2019 TBLC Best Poster Developing Flexible Problem Solving Skills in Math Courses Through Team-Based Inquiry Learning

We would like to extend our congratulations on behalf of the TBLC to this year’s poster award winners: Drew Lewis & Julie Estis. Their poster abstract was titled “Developing Flexible Problem Solving Skills in Math Courses Through Team-Based Inquiry Learning.” As the lead presenter, TBLC is pleased to announce that Drew Lewis will receive one year of free membership for winning. Please see their abstract below:

Developing Flexible Problem Solving Skills in Math Courses Through Team-Based Inquiry Learning
Drew Lewis and Julie Estis
University of South Alabama Background: While the need to increase active learning in mathematics education is well established, the question of which methods are the most effective remains unanswered. Flipped learning and Inquiry-Based Learning are arguably the two dominant pedagogies; very little work has been done on using TBL in math courses. We implemented TBL as a means of hopefully solving one particular challenge we see in math courses, namely that students become quite proficient at applying algorithms, but have difficulty thinking flexibly enough to apply their knowledge in new situations. Thus, we endeavored to study if TBL could increase students’ flexibility in problem solving skills.

Methods: We used a quasi-experimental setup, with two instructors teaching one linear algebra section via TBL and one via lecture in the same semester. The following semester, all six sections were taught using TBL. A common set of materials was used across all courses. Students were surveyed at the beginning and end of the course, and a focus group with students from a TBL section was conducted at the end of the second semester.

Results: In the quasi-experimental setup, students in TBL sections had a larger increase in flexible mathematical mindset (as measured by a short survey) over the course of the semester. Interestingly, in the second semester, this change was larger for female than male students. Moreover, in examining student work on assessments, students in the TBL sections were more likely to use a variety of strategies to solve a problem, while lecture students were more likely to blindly apply a memorized algorithm. Qualitative data from surveys and the focus group indicated that students recognized that the TBL structure allowed them to see multiple approaches to a problem.

Conclusion: TBL increases flexibility in problem-solving for linear algebra students.  Be sure to check out all of the abstracts from the annual 2019 meeting: 
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2019 TBLC Best Poster Developing Flexible Problem Solving Skills in Math Courses Through Team-Based Inquiry Learning

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