During three different occasions this week, I found myself explaining what I think my characterization of Inquiry Based Learning is. This seems to have settled down in my head after conversations (mostly electronic) with Bret Benesh, Dana Ernst, and Stan Yoshinobu, then months of quiet time before writing it down this week. I am basically copying down something I put in a Google+ comment a few days ago.
To me, the determining factors involved in IBL are about who has the responsibility in the classroom for doing the mathematics. For each of the following questions, I want the answer to be “the students” rather than “the instructor” as much as possible.
- Who has the responsibility for developing and presenting new ideas?
- Who has the responsibility for critiquing the work presented?
- Who has the final say on the validity of a particular argument?
- Who is responsible for asking questions and setting the agenda for further investigation?
In my classrooms, I try to participate minimally in (2). I do it some to help model correct behavior for the class. Of course, I have to be primarily responsible for (4), but I gradually invite the students to join me in this role. [See previous post!] Ideally, I leave (1) and (3) completely to the students.