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ASPIRE in Math

Advancing Students' Proof Practices in Mathematics through Inquiry, Reinvention, and Engagement (ASPIRE in Math)

Principal Investigators: Larsen, Sean (Principle, Portland State University), Strand, Stephen (Co-Principle, California State University, Chico), Vroom, Kristen (Co-Principle, Michigan State University), Yannotta, Mark (Co-Principle, Clackamas Community College)
Funding: National Science Foundation
Dates the project is funded: October 2019 - September 2023

With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by improving undergraduate mathematics education. It will do so by creating curriculum modules for a transition-to-proof course for both two-year and four-year institutions. The modules, grounded in inquiry-based instruction, will be developed through a collaboration between universities and community college across the country. The Teachers Development Group will provide expertise in developing pedagogical strategies for implementing the modules. The project will use established methods to create knowledge, as well as innovative tools that have potential to improve the quality of education experienced by mathematics students. Actively engaging students in learning through inquiry-based instruction may enhance the student learning experience in the transition to proofs. This improvement may increase student entry into and persistence in proof-based mathematics courses, thus contributing to a mathematically sophisticated STEM workforce. The products created by the project will be freely available as web-based resources, such as an online Wiki-style textbook and web-based multimedia instructor supports.

The project seeks to draw on established design research methodology to develop inquiry-based curricular materials and a suite of resources designed to support instructors in taking on the challenges associated with ambitious student-centered pedagogy. Project deliverables will include a modular curriculum (for use in courses designed to help students transition to advanced proof-based mathematics), web-based instructor support materials, a Wiki-textbook template, and a professional development workshop. The project will be designed to create an ideal starting point for mathematics faculty to begin teaching with student-centered inquiry methods that are known to be more supportive of student success. The project will investigate how students can be supported in reinventing foundational topics in real analysis as well as how inquiry-based instruction can provide equitable outcomes. The project will also investigate the supports instructors need in implementing inquiry-based instruction. The project outcomes will be disseminated through a professional development workshop, an open-access repository, conference presentations, and publications. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools.