MD-DC-VA IBL Consortium

About the COnsortium:

At the 2016 Joint Meetings, some of the organizers of the Upstate New York IBL Consortium gave a talk about their organization and benefits of having a community of IBL practitioners to lean on for resources, mentoring, and support.  In the audience were several members of the MD-DC-VA Section of the MAA.  We decided to start a similar group with the aim of supporting IBL in our MAA Section.

We have run IBL-related events at our Section meetings and have formed an email list (via Google Groups) to announce upcoming events and provide access to our growing community of IBL practitioners.  If you are interested in joining that email list, please go to our Google Group page and join.  (You can join the list without a Google account using whatever email address you like.)

UPCOming events:

  • On Friday, November 8th, 2019, as part of the MAA section meeting, we will be holding a free workshop and community planning event at Norfolk State University.

    • For meeting info and registration:

    • Friday workshop: Building on Strengths, and Building our Community of Inquiry-Based Learning and Teaching

    • Abstract: In inquiry-based learning and other forms of active learning, instructors get a chance to see student work in progress, ask questions, and give feedback. Many instructors have a lot of practice looking at student work from a deficit perspective: what did the student do wrong? How can I help them correct their misconceptions? (Or, how many points should I take off?) In the first hour of this workshop, we will practice looking at student work from an asset model instead: What does the student know? What can the student do? How can I help them build on that? How can the rest of the class use these ideas and insights? We will look at some interesting examples of student work, and discuss various ways of responding and building on its strengths.

The second hour of this workshop will be devoted to brainstorming and planning activities and events for the Maryland-DC-Virginia Inquiry-Based Learning Consortium. Thanks to a new NSF grant, we have an opportunity to increase our level of peer collaboration activity and support. Some possibilities include classroom observations, small group collaboration on course materials, lesson study, reading groups, etc. What would you like to be involved in? What topics would you like to see addressed in future workshops? We invite everyone who is even a little bit interested to join us and help us plan for the future.

  • Biographical Sketch: The Maryland-DC-Virginia IBL Consortium was formed in early 2016 as a network of college math instructors with a common interest in inquiry-based learning and teaching. Since then the consortium has organized workshops, panel discussions, and swap sessions at meetings of the MD-DC-VA Section of the MAA, as well as a standalone workshop. We use the term "IBL" broadly, to include ambitious teaching, project-based learning, complex instruction, inquiry-oriented learning, discovery learning, and student-centered teaching. We recognize that IBL can look very different in different contexts, and view our role as supporting instructors in the version that works for them and their students. We welcome those who are new to IBL as well as those who are more experienced. We maintain a website and a Google Group email list; please join us!

Past Events:

  • Spring 2018 MD-DC-VA Section Meeting, Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute on April 13-14, 2018.

    • We are very lucky to have MIchael Starbird, from the University of Texas at Austin visiting us!  He will be giving a workshop on Friday afternoon, titled "Inquiry Based Learning: Math and Beyond."  He will also be giving an invited address on Saturday, titled "Effective thinking through mathematics."

    • IBL Chat (for current users of Inquiry-Based Learning and related pedagogies)  Saturday morning

      How are things going in your classes? What issues are coming up? What successes would you like to share? This session is intended as a chance for us to connect with each other and share ideas.

    • IBL Activity Swap  Saturday morning

      One of the biggest hurdles instructors face when thinking of adopting Inquiry-Based Learning is finding good
      materials. Many instructors end up writing their own. If you've written an activity that you like and are willing to share, we encourage you to bring copies! We will share some of our own favorites, and suggestions for where to find more.

    • Inquiry-Based Learning Q&A (for those new to IBL, or just curious about it)  Saturday afternoon

      How does it work? How do you assign grades? What do you do if...? Bring your questions, and we will have a panel of experienced IBL instructors share their answers.

  • On November 3rd and 4th 2017, the U.S. Naval Academy hosted a workshop on inquiry-based learning in mathematics.  

    The presenters were:

    Mairead Greene (Rockhurst University)

    Christine von Renesse (Westfield State University)

    Workshop website:

    For more information, contact Amy Ksir at

  • Spring 2017 MD-DC-VA Section Meeting, Frostburg State University, April 28-29 2017:
    Workshop: How to use as much inquiry as you're comfortable with in your calculus class
    (Organizers: Cassie Williams (JMU), Amy Ksir (USNA), and Mitch Keller (Washington & Lee))

    Abstract: Using inquiry in the mathematics classroom has gained popularity in recent years, and has been persistently supported by education research. Across the United States, the amount of inquiry being used in calculus courses varies widely, from occasional activities to fully IBL courses. Wherever you currently are on this spectrum, this workshop is designed to help you successfully move up a notch, and incorporate an amount of inquiry that you are comfortable with. In this workshop, we will discuss a variety of ways to effectively include inquiry in any calculus class. Whether you're looking to include occasional activities, regular tasks, or change your entire course structure, we have ideas (and materials) for you!

  • Fall 2016 MD-DC-VA Section Meeting, Johns Hopkins University, Nov 4-5 2016:
    Themed Contributed Paper Session on IBL in our Section
    (Organizers: Amy Ksir (USNA) and Cassie Williams (JMU))

    We are soliciting speakers for a paper session about IBL. If you're interested in contributing a talk to this session, submit an abstract to the meeting (, and then email the organizers (Amy Ksir - ksir AT usna DOT edu and/or Cassie Williams - willi5cl AT jmu DOT edu) with your title and abstract. The complete Call for Papers is below.

    **Please note that we will only have room for about seven talks in our session. If we receive more than seven abstracts, then we will choose a subset of talks which attempts to maximize the variety of IBL topics. The other abstracts will still be submitted to the conference.**

    Call for Papers: Inquiry in the Classroom in the MD-DC-VA Section
    Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) takes many forms in the classroom. From occasional activities in a class period to a complete course structure, the unifying theme is to put students in charge of creating mathematics, rather than only consuming it. This session invites all talks concerning IBL. In particular, we invite presentations on successful IBL activities, practical implementation issues, inquiry in lower division courses, scholarly research on IBL, or any success story that could help others implement IBL. We also welcome expository presentations on available resources for teaching through inquiry, tips for those who are new to IBL, or an overview of the research on the effectiveness of IBL.

  • Spring 2016 MD-DC-VA Section Meeting, Montgomery College, April 15-16, 2016:
    Panel Discussion: Inquiry Based Learning in the MD-DC-VA Section
    (Organizers: Amy Ksir (USNA) and Cassie Williams (JMU))


    • Mitch Keller, Washington and Lee University

    • Amy Ksir, US Naval Academy

    • Pádraig McLoughlin, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

    • Cassie Williams, James Madison University

IBL Resources:

IBL Resources:

  • Active Calculus - A free, open source, inquiry-based textbook for Calculus by Matt Boelkins, David Austin, and Steven Schlicker of Grand Valley State University. Both single variable and multivariable editions are available.