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?

Grant update

With the end of summer approaching, the Greater Upstate NY IBL consortium is nearing the end of our first period of grant activity. We have significantly broadened our network with nine new mentor-mentee pairings, most of which attended a national summer workshop at either Kenyon College in Ohio or Mathfest in Oregon. With so many of us now writing our own course notes, we are planning a discussion session on the topic at our meeting preceding the MAA Seaway section meeting at Alfred University on October 10th.

We are also in the process of looking for funding sources to continue our activities past the first year. The Educational Advancement Foundation has generously supported our activities in the first year, 2014-15, and has offered partial support in future years. We welcome ideas for support, on the order of $20,000 annually for 2015-16 and 2016-17. We also welcome ideas for broadening our activities.

Patrick Rault, Associate Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Geneseo


IBL Workshop at MAA Seaway Fall Meeting

Those teaching IBL courses now or in the past, or those interested in teaching Inquiry Based Learning courses in the future are encouraged to join us for a workshop on Friday afternoon, October 10, prior to the banquet at the MAA Seaway meeting at Alfred University. The program will begin at 12:00 noon with lunch and will continue with a discussion titled "IBL for All" led by Carol Schumacher of Kenyon College. After a refreshment break and a brief discussion of IBL resources, we'll continue with a workshop on preparing IBL course materials, led by David Clark, professor emeritus at SUNY New Paltz. If you would like to participate in the workshop, kindly indicate your interest by sending an e-mail to by September 25, 2014 so that we can plan our lunch accordingly.

Ryan Gantner, Associate Professor at Saint John Fisher College and Chair Elect of MAA Seaway Section


Special Session on IBL and other events at MAA Seaway

In addition, we are hosting a number of other special IBL events at the upcoming MAA Seaway meeting at Alfred University, October 10-11. As mentioned above, on Friday October 10th we will hold a series of discussions for beginning practitioners and their mentors from noon to 5pm (before the MAA conference begins). These discussions provide a unique opportunity for a midsemester discussion of IBL, immediately following the national summer workshop. Also, during the conference opening banquet on the evening of October 10th, we will continue our discussions at reserved tables. On the morning of October 11th, nationally renowned IBL practitioner Carol Schumacher from Kenyon College, Ohio, will give the Randolph Lecture. In the afternoon, from 1:30 to 4pm, we will be holding a special talk session on IBL.

Patrick Rault, Associate Professor of Mathematics at SUNY Geneseo
Ryan Gantner, Associate Professor at Saint John Fisher College and Chair Elect of MAA Seaway Section


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 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 .

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.