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Preparing students for inquiry-based learning: Lessons learned from the online learning environment

Harbaugh, A.G. (2012) Preparing students for inquiry-based learning: Lessons learned from the online learning environment. In: MathFest 2012, 2 - 4 August 2012, Madison, WI


It is not uncommon for instructors to experiment with non-traditional pedagogies and innovative activities. The lessons are well crafted and the activities planned with care. Yet, despite the preparation and the good intention, some student responses can be quite negative. Theories in educational psychology suggest this may be less a consequence of the teaching quality and more an attribute of the academic capital of the students. Research from adult education and online learning proposes reasons for the students’ negative reception. Three influential factors emerge: students’ level of autonomous learning, epistemic beliefs regarding the nature of authority and justification, and active participation in a community of learning. While many students come to tacitly acquire these skills or beliefs, other students hold expectations about mathematics instruction that hinder them from both establishing this academic capital and engaging fully with the structure d learning activities. This presentation discusses research from the online learning environment and describes the parallel nature with inquiry- based learning (IBL). The focus of the talk is to elaborate strategies to support students in math classrooms using IBL. These strategies are designed to engage students in IBL activities while supporting them as they develop skills of autonomous and self-directed learning. In addition, engagement in these activities (1) encourages a more sophisticated belief about the nature of mathematical justification and (2) establishes a community of learners via mathematical discourse.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
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