History (Humanities)

Sandra Cheng, ARTH 1103: Posting with art images: Prof. Cheng includes images of the artwork the class will discuss and elicits comments from students.

Sandra Cheng, ARTH 1100: Students posting with photographs: Here, students are writing posts and including photographs by the photographers they are studying.


Jody R. Rosen, ENG 1101: Responding to two versions of an image: I used to distribute copies in class, but I like how I can keep within copyright and still have students write about Saul Steinberg’s famous New Yorker cover and their own view of New York. I wish I could embed the images in the post, but that, too, would violate copyright.

Hospitality Management

Karen Goodlad, HMGT 1101: Tourism Video: Students imagined they were the concierge of a new hotel near Brooklyn Bridge Park and created videos to show guests some of the great features of the area.

John Akana, HMGT 1102: New York Times Dining and Wine RSS Feed: Students can follow along with current articles in their subject through the feed on the right-hand side of the site.


Jonas Reitz, Math 1275: Mathematical Treasure Hunt: Students were asked to find instances of particular terms they studied in class, such as parallel and perpendicular lines, parabolas, or repeating patterns. They had to post an image of each and explain what the image represented.

Jonas Reitz, Math 1575: Infinity: Students reflected on their earliest encounter with the concept of infinity, defined it in their own words, and included a photograph or image that represented the concept.

Jonas Reitz, Math 1575: LaTeX: Students used the LaTeX plug-in and coded sequences to create beautiful mathematical problems. They could solve each others’ problems for extra credit. They offered advice to classmates unable to get their problems to appear properly.

Speech (Humanities)

Justin Davis, Speech 1330: Evaluating Speech Competition: Students watch uploaded videos to rank contestants, and then write briefly about the strengths and weaknesses of each speaker–which was done off-line in class.