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December 15, 2011
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National Publication Features Mathematics Professor

Carmen Latterell, professor of mathematics and associate department head in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is featured in the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) journal Liberal Education. Latterell's contribution, "Should Liberal Arts Math Courses Be Taught Through Mathematics Inquiry?", examines the potential of inquiry courses for liberal education students who are not majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).

"The bottom line about liberal arts math courses for the non-STEM major," wrote Latterell. "Is that these majors really do not need to know mathematics content for their future, but mathematical processes offer an opportunity that is essential for their future."

Latterell's article discusses the possibility of teaching problem solving through inquiry and investigation, rather than the traditional memorization of math formulas and equations. The material learned in an inquiry course would model "math-in-our-world" relevance and allow liberal arts students to experience problem solving.

"It is more important to be able to think," wrote Latterell. "It is the processes of mathematics that one would learn through mathematics by inquiry. The ability to question, conjecture, investigate, and reason—that could actually serve students well over the course of their lives. A successful future lies not in knowing a lot of things, but in knowing how to come to know things, in learning how to learn. A liberally educated person should be able to ask questions, and know how to explore the possible answers to the questions, in an unending cycle of inquiry."

Latterell is currently teaching Mathematics for Elementary Education and Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics while serving as principal investigator on a $3 million National Science Foundation grant that aims to educate, train and interest science and mathematics graduate students to become better teachers and communicators of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with K-12 teachers, students, and the public. She has published over 40 articles, as well as two books, in the areas of mathematics education, and she has been the recipient of several national awards.

Additional Information about the AAC&U Journal Liberal Education
Liberal Education expresses the voices of educators, faculty, and administrators in colleges and universities nationwide who are working to enrich liberal learning and undergraduate education. AAC&U's award-winning journal is the national forum about liberal education—a forum addressing teaching and learning, leadership, faculty innovation, and institutional change all in the service of improving undergraduate education. Both theoretical and practical articles can be found in the various sections of each issue, providing the best thinking about liberal learning and the latest research and how it is translated into practice.

Additional Information about the AA&CU

From its founding in 1915, AAC&U has focused on advancing and strengthening liberal education for all college students, regardless of their intended careers. While the term is used in multiple ways, AAC&U sees liberal education as a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of value, ethics, and civic engagement. Characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study, a liberal education can be achieved at all types of colleges and universities. All AAC&U projects, publications, meetings, and resources reflect this broad understanding of liberal education and a vision of excellence that includes a practical and engaged liberal education for all students. AAC&U works with faculty and campus leaders to make excellence in liberal education an equal opportunity commitment.



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