Why should anyone bother to attend university courses, given today’s widespread access to information on most topics – much of which is free, complete, and available on the Internet?
This is not a difficult question to answer, given that STEM employers (and graduate programs) tell us that they want candidates that are able to “do”, not just “know”. Albert Einstein aptly described this phenomenon in the famous quotation:
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”
Such an idea reminds us that the educational process itself can be even more important than idiosyncratic, temporal, or topical knowledge. Largely agreeing with Einstein’s observation, I have adopted a method of teaching, called “Inquiry-Based Learning”, which focuses on educational processes, rather than discrete educational events. Inquiry-Based Learning, or IBL, is a method of teaching wherein most of the learning is student-centered, and students are required to take a high level of responsibility for a course’s classroom activities and work.
The American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America each espouse the effectiveness of IBL in mathematics teaching2, labeling it a primary “high impact practice” in the development of critical and effective thinking.