Collaborative Research: Developing Inquiry Oriented Instructional Materials for Linear Algebra

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary A first course in linear algebra is widely viewed as pivotal yet difficult for university students. Linear algebra is important because of its unifying power within mathematics, as well as its applicability to areas outside of mathematics. As such, linear algebra is a course commonly required course for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Because of the important, transitional role that linear algebra plays in students mathematical and scientific development, effective instruction at this juncture is paramount. Building on prior research in the learning and teaching of linear algebra, the goals of the proposed project are to develop inquiry-oriented curriculum materials, associated instructor resources, and a prototype assessment instrument. Taken together, these products can have a transformative effect on undergraduate education. The term inquiry-oriented has two levels of meaning. On the one hand, students learn mathematics by actually doing mathematics. On the other hand, instructors actively seek to understand their students mathematical thinking to make decisions and guide classroom activity. Research has shown that researchbased, inquiry-oriented instruction can enrich learning more than traditional lectures, within mathematics, science, and engineering (e.g., National Research Council, 2012). The instructional approach advanced in this project is consistent with this recommended shift in educational settings. Research has shown, however, that attempts to systematically scale up interventions in university STEM classrooms are sparse and difficult to achieve (e.g., NRC, 2012; Wagner, Speer,& Rossa, 2007). As such, a second goal of this project is to lay the foundation for scaling up this innovative linear algebra curriculum to a national and international level.
Effective start/end date6/15/138/31/17


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $47,342.00


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