Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 91–100

The common denominators: A collaborative approach to teaching reasoning skills through literature and mathematics

  • Anne C. Coon
  • Marcia Birken


At a highly technical institution, this interdisciplinary problem-solving course was designed for students who had been placed on probation or suspended. Two professors, with divergent backgrounds in mathematics and literature, collaborated in the research, planning and teaching. The course stresses the cross-disciplinary applications of “tools” such as analogy, using a variety of assignments in mathematics, logic and literature. The importance of both “ill-structured” and “well-structured problems” is discussed, as is the rationale for including oral presentations, group problems, and a formal debate in the curriculum. The article emphasizes the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration for studentsand faculty, as it presents an approach to teaching reasoning skills that could be applied to a variety of academic settings.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne C. Coon
    • 1
  • Marcia Birken
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.The State University of New York at BuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Mount Holyoke CollegeUSA
  3. 3.Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical SciencesNew York UniversityUSA

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