Inquiry-Based Learning Training

Sustainable Instructor Training for Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) teaching in mathematics is characterized by (1) curricula of open-ended, discovery-based problem sequences and (2) pedagogical techniques that both encourage student collaboration and also support, value, and make visible student thinking. Such teaching has been shown to be very effective for student learning, especially with groups traditionally underrepresented in mathematics ( The goal of this project is to transition, in a sustainable way, several key courses in the mathematics department to IBL teaching, thus increasing enrollments in IBL courses from 400 to over 3600.

The challenge in making this transition is instructor training. Although introductory teacher training has long been an active focus of the department, the effort to increase IBL courses will focus on “advanced” teachers, those with at least a few semesters of teaching under their belt and an active interest in incorporating IBL into their classrooms. More specifically, we will train more instructors in IBL teaching by (1) offering a new, advanced short-course in teaching which goes well beyond the “crash course” all instructors attend in their first year, (2) putting in place structured teaching mentorships which include classroom observations, and (3) running seminars and lunches through the year to support advanced teaching. These mechanisms are intended to be both effective and scalable, allowing us to support more instructors in IBL teaching than we have with previous co-teaching models. Participant experiences in the first 6 months of the program will inform changes in the following months and eventually form the basis for a long-term model for advanced teacher training in IBL teaching that will also include participants from outside of UM.

Project Team

Stephen DeBacker, College of Literature, Science and the Arts

Gavin LaRose, College of Literature, Science and the Arts

Vilma Mesa, School of Education

Ralf Spatzier, College of Literature, Science and the Arts

Alejandro Uribe, College of Literature, Science and the Arts

Nina White, College of Literature, Science and the Arts