As a grad student, life can be hectic—with classes, homework, teaching responsibilities and more—so taking the time out of an already busy schedule to read the AMS Notices “cover to cover” is not always something that seems easily attainable. In fact, if you are like me, often when you get the email notification that the Notices is published and you quickly file it away into a folder to check out at a later date, but let’s be honest, you rarely enter that folder to peruse them after you click the button to file it away. Now as a mathematician, staying up to date is important and filing away the Notices for some future date may not be the best habit to have. That’s where this post and future posts come in handy. Every time that the Notices have a new edition available, we will be spotlighting an article that we think is of particular interest for us as graduate students. We encourage you to take a moment out of your busy schedule to read the article or, if you aren’t interested in the topic we are emphasizing, to peruse the other articles and find one that catches your eye. So without further ado, our first spotlighted article.
This month’s article is titled “What is Inquiry-Based Learning?” by Dana C. Ernst, Angie Hodge, and Stan Yoshinobu, located in the Communications section of the Notices. As we are in the throws of summer break now, we can take time to reflect on the past year of teaching, evaluating what went well (and what didn’t go as well) and all of the questions that go along with the teaching experience. In addition to reflection, we must also begin thinking about the upcoming year and how we will approach our new classes. This article is a great introduction to a classroom that looks very different from the traditional classroom experience that many students encounter, especially in math. As a brief overview, we really only need one definition to get started reading this article and that is inquiry-based learning. Wikipedia defines inquiry-based learning as “a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems, or scenarios—rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge.” With this definition you are now armed and ready to conquer reading this article. As you peruse this article, I challenge you to consider what ways could you incorporate some aspects of inquiry-based learning into your classroom next semester or even this summer.
To read this article and others, the Notices is available here through the AMS.