IBL Community Challenges:

The Next 20 Years

Photo Credit: Retrieved from www.NASA.gov

Photo Credit: Retrieved from www.NASA.gov


"Moonshot" Challenges for the Next 20 Years 

At MathFest 2017, AIBL Director Stan Yoshinobu unveiled a list of some "moonshot" challenges for the IBL community. Some of our major challenges are listed below. The text of his talk is listed HERE on the IBL blog. 

To the IBL community:  Contained in this page is a call to action. Please join us in our efforts to address some of the major challenges. Go HERE to sign up to join the effort.

1. Establish IBL Professional Developer Centers Across the Nation
This idea is based on the MSRI model.  The focus instead is on professional development in IBL and active learning. Professional development is one of the main ways for math instructors to learn the skills and practices needed to be effective IBL instructors.  We need dedicated PD centers, embedded at institutions of higher education, strategically spread across the nation, where access to high quality professional development is available throughout the year, centered on real-world useful skills and practices.

PD centers should have full-time staff, who can continue to improve and expand professional development opportunities and assets that are relevant to their regions. Regional centers are necessary to address the diversity landscape of teaching and geographic size and population scale in the United States.

For more information about PD Centers, click on this Link to an IBL Blog Post.

2a. Increasing use of IBL methods to more than 50% of postsecondary mathematics courses
The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences published an Active Learning statement (see it HERE), urging our profession "to invest time and resources to ensure that effective active learning is incorporated into post-secondary mathematics classrooms."

The IBL community is well-positioned to help make this happen. Our goal is to move past the 50% mark, the percentage of post-secondary math courses taught using IBL methods.  

2b. "IBL versions" of Calculus are the most common form of Calculus
By "IBL versions" it is meant that IBL teaching methods are used in the courses regularly.  We are not necessarily suggesting changes to textbooks. There exist strategies that can be adapted to a wide variety of situations, including those with relatively little instructor freedom.  The IBL framework can be broadly adapted across a wide spectrum of situations, and it's the teaching methodology that should become predominant in calculus, as it can address learning and equity issues (see below).

3a. Expand the IBL community
This goal is to expand the IBL community (at the college level) by at least two orders of magnitude.  This could be started via multiple methods including but not limited to developing IBL consortia, expanding enrollment in IBL Workshops, widespread availability of AIBL Small Grants, and steady outreach efforts to work with our colleagues in the AMS, MAA, AMATYC, SIAM, ASA, NCTM, NAM, AWM, AIM, the flipped-classroom community, POGIL, Inquiry-Oriented Learning, and others.

We embrace "Big Tent" IBL!  Outreach efforts, especially community-based efforts like IBL Consortia offer pathways for expanding the IBL community.

3b. Become a partner in efforts to reform and improve K-12 Math Education
AIBL's focus is post-secondary mathematics, and this primary focus will be maintained for years to come. Nevertheless, our work is connected to K-12 math education reform, and it is vital for us to continue to build relationships with our colleagues in K-12 math teaching. The IBL community has a direct connection to K-12 math teaching via courses for future teachers, our involvement in K-12 professional development, and our shared goal of student success. These pathways can open doors for stronger ties, partnerships, and collaborative endeavors, where we join forces, with open minds and humility, with our colleagues who teach math in K-12 settings.

4. Inclusivity 
Women and minorities are much more likely to leave the STEM pipeline, and women and minorities are not participating in STEM fields and careers at levels proportional their representation in society.  Research evidence suggests that the IBL framework can help minimize these gaps. Although changing classroom instruction is not enough to address equity and inclusivity, a good course is, for many, the first and perhaps only opportunity for underrepresented students to learn that they can really be successful students. Additionally, few policy changes or potential opportunities can offset the negative affects of poor teaching. Hence, uptake of IBL methods, especially in underrepresented groups is a critical factor in inclusivity.

Through IBL methods, policy changes, and expanding opportunities, our goal is to make significant progress in the next 20 years, establishing and maintaining a level playing field for women and underrepresented minorities, and ideally eliminating the gender and minority gap.

5. Address Math Anxiety, Promote Growth Mindsets
Math anxiety is rooted in fixed mindsets, teacher-centered instruction, rote-based skills curricula, and other cultural factors. The following quotes should become a thing of the past, "I hate math..." and "I am not a math person..."  

Teaching growth mindsets, and de-stigmatizing mistakes are two components that can be incorporated in IBL courses. Hence, spreading IBL and specifically incorporating activities, curricula, and assignments on growth mindsets can make an impact on widespread math anxiety.

We can do something about math anxiety via good IBL teaching!

6. Informing the general public about IBL
Without support from the public, any movement will run into limits and perhaps fade or fizzle out.  It is the IBL community's role to educate not just colleagues, but also the general public about what IBL is, how it helps students, and why it's important for everyone to care about uptake of IBL methods in math classes (at all levels). Currently, major efforts to educate the public specifically about IBL do not exist.

7. Other Challenges
This list of a subset of the major challenges for the IBL community is a starting point.  Other challenges exist and are important, and just because something is not listed here does not mean that it is not a worthy issue.  This section is a call to those who want to add other topics, challenges, sub-challenges, etc. to join the discussion. We welcome your input and your voice!

Sign Up for the IBL Community Challenges Group
After you sign up, your email will be added to an email list, and this group will start to discuss issues and form working groups.

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Donate to AIBL

Your dollars can make a difference! Please donate or get others to donate to AIBL to support the AIBL Small Grants and Workshop efforts. Funds are needed to provide faculty with small grants for faculty new to IBL, and to offer IBL workshops in addition to the ones funded by National Science Foundation award.

Contact the AIBL Administrative Assistant, Ms. Kahle (kkahle@calpoly.edu) for details about how to donate.