Greater Upstate New York Inquiry-Based Learning Consortium

For several years a small group of professors in upstate New York have been meeting informally to share their enthusiasms, frustrations and triumphs related to the use of inquiry based learning in their mathematics classes. We are excited to announce that with generous funding from the Educational Advancement Foundation we are building this community in new and profound ways. Keep reading to find out what's going on and see how you can get involved!

Where are we? What can we offer you?

We are all over the place! There are currently IBL practitioners at the following institutions in the greater upstate New York region:

Specifically, the consortium offers support and mentoring for those new to inquiry based learning and a supportive network for exchange of ideas for both novice and experienced users. For example, for both novice and more experienced users we have funding for a workshop on Friday October 10, 2014, just before the Fall MAA Seaway Section Meeting, in Alfred, NY, including the possibility of travel support. Carol Schumacher (Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio) an expert in the use of IBL, will be at these workshops and will deliver the Randolph Lecture at the Meeting.

 

What is going on in the consortium?

Visit causes contradiction?

Patrick Rault visited my Introduction of Proof class on Sep. 19, 2014. Students presented three tasks on proof by contradiction in a 50-minute class. One of my students was confused about which statement to negate in the beginning of a proof and had trouble deciding at the end what was actually proved. Patrick gave me the following useful advice on this. When one needs to show a theorem of the form P => Q by contradiction, instead of start the proof by saying

"For the sake of proof by contradiction, we assume that P is true and Q is not true",

one should start the proof by saying

"Suppose P is true. For the sake of proof by contradiction, let us assume that Q is not true."

The second version has the advantage that once a contradiction is reached at the end, students can immediately go to the sentence that has the word "contradiction" and be able to say that Q must be true (instead of trying to decide what to do with P).

After discussing my syllabus with Patrick, I also realized that I probably have over-worked my students by assigning too many homework. My students have daily homework, weekly homework, class presentations, portfolio, weekly journal and three exams. This makes me think about my objectives for each assignment and how I can re-design them to reach the same goal.

Xiao Xiao, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Utica College

 

IBL at MAA Seaway Fall Meeting

The following is a detailed account of the IBL activities at the MAA Seaway meeting at Alfred University, October 10-11, 2014.
Event Time Who? Location Description
Mentor Breakfast 8:30am - 9:00am By invitation only Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center Breakfast for the mentors in the UNY.IBL Consortium
Guiding IBL Mentors, led by Carol Schumacher 9:00am - 11:00am, Oct. 10 By invitation only Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center Carol Schumacher will lead a discussion of mentoring practices for those in our Consortium who have been charged with mentoring other IBL practitioners.
Question and Answer session 11:00am - 12:00pm, Oct. 10 By invitation only Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center IBL mentors will share their own questions with each other. Together, we'll try to answer as many as possible!
IBL Lunch 12:00pm - 1:00pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone, please indicate your attendance by e-mailing UNY.IBL@gmail.com Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center We'll have lunch and have informal conversation about how our semesters are going.
IBL for All, led by Carol Schumacher 1:00pm - 2:30pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone, please indicate your attendance by e-mailing UNY.IBL@gmail.com Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center Carol Schumacher will present some of her own IBL background and thoughts: why she thinks it is good pedagogical strategy, how her teaching IBL has developed over time, what goes into making useful IBL materials.
IBL refreshments 2:30pm - 3:00pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone, please indicate your attendance by e-mailing UNY.IBL@gmail.com Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center Break time.
Resources and Claims 3:00pm - 3:30pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone, please indicate your attendance by e-mailing UNY.IBL@gmail.com Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center Various IBL resources will be presented and discussed. These include places for finding materials as well as places for seeking funding.
Prepare your own course notes (then publish them), led by David Clark 3:30pm - 5:00pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone, please indicate your attendance by e-mailing UNY.IBL@gmail.com Abigail Allen Room, Second Floor of the Powell Campus Center David Clark (SUNY New Paltz, emeritus) will lead a workshop about IBL course notes which will include everything from planning to writing to deploying to critiquing to publishing.
MAA Seaway banquet 7:00pm - 8:30pm, Oct. 10 Open to anyone McNamara Room, First Floor of the Powell Campus Center We'll try to sit at the same table(s) during the MAA Seaway banquet to further the IBL discussion flurry.
Randolph Lecture, given by Carol Schumacher 11:10am - 12:00pm, Oct. 11 Open to anyone Holmes Auditorium, Harder Hall Carol Schumacher will deliver the Randolph Lecture, titled What is the Definition of Definition? And other Mathematical Cultural Conundrums
Special talk session on IBL 1:30pm - 4:00pm, Oct. 11 Open to anyone Room 302, Franklin W. Olin Hall There will be six contributed presentations on IBL to finish out a busy MAA Seaway meeting!

 

Dinner Series: Buffalo

On Saturday September 13th, three IBL practitioners gathered in Buffalo for a 3-hour lunch discussion. We discussed strengths in our courses and students, challenges which we've faced and ways to overcome them, and plans for the future.

One highlight was the idea that a lecture-based class usually has a "learning outcome for the class period," whereas in an IBL class we often think in terms of a "learning outcome for the time between class periods." Indeed, in an IBL class we might think of one unit as beginning halfway through a class period and ending halfway through the next class period. This is illustrated as follows.

  Class period 1 Class period 2
Lecture: Begin topic A, end topic A. Begin topic B, end topic B.
IBL: End topic A, begin topic B. End topic B, begin topic C.

For this reason, it often makes more sense for a class observer to visit two classes in a row in order to see the entire progression of the topic. Though this is difficult for out of town visitors, local visitors should be encouraged to observe either two full classes in a row or two half classes in a row (i.e. the end of one class and the start of the next).

Please bring your own thoughts on this, or other IBL topics, to the upcoming MAA Seaway meeting. Or e-mail your own post for this BLOG to Ryan Gantner (for example, we would love to hear from someone about the Kenyon workshop or a mentoring trip). Or tweet using #UNYIBL.

The next planned dinner meeting will take place in Rochester on Tuesday 9/23 at 6:30pm. Contact rault@geneseo.edu if you would like to join us.

Patrick Rault, Associate Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Geneseo

 

Calendar of Events

 

For questions or more information, please send e-mail to UNY.IBL@gmail.com .

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Saint John Fisher College.