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San Diego State University


Developing Inquiry-Oriented Materials for Linear Algebra

Principal Investigators: Megan Wawro, Virginia Tech; Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University; Michelle Zandhieh, Arizona State University. Funded by the National Science Foundation, 2013-2015.


Linear algebra is widely viewed as pivotal yet difficult for university students, and hence innovative instructional materials are essential. The goals of this project are to produce: (a) student materials composed of challenging and coherent task sequences that facilitate an inquiry-oriented approach to the teaching and learning of linear algebra; (b) instructional support materials for implementing the student materials; and (c) a prototype assessment instrument to measure student understanding of key linear algebra concepts. The project makes a needed contribution to the field by developing instructional materials that allow for active student engagement in the guided reinvention of key mathematical ideas. It also develops instructional support materials that convey the instructional designers’ intention without being overly prescriptive and that provide information about how students think and learn within the task sequences. The production of a prototype assessment instrument is of value because it furthers what is known about student thinking in linear algebra and provides a measure of comparison across pedagogical approaches. The study partners mathematics education researchers and mathematicians to incorporate research on teaching and learning into effective pedagogical approaches at the undergraduate level. Project results are disseminated through journal publications, presentations, and workshops. Sharing the instructional tasks and support materials is facilitated through the project website.