Friday, August 21, 2015

Announcement: $2.8 Million National Science Foundation IUSE Grant (PRODUCT)

I am pleased to officially announce that the National Science Foundation has awarded a $2.8 million grant, called PRODUCT to (a) expand the IBL Workshop professional development network so that more participants can attend an IBL Workshop annually, and (b) offer IBL Workshops or the next five years for 300+ participants.  PRODUCT stands for PROfessional Development and Uptake through Collaborative Teams (PRODUCT): Supporting Inquiry Based Learning in Undergraduate Mathematics.

This is exciting news for us behind the scenes working in higher education reform, and much, much more it's provides further opportunities for faculty to attend IBL Workshops and provide research-validated, student-centered math courses at the undergraduate level.  What this means for the math profession is that we will be able to offer 300+ participants spots at 4-Day IBL Workshops over the next 5 years, and thousands more of students will have opportunities to experience IBL in the future.  Other main activities include developing short workshops for outreach purposes and hosting a professional developers meeting to share knowledge among those working in professional develop in higher education.

One facet of our work is based on ideas similar to those discussed in the book, "Moneyball."  That is, we use data-driven decision making as a core component of our work.  To cut through the fog of "conventional wisdom," "anecdata," and all that to find what is most likely true, our colleagues at CU Boulder's E&ER unit uses evaluation data and research to hone in the key variables to improve our programs.  Then we use a cycle of investigation to revisit ideas and further hone them and adjust.   There's no ideological affiliation.  We look at data, search for facts, create, and push the edges to improve Mathematics Education in the United States. 

I'd like to thank the National Science Foundation for their support and vision, and I would like to thank my collaborators, of which there are many, for their hard efforts over the years to improve mathematics education, who made this next project possible.  I look forward to working on PRODUCT with them, and will be posting information about future workshops on this blog.

Upward and onward!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Decade of IBL Workshops

This past month a team of 41 participants, professional developers, and evaluators converged at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for another IBL Workshop, supported by the National Science Foundation.  This year marks the tenth year, since the first workshops were planned, and hundreds of participants have been implementing IBL, in a variety of forms, to thousands of students.

Attending a workshop is one of the best ways to get going with IBL for math instructors.  Math faculty can work intensely in the summer with experienced IBL Workshop staff,  build courses collaboratively with peers, and take advantage of follow-up support for the following year.  Thereafter, participants can engage ongoing activities and support via the IBL community.  Hence, attending a workshop has many benefits, including higher quality initial implementation of IBL, building connections with other IBLers, and access to the IBL community in the long run.

Interestingly, faculty have targeted a variety of courses.  In the past, the recommendation has been for new IBLers to start their IBL careers in upper-level math courses.   The reason for this is that it is easier to implement IBL in courses, where the students are more mature and there are fewer issues like the coverage issues.  The reasoning is purely based on pragmatic implementation issues, and is still relevant today.  It's relatively easier to implement IBL in upper-level courses, all else equal.  For many, this is not possible or desirable.  As IBL has spread, instructors have been interested in learning to implement IBL in a broader array of courses, including courses for non-math majors.  This makes sense, as some instructors teach at 2-year colleges or have specialized teaching areas. About half of the instructors indicated participants targeting courses for freshmen or sophomores.  Courses participants work on at IBL Workshops include:

  • Math for liberal arts
  • Calculus
  • Precalculus
  • Math for elementary teaching
  • Elementary statistics
  • Lower division Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra (lower division)

IBL is a system for teaching that applies to all levels of Mathematics.  Participants are verifying this by voting with their feet.  Gone are the days of "IBL is for math track students."  Today, IBL has evolved into a broad, flexible framework.   If you are interested in attending an IBL Workshop in the future AND teach college-level Mathematics, more workshops are planned for summer 2016 (pending funding).  Details are forthcoming and will be posted here and sent out via AIBL listservs and the MAA.

Photos from the 2015 IBL Workshop