Friday, June 3, 2011

Legacy Conference - Day 2

I spent the first hour of the morning with my co-author, Matt Leingang, trying to get a math ed paper ready for resubmission to the Journal of STEM Education, only to find out that the paper needs to be submitted in APA style. We had written the paper in LaTeX. What I had hoped to be a 15 minute job, will probably turn into a half day chore.

Judy Holdener, Kenyon College - To understand is to invent: empowering students with technology

Abstract: As teachers of mathematics, we strive to get our students to move beyond the surface knowledge of our discipline and to delve deeply into the creative process of mathematics. Our students are not vessels to be filled with facts, but rather active problem-solvers who learn by exploring, manipulating, experimenting, questioning, and searching out answers for themselves. Activity is essential. In this talk I will present concrete ways in which I have used technology as a vehicle for such activity. In doing so, I will reveal my own views relating to the creative process of mathematics – views that place a large weight on the importance of mental imagery, playful experimentation, and lateral thinking in mathematics.

Comments: Great talk. Lot's of good examples integrating Gap and IBL. I wonder if she has thought of using Sage.

Five Minute Talks

Decided to take a pass on the five minute talks this year.

Eric Hsu, San Francisco State University - Making Practice Visible: The Emerging Scholars Program and IBL

Abstract: The Emerging Scholars Program is an intensive non-remedial mathematics program which focuses particular attention on increasing success of underrepresented minorities. This model was created 35 years ago, and has been adopted by over a hundred colleges around the U.S. At the heart of the model is a multicultural workshop where students solve problems in groups and individually. We discuss how the role of IBL evolved in a natural way in response to ethnographic research into differences in student academic culture as well as the practical needs of the program.

Comments and Questions: Great talk. The slides are supposed to be available online (eventually).

  • Emerging Scholars Programs have been tremendously successful. If you don't have one at your institution (SFA doesn't), you should definitely consider starting one.

  • What is the bottleneck course for under-represented minorities wanting to study science and mathematics at SFA? Since Emerging Scholars programs focus on non-remedial courses, which rules out MTH 098 and 099. If SFA were to start an Emerging Scholars Program, possible candidate courses might be College Algebra, Precalculus, and Calculus I.

  • Shell Centre publication, The Language of Functions and Graphs, would be a great source of problems ( This is where I first saw the flag raising problem.

Jacqueline Jensen, Slippery Rock Univ. and Ron Taylor, Berry College - Assessment in an IBL Classroom

How one person's abilities compare in quantity with those of another is none of the teacher's business. It is irrelevant to his work. What is required is that every individual shall have opportunities to employ his own powers in activities that have meaning. Mind, individual method, originality (these are convertible terms) signify the quality of purposive or directed action. - John Dewey from Democracy and Education
In the context of Dewey's quote, it seems that the use of inquiry can facilitate giving each student the opportunity to “employ his own powers in activities that have meaning" toward the goal of learning. In this presentation we propose some answers to the following questions:

  1. Does assessment in an IBL classroom differ from assessment in a lecture style classroom? -

  2. If there is a difference, does it necessarily imply the need for different types of assessment techniques? -or-

  3. Can traditional assessment techniques be used as-is in an IBL classroom? -or-

  4. Can traditional assessment techniques be modified to better serve students in an IBL classroom?

  5. What new assessment techniques can be devised to serve students in an IBL classroom so that their learning in the context of their own meaningful activities is revealed?

Comments: Really didn't have anything.

Angie Hodge, NDSU and Judith Covington, LSU-Shreveport. Math Teachers' Circles: Why, What, When and Where?

Abstract: Math Teachers’ Circles are a form of professional development that uses inquiry-based learning techniques to help practicing teachers improve their mathematical knowledge through content rich problem solving. Collaborations are made between university faculty, middle school teachers, and K-12 administrators to create a learning community. These sessions are held to give the middle school teachers a chance to learn mathematics and solve problems for their own enjoyment. Emerging research on Math Teachers’ Circles indicates that they are successful in increasing teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching, and that participating teachers report increases in their confidence, interest in mathematics, and use of problem solving in their classrooms. In this session, we will briefly discuss how we began our Math Teacher’s Circles. We will focus on the connection between inquiry-based learning and Math Teachers’ Circles. Specific examples will be provided, including an interactive problem solving session, to help attendees get a feel for the power of this inquiry-based professional development experience.


  • The Math Teachers's Circle website at AIM ( is a useful source of information.

  • This is something that we could do at SFA either in connection with the Leadership and LIMIT groups or by writing another grant. We have local expertise available (Judith Covington, LSU-Shreveport) and could recruit teachers locally and at regional meetings.

Breakout Session

  • Maryland Suites – General Contributed Paper Session

  • Virginia A – Assessment and IBL

  • Virginia B – Technology and IBL

  • Virginia C – Math Circles and IBL

  • Nathan Hale – Emerging Scholars Programs and IBL

I went to Matthew Leingang's talk on using social media.

Chris Good, Chris Sangwin and Matthew Badger, University of Birmingham, UK. The Moore Method in the UK: IBL at Birmingham

Abstract: In 2004, with generous support from the EAF, Dr Chris Good set up a Moore Method course for the first time at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom (UK). The course is an optional module, of 27 contact hours over one semester for mathematics major students in their first year of university. Since 2004 it has been taught by three different members of staff with a variety of problem sets. In this talk we will set the scene for university teaching in the United Kingdom, and specifically at the University of Birmingham. We will describe our goals for the course, and our experiences of teaching this module. Matthew Badger has undertaken an evaluation of the outcomes of this course, including a quantitative analysis of students' progress and a qualitative study of their attitudes and experiences of the course. We will report our results. Lastly we will comment on the use of Moore Method courses, and problem solving in university mathematics, at other United Kingdom Universities.
Comments: Good overview of how the English university system works as far as students enrolled in a bachelor's degree in mathematics program. Teaching IBL courses can be a problem since many courses have a 200+ enrollment.

Panel Discussion – What Resources are Available to Me?

AIBL and Visiting Speakers’ Bureau – Stan Yoshinobu and Mark JIBLM and the Geometry Project – David Clark

The URL for The Academy of Inquiry-Based Learning is ( Note:The small grant program has been cancelled for this summer cycle due to funding issues. Applications are being accepted for next summer.


  1. Hi Tom,

    I really appreciate these summaries---thanks. I wish I were there.

  2. FYI - Judith has agreed to speak in SFA's colloquium in the fall. - Jane