Capitalizing on Advances in K-12 Mathematics Education in Undergraduate Mathematics: An Inquiry-oriented Approach to Differential Equations

Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University
Oh Kwon, Seoul National University
Karen Allen, Valparaiso University
Karen Marrongelle, Portland State University
Mark Burtch, American University in Dubai

© 2006 Springer International Publishing for Seoul National University, Education Research Institute


This paper provides an overview of the Inquiry-Oriented Differential Equations (IO-DE) project and reports on the main results of a study that compared students’ beliefs, skills, and understandings in IO-DE classes to more conventional approaches. The IO-DE project capitalizes on advances within mathematics and mathematics education, including the instructional design theory of Realistic Mathematics Education and the social negotiation of meaning. The main results of the comparison study found no significant difference between project students and comparison students on an assessment of routine skills and a significant difference in favor of project students on an assessment of conceptual understanding. Given these encouraging results, the theoretical underpinnings of the innovative approach may be useful more broadly for undergraduate mathematics education reform.