You’re ready to embrace inquiry-based learning (IBL) in your mathematics for liberal arts (MLA), or other general education courses, with the help of Discovering the Art of Mathematics (DAoM) materials. How do you get started?
Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) is an approach to teaching and learning in which the classroom environment is characterized by the student being the active participant while the teacher’s role is decentralized.
At least once a semester I ask my students to write a journal. My main goal of this assignment is to monitor students’ buy-in into my IBL classroom. How is IBL working for them? What is not working? What could they change to improve their learning? What can I change?
The majority of class time is spent with students actively engaged in process of mathematical inquiry. Written proofs and solutions that describe/document the students' work form a cornerstone of my assessment of their work in this class.
I want my students to learn how to write about their thinking. Therefore, my assignments have to be written in full sentences, explain everything in detail and convey the mathematical concepts. They can also contain the story of how the student discovered the solution, including all struggles and mistakes.
Students are actively engaged in making sense of mathematical investigations, on their own, in their group, and with the entire class. I share some ideas about assessing the students' level of participation in, and contribution to, the work in the class.
For over a decade, I have been asking MLA students to create biographical posters of mathematicians whose important work occurred after the year 1900.
As a result, students see mathematics as an evolving, human subject – one that is undergoing enormous contemporary growth.
For the first day especially, we choose investigations that are easy to understand but deep in content, with multiple entry points. The following problems are a few that we have found to be good starter investigations.
I'm getting ready for the first day of class of the semester, excited to meet a new group of students in my mathematics for liberal arts class. As I'm making decision about my goals, and planning my teacher actions in the classroom, I invite you to come along.
Our students tell us that they do not like mathematics, it feels disconnected from their lives and they do not have high expectations for themselves in this class. These are among the reasons why IBL is perfect for MLA classes.
This semester we are video taping our IBL classes and as I am watching the videos I am reflecting (again) on all the pieces necessary for a productive whole class discussion. My goal for a discussion is to make the “Big Mathematical Ideas” visible by having students construct connections between different solution strategies or attempts.
As I walk around listening to the student groups grappling with making sense of the mathematics on their own, how can I encourage and support their efforts without just giving them "the answers"? How to engage them in mathematical conversations that will make their thinking visible?
We found all positions for two dancers that exhibit both reflectional and 180 degree rotational symmetry. After the students discovered their conjectures, I asked them to prove that their conjectures were correct. This was our first activity of the semester and the students were new to the cycle of exploration - definitions - conjectures - proof.
Asked to determine all possible values generated by the Diophantine equation $3a+5b$ when $a,b ≥ 0$, students discovered their first proofs involving the infinite. The diversity of entirely different proofs was both a challenge to the teacher and a great affirmation of the importance of inquiry-based learning.
Pennies and Paperclips is a beautiful game whose winning strategies students determine inductively and then work to prove. Proof of the winning strategy for Penny is remarkable for its clarity and simplicity. Proof of the winning strategy for Clip seems to be as straightforward but really offers important lessons in what constitutes proof.
In 2012 the Discovering the Art of Mathematics team started reaching out to the two-year colleges. At the NEMATYC conference in 2013 we learned that many faculty are interested in support around algebra related courses.