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Invited Paper Session Abstracts - Equity and Justice in the Context of Inquiry

Thursday, August 1, 1:50 p.m. - 4:20 p.m., Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 200

Research is indicating that inquiry pedagogies have the potential to offer rich learning experiences that address some of the ways in which the collegiate mathematics education systematically under-serves some populations. And yet, we also know that elements of these environments, if implemented without care, can contribute to the alienation of exactly the students instructors are hoping to support. For example, being asked to talk in class can trigger stereotype threat for students of color, and unstructured discussions may create spaces in which privileged voices dominate. In addition to implementation issues, as researchers we must develop and apply methods that allow us to see the experiences of marginalized students even when these experiences can be hidden by averages or statistical methods.

While inquiry pedagogies and equity research have great potential for interconnections, combining them as pre-existing perspectives can miss key issues. Inquiry in general might have potential for equity, but colorblind approaches to this framing of the classroom will hide the different meanings made by students in those classrooms and cannot address the pervasive issue that students of color are disproportionately tracked out of some mathematical spaces and into others. Similarly, to the extent that some equity research has had to use instructor-centered pedagogies as a backdrop, different assumptions in inquiry pedagogies might produce significantly different observations. As a result, equity and inquiry must be theorized and researched together in order to engage these emergent questions about using inquiry to rehumanize mathematics and offer justice for all students. The scholars in this session have all contributed to this ongoing research agenda; this session will put their work in direct conversation in support of extending this research agenda.

Brian Katz, Augustana College

SIGMAA on Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL SIGMAA)
SIGMAA on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (SIGMAA on RUME)

Introduction to the Session

1:50 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Brian Katz, Augustana College


Inquiry and Equity: Necessary But Not Sufficient

2:00 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.
Sandra Laursen, University of Colorado Boulder


In a recent commentary, Chris Rasmussen and I identify four pillars of a vision for inquiry-based mathematics education (IBME): student engagement in meaningful mathematics, student collaboration for sensemaking, instructor inquiry into student thinking, and equitable instructional practice to include every student in rigorous mathematical learning and mathematical identity-building. This vision is based in research studies of IBME in undergraduate mathematics, but we call it a vision intentionally to indicate that the four pillars are aspirational: these elements should guide instructors’ decision-making but are not automatically nor even easily accomplished. They define what is possible but not what is general. I will make research-based arguments to support each part of my claim, that inquiry is necessary but not sufficient for achieving equitable outcomes and experiences for mathematics students.


The IBL Experience When Students of Color Are in the Majority

2:30 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
Robin Wilson and Stacy Brown, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona


Much of the research on inquiry-based learning (IBL) at the university level has not specifically addressed the impact of these pedagogies in diverse institutional settings. Indeed, there is little to no research on the impact of IBL pedagogies at Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), especially with regard to the impact of IBL pedagogies on students’ sense of belong, mathematical identity, or competence. In this talk we will share findings from a study of students’ experiences in advanced mathematics courses which implement inquiry-based learning pedagogies at an HSI institution where students of color are in the majority and discuss why attention to belonginess, identity and competence are critical to enacting equity-oriented forms of IBL pedagogies.


Examined Inquiry-Oriented Instructional Moves with an Eye Toward Gender Equity

3:00 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.
Jessica Smith, Florida State University
Christine Andrews-Larson, Florida State University
Daniel L. Reinholz,San Diego State University
Amelia Stone-Johnstone, San Diego State University
Brooke Mullins, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Prior research has suggested that inquiry-based instruction could make classes more equitable for men and women. In this study, we analyze data from 42 undergraduate instructors and 681 students in the context of inquiry-oriented instruction in abstract algebra, differential equations, or linear algebra. Instructional units were video recorded and coded to see how teachers distributed opportunities to participate in whole class discussion, how these opportunities were taken up by students, and what teachers did with student ideas. Mathematically substantial opportunities were not distributed equitably between men and women, which was consistent with observed patterns of student contributions. Further, instructors tended to leverage women’s ideas at lower rates than men’s ideas when building on and formalizing students’ mathematical contributions.



3:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.
Rochelle Gutierrez, University of Illinois


Panel Discussion

4:00 p.m. - 4:20 p.m.