Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CBMS Statement on Active Learning

Okay, this is a really big deal.  The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences has weighed in. CBMS supports active learning (CBMS Active Learning Statement)!

Just to be clear, this isn't one or two professors clicking a like button on social media. Let's take a look at the CBMS member societies:

  • AMATYC, American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges
  • AMS, American Mathematical Society
  • AMTE, Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators
  • ASA, American Statistical Association
  • ASL, Association for Symbolic Logic
  • AWM, Association for Women in Mathematics
  • ASSM, Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics
  • BBA, Benjamin Banneker Association
  • IMS, Institute of Mathematical Statistics
  • INFORMS, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
  • MAA, Mathematical Association of America
  • NAM, National Association of Mathematicians
  • NCSM, National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics
  • NCTM, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • SIAM, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  • SOA, Society of Actuaries
  • TODOS, TODOS: Mathematics for ALL

These are the main players in college-level mathematics (and PreK-12 mathematics).  They have all signed on to supporting active learning, because "A wealth of research has provided clear evidence that active
learning results in better student performance and retention than more traditional, passive forms of instruction alone. "

The statement goes on to say in bold, "...we call on institutions of higher education, mathematics departments and the mathematics faculty, public policy-makers, and funding agencies to invest time and resources to ensure that effective active learning is incorporated into post-secondary mathematics classrooms."

It needs to be stressed, that active learning and IBL are not fads or fashion statements. These are methods that have been developed over long time periods. Certainly it takes much more work and energy to successfully teach via active learning (e.g. IBL), and for people like me it's not worth it, if it doesn't work.  I have better things to do with my time than just do things for stylistic reasons in my classes.  But we have a lot more evidence now that students learn better, retain more, and inequities like gender bias can be mitigated via active learning strategies.

If you have not done so yet, I encourage you to take a step towards actively engaging your students!