Active learning is all the rage these days, and with good reason. As teachers embrace active learning, students are building problem solving skills that promote analysis and evaluation of the content they are given in the classroom. Read on to learn how active learning can give your teaching style a makeover.
Active learning has been gaining traction over the past few years, aided in part by public approval from several entities, including the 15-member society presidents of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences in 2016. Active learning comes in several shapes and sizes, and inquiry-based learning (IBL) is just one of many forms. In particular, the IBL community has grown up to be very active and supportive in the past few decades. Loosely speaking, IBL is a pedagogical framework characterized by two essential principles:
- students deeply engage in meaningful problems, and
- students collaboratively process ideas.
Here I have summarized a few resources for learning more about IBL and active learning, and how to get started. This list is certainly not exhaustive and is not intended to be a "how-to guide.”
Workshops and conferences
- Head to Chicago for MAA MathFest in July and attend a number of sessions dedicated to active learning and/or IBL.
- Inquiry-Based Learning Conference: As the name implies, this annual summer conference is devoted to IBL. It's also my favorite conference. It's inspiring to be surrounded by so many educators that are devoted to engaging and empowering students. The conference is also run in conjunction with MAA MathFest, so participants can get even more out of this double meeting.
- IBL Workshops: The NSF-sponsored IBL Workshops are practical, hands-on, and interactive workshops for college math instructors interested in teaching via IBL or hybrid IBL. There are three workshops offered during the summer of 2017:
- DePaul University, Chicago Illinois: June 20-23, 2017
- Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, California: June 27-30, 2017
- Nazareth College, Upstate New York: July 18-21, 2017
- There are a variety of MAA textbooks that are designed for an active learning approach, for example:
- Number Theory Through Inquiry, David C. Marshall, Edward Odell, and Michael Starbird
- Distilling Ideas: An Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, Brian P. Katz and Michael Starbird
- Beyond Lecture: Resources and Pedagogical Techniques for Enhancing the Teaching of Proof-Writing Across the Curriculum, Rachel Schwell, Aliza Steurer, and Jennifer F. Vasquez (editors). While not a textbook, this book describes pedagogical techniques in proof-based courses that extend beyond standard lecture.
- Journal of Inquiry-Based Learning in Mathematics: JIBLM publishes course materials that are designed to be used in courses that utilize IBL. All of the materials are professionally refereed, classroom-tested, and free to download. Materials are available for a wide variety of courses, from calculus through proof-based courses.
- Discovering the Art of Mathematics: The DAoM library includes 11 inquiry-based books freely available for classroom use. These texts can be used as semester-long content for themed courses (e.g. geometry, music and dance, the infinite, games and puzzles), or individual chapters can be used as modules to supplement typical topics with classroom tested, inquiry-based approaches.
- Math Ed Matters: This MAA-sponsored column explores topics and current events related to undergraduate mathematics education. Posts will aim to inspire, provoke deep thought, and provide ideas for the mathematics—and mathematics education—classroom. Most of the posts address IBL in some way.
- IBL SIGMAA: There is a newly-formed Special Interest Group of the MAA (SIGMAA) devoted to IBL.
- The IBL Blog by Stan Yoshinobu (Cal Poly): This blog focuses on promoting the use of IBL methods in the classroom at the college, secondary and elementary school levels.
- #mathchat: This is active Twitter hashtag that is used by teachers, educators, students, or anyone else interested in math and math education to highlight conversations related to math education.
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