Saint Xavier University’s (SXU) Kristen Schreck, assistant professor of mathematics, was awarded a $2,500 grant by the Educational Advancement Foundation upon recommendation of The Academy of Inquiry-Based Learning. The grant is in support of Prof. Schreck’s efforts to develop student-centered methods for teaching math. She has used these approaches in previous courses and currently in her trigonometry classes at SXU.
In a student-centered math class, the instructor provides the students with notes and problem sets that the students solve in class or on their own. Then, they can work individually or collaboratively to present their solutions, followed by questions from the class. This method transforms the teacher’s role from a more traditional dispenser of knowledge into a facilitator of knowledge.
An inquiry-based method adds a communicative level of learning and allows for the students to stay at the same pace. Students are less likely to fall behind because the interactive format prevents individuals from being silent observers, which makes them more actively engaged.
Prof. Schreck still continues to use some traditional styles of teaching but states, “I limit the online work mainly to skill-building material so that class time can be used for more advanced learning.” As a result, she says this experience rejuvenated her teaching and she has seen a positive difference in learning.
Additionally, Prof. Schreck will be presenting a talk and contributing a paper entitled, “Engaging Applications in Differential Geometry using Maple: Monge’s Legacy,” at the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics in Las Vegas in March, 2015. She also hopes to present her research on inquiry-based learning at the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America which will be held at Northern Illinois University in March, 2015.