Lily An and Tori Lewis
Gabriel Feinberg and Fabiana Cardetti
This group conducted a research study to create resources to support both instructors and students transition into an Inquiry-based learning (IBL) course. The IBL approach has been shown to deepen student conceptual learning and increase student engagement and motivation in a subject without taking away from procedural understanding. The experiences in an IBL class are significantly different from traditional courses; however, there are few research-based resources to aid instructors and college students adapt to this approach. For this project, the creation of such resources was guided by extensive review of the literature as well as informed by experienced instructors teaching undergraduate mathematics courses and students who had positive and negative experiences in IBL courses. These methods along with the group’s experiences and expertise as instructors and undergraduate students of mathematics helped determine specific aspects that would be most challenging for an instructor, as well as the difficulties students would face, in the transition to an IBL course. The results of this study include a teacher’s and a student’s guide that address those difficulties, provide guidance for each audience, and contribute suggestions to achieve the desired learning outcomes of an IBL course. Lily An presented results at the Women in Mathematics in New England Conference (WIMIN13) on September 21 at Smith College.
Resources for Teachers and Students Transitioning Into an IBL Mathematics Course
Nicole DeMatteo and Jonathan Dollar
Gabriel Feinberg and Fabiana Cardetti
In the summer of 2012, the UConn Math Education REU team identified parameterization of curves as a challenging topic for students in multivariable calculus courses. Encouraged by the positive research results of inquiry-based learning (IBL) on student performance and attitudes, the research focus for the group in 2013 was to develop IBL curricular materials aimed at supporting student’s understanding of this topic. The group conducted an extensive literature review, studied popular multivariable calculus textbooks, and consulted with experienced instructors to create an original IBL module. The module engages students in collaborative discovery to gain a deep conceptual understanding of parameterization in addition to providing opportunities for procedural practice. In addition, the group developed a detailed guide to support instructors in the effective classroom implementation of the module.
An Inquiry-Based Approach to Teaching Parameterization
Cathy Matta, Gabriel Feinberg, and Fabiana Cardetti
This pilot study used student perceptions about their understanding of mathematics to guide the development of learning aids for multivariable calculus classes. Studies on the use of computer technology in advanced mathematics classrooms have shown that technology can help with the understanding of abstract concepts (Godaszi, Elahe Aminifar, & Bakhshalizadeh, 2009; Verner, Aroshas, & Berman, 2008). In addition, other researchers have found that using real-world applications and Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) projects can also help students not only with their learning but also with their enjoyment of mathematics (Hassi & Laursen, 2009; Spronken-Smith, Walker, Batchelor, O’Steen, & Angelo, 2012; Stillman, Galbraith, Brown, Edwards, 2007). In this study, these approaches were used in conjunction with students’ perceptions (Pierce, Stacey, & Barkatsas, 2007; Schoenfeld, 1989; Szydlik, 2000) to develop learning aids for multivariable calculus.
Exploring Learning Difficulties in Multivariable Calculus
Participating Schools: Amherst, Colgate, Smith, UConn, UMass, Williams
(photo courtesy Megan Brunner)