|Photo credit Stan Yoshinobu|
It is a shame that so many students never get their hands dirty working with math, but rather most view mathematics as an adversary. A simple measure of this is to ask them “When was the last time math really made sense?” Even good students may have progressed without making sense of any of the ideas that make math so interesting to us. They have had excellent training in finding answers, when faculty think they should have been sense-making instead.
|Photo credit Stan Yoshinobu|
For the last 10 years, the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning has run a workshop to aid mathematics educators in implementing inquiry based learning (IBL). This summer, about 40 faculty, including all three authors, attended a four day workshop in beautiful San Luis Obispo. At the workshop, we worked with experienced faculty to develop materials, and individualized approaches to implementing IBL in our classrooms. This was an immersive experience into the practice and methods of “big tent IBL”, which is a broad and inclusive version of this active learning philosophy. IBL is being implemented in all manner of classes, not just upper level proof-based mathematics courses. In fact, the largest groups of people at the workshop were working on implementing IBL into the sequence of mathematics classes for elementary education majors and intermediate and college algebra.
The four day workshop also introduced us to the community of faculty across the country that want nothing more than to help others get the most out of the time spent with their students. It was just enough time to get energized and get to know a lot of great people, as well start thinking about the myriad of ways to implement IBL. Unfortunately, this was not nearly enough time to fully figure out how we would carry out these ideas in our upcoming classes. The workshop wisely includes a year of follow up mentoring with the organizers. As a way to expand on these mentoring conversations, several of us decided to write about our early experiences at A Novice IBL Blog. Already, blogging has been a wonderful reflective exercise in connecting what we are trying in the classroom to the changes we want for students. Writing posts provides an opportunity to struggle with new pedagogical tools, and learn how to effectively communicate in a new forum. This struggle has helped us each appreciate the difficulties that our students face when grappling with new material.
Blogging has also helped us appreciate how difficult it can be to do new things. Especially when the new thing is a fundamental change in how you approach your job. Just as when our students are learning, it’s important to have many voices for ideas and support. Our blog is about support, not just for its authors, but for anyone trying IBL or anything new in the classroom (and not just at the post-secondary level). So, come visit our blog, participate in the discussions and learn about inquiry based learning along with us.
-Liza Cope, David Failing, and Nick Long
Liza Cope is an Assistant Professor at Delta State University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Failing is an Assistant Professor at Quincy University and can be contacted at email@example.com.
Nick Long is an Associate Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.