The Academy of Inquiry Based Learning (AIBL) awarded Loras College Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Dr. Susan Crook, a $2,500 grant for mathematics education. The money will go toward developing an interactive Calculus I course that will help engage students and encourage critical thinking skills.
Through the generosity of AIBL, the College can address a trend within the mathematics higher education field. Research has shown that students can become frustrated with introductory Calculus courses that do not offer hands-on activities. Consequently, many students do not pursue more advanced mathematic courses.
The AIBL grant will allow Dr. Crook the ability to develop interactive materials for her course. With many of the students in Calculus I classes being first year students, engaging them at this level will increase the number who go on to higher level mathematics courses.
"I am excited to have the opportunity to increase the amount of active learning that I use in my Calculus I class. I hope to be able to show students how real mathematicians think and work. By helping them develop the concepts and ideas on their own, the students will feel a stronger ownership and connection to the content which increases their curiosity," said Dr. Crook.
Not only will the outcomes of this grant strengthen the Loras College Mathematics area, it also will help prepare students to meet employment needs within the economy. To remain a global economic force, it is critical that the U.S. maintain and grow its STEM workforce. The largest portion of needed STEM professionals nationwide will occur in Computer Science (71%), Engineering (16%), and the Physical Sciences (7%), all of which require higher level math skills. The projected needs within the state of Iowa by 2018 are 72,000 STEM jobs (STEM, 2012). As the economy continues to recover, this number will continue to grow. Large sectors of the Iowa economy are the biosciences and financial services, which require a large number of STEM workers with necessary upper level mathematics education.
The AIBL is a national community of instructors, teachers, and supporters of inquiry-based learning, supporting the use of a wide range of teaching methods in mathematics consistent with courses where students are (a) deeply engaged in rich mathematical tasks, and (b) have ample opportunities to collaborate with peers.