Inquiry-Based Abstract Algebra: An Approach for Students of Varying Preparation
AuthorBesing, Kyle E.
AffiliationKentucky Wesleyan College
TitleInquiry-Based Abstract Algebra: An Approach for Students of Varying Preparation
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There is currently a push for an increase in active-learning in post-secondary math and science classes. The benefits of this style are discussed in the Freeman report1 and advocated for in the recent Joint Statement on Active Learning2 from CBMS. In order to increase the amount of active-learning taking place at Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC), An Inquiry-Based Approach to Abstract Algebra, a set of notes written by Dana C. Ernst at Northern Arizona University, were adopted as the text for the Fall 2016 Abstract Algebra course. Dr. Ernst’s notes were designed to be taught using the Modified Moore Method.
As with many small liberal arts colleges and universities, our upper-level math courses are taught on a two-year rotation. The students in these courses can vary significantly in their prior mathematical preparation and knowledge. This particular course consisted of four students, none of which had previously experienced inquiry-based learning (IBL), ranging from a graduating senior to a junior transfer student currently completing the calculus sequence. Given that the Modified Moore Method is designed for classes with similar preparation and prior knowledge on the subject matter, further modifications to the method were introduced throughout the semester in an effort to ensure an effective learning environment for each student.
In this talk, I will describe my experience introducing IBL in this setting. I will describe the challenges and advantages observed related to IBL and small class sizes. Further, this talk will include a discussion of the modifications that were made to make the course accessible for the entire class and the increase in performance and confidence I have witnessed throughout the semester in these students.