Coon/Birken Photo

Innovative Course Development at Rochester Institute of Technology



During our twenty-five year collaboration at RIT, we developed and team-taught several workshops and courses. These courses drew students from all RIT majors, from computer science and engineering, to photography, communication, and design.

  • Parallel Courses in English Composition and Mathematics Seminar: Learning Community model for first-year math majors
  • Patterns in Poetry and Mathematics: Upper level course offered for both mathematics and literature credit
    This team-taught course, originally called Analogy, Mathematics, and Poetry, and highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, was offered by the College of Liberal Arts & the College of Science at RIT. Readings included primary texts from both fields; works discussing math and poetry in relation to one another; and contemporary interdisciplinary research. We introduced basic patterns and then studied sequences and repetition, proof and contradiction. Special focus areas: the role of analogy in expression and discovery; the tension between creativity and closed form; fractals in geometry and poetry; and infinity, as understood and represented by poets and mathematicians.

Common Themes:

  • Patterns of shape, form, and ideas, especially in mathematics and poetry
  • Impact of technology on creativity
  • Role of analogy in teaching, learning, discovery, and creative expression
  • Connections betwen art, science, engineering, and the humanities

Curricular Features:

  • Cross-disciplinary readings in humanities and science
  • Student-designed interdisciplinary research

  • Problem solving and critical inquiry
  • Creative Writing outside the English class
  • Innovative team-based projects
  • Formal debates


        Copyright Marcia Birken and Anne C. Coon, 2009 ©
Rochester, NY