Inquiry Based Learning

Michael Starbird is the the co-director of the The Inquiry Based Learning Center (IBL) at UT, having served in this role since its inception in the early 2000's. Funded by the Educational Advancement Foundation, it is a national model and a center for dissemination of IBL materials and resources.

History of IBL at UT

In the late 1990's some faculty members asked the Undergraduate Studies Committee to address the perceived problem that upper division mathematics classes could not be taught at the desired level because the students failed to have the requisite mathematical maturity. In response to this issue, number theory class that uses a guided discovery approach, sometimes nicknamed Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) was developed. This Modified Moore Method has students prove and write up their proofs of theorems in introductory number theory on their own and present their work to the class. The teacher's job is to engage the whole class in responding to the mathematical arguments. Students in the class are asked to respond to the arguments they have just seen by pointing out gaps or errors, by restating parts of the proofs, and by determining whether the proofs are correct. The daily experiences of producing proofs and actively evaluating and understanding proofs help students to develop mathematical maturity.

At UT the transformation of teaching practice to include far more IBL methods has been enormous. The experience of inquiry as a fundamental component of a UT student's education has now been codified in UT graduation requirements, namely, there is now an Inquiry Flag which undergraduates must satisfy during their undergraduate careers.

For more information, please visit the IBL website: