Last year, Stan Yoshinobu, Angie Hodge, and I organized a contributed paper session at MathFest titled “Inquiry-Based Learning Best Practices.” Here is the abstract for last summer’s session:

In many mathematics classrooms, doing mathematics means following the rules dictated by the teacher and knowing mathematics means remembering and applying these rules. However, an inquiry-based learning (IBL) approach challenges students to create/discover mathematics.

Boiled down to its essence, IBL is a method of teaching that engages students in sense-making activities. Students are given tasks requiring them to conjecture, experiment, explore, and solve problems. Rather than showing facts or a clear, smooth path to a solution, the instructor guides students via well-crafted problems through an adventure in mathematical discovery.

The talks in this session will focus on IBL best practices. We seek both novel ideas and effective approaches to IBL. Claims made should be supported by data (test scores, survey results, etc.) or anecdotal evidence. This session will be of interest to instructors new to IBL, as well as seasoned practitioners looking for new ideas.

In my opinion, the session was a huge success! We had a total of 22 talks covering a variety of IBL-related topics, which was almost twice as many as any other session. In fact, we had so many speakers, we had to split the session into three sub-sessions over two days. Moreover, most of the talks had a packed audience.

A few weeks ago, we submitted an abstract to the MAA to organize a similar session and we recently found out that our proposal was accepted. Yay! We’ll be soliciting abstracts for talks soon. If you are interested in giving a talk, please contact me or one of the other organizers.

MathFest 2013 takes place on August 1-3, 2013 in Hartford, CT. Mark your calendars!


Dana C. Ernst

Mathematics & Teaching

  Northern Arizona University
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