Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, February 24th at 3 pm. in the EATON 425 for our fourth Faculty Colloquium of this semester. (Please note the change in location) Treats will be provided.

Inga Johnson, Professor of Mathematics

Title: An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory

As part of my last sabbatical, my collaborator, Allison Henrich, and I completed our book An Interactive Introduction to Knot Theory (published by Dover, January 2017). Our text is unique not because of the mathematics that it contains, but rather due to the pedagogy it employs. We have designed the book to be used in an inquiry-based setting where students independently figure out, derive, and create many of the major results of knot theory while using our book as a guide. The book contains definitions, exercises, and statements of theorems, but the proofs and arguments that underlie the theory are left for readers to develop as they progress through the text. This active-learning pedagogy places the students ideas and arguments as the centerpiece of the course. As a result, class meetings include little to no lecture but are instead filled with student presentations followed by a process of questions and vetting by their peers.

In my talk I will discuss the following questions: what is the difference between math research and writing a mathematical book? How does an inquiry-based course compare to a “traditional” mathematics course? What goes into planning and managing an inquiry-based course, and how does one create inquiry-based activities? What is knot theory, and why is it a good topic for inquiry-based pedagogy? I will also discuss current research on student outcomes when inquiry-based methods are used and how those outcomes compare to non-inquiry-based courses.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Doreen Simonsen and Daniel Rouslin

Faculty Colloquium Coordinators