This comprehensive study examines student outcomes of inquiry-based learning (IBL) in undergraduate mathematics and links these outcomes to students’ and instructors’ experiences of IBL. Based at four research universities that have been developing IBL courses, the mixed-methods study examines outcomes including skills, cognitive gains, attitudes and beliefs, and education and career paths. The study also seeks to understand how these outcomes come about, using a combination of surveys, classroom observations, interviews, tests, and student academic records. Finally, we are examining the recruitment and participation of IBL instructors, their professional development, and the institutionalization of these approaches in their departments.

  • Laursen, S. (2015, June). From innovation to implementation: Multi-institution pedagogical reform in undergraduate mathematics. A summary of research results. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Boulder, Ethnography & Evaluation Research. [A two-page digest of key findings]
  • Laursen, S., Hassi, M. L., Kogan, M., Hunter, A. B., & Weston, T. (2011). Evaluation of the IBL Mathematics Project: Student and Instructor Outcomes of Inquiry-Based Learning in College Mathematics. (Report to the Educational Advancement Foundation and the IBL Mathematics Centers) Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Boulder, Ethnography & Evaluation Research, Assessment & Evaluation Center for Inquiry-Based Learning in Mathematics.

Study methods - all appendices

Assessment & Evaluation Center for Inquiry-Based Learning in Mathematics (2009). (Reports to the IBL Mathematics Project) Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Boulder, Ethnography & Evaluation Research.

In related work, we are evaluating professional development workshops that support college mathematics instructors in using inquiry-based learning in their own courses. See our Professional Development page for our most recent reports.

We are currently studying how people, structures, and ideas are important to the past development, current growth, and future sustainability of an educational community that promotes inquiry-based learning in college mathematics.

Some of this work reveals opportunities and challenges for the IBL Math community in defining itself. To learn more from the research team and from IBL community members, visit the IBL Community page.

Interested in inquiry-based learning in math? We recommend the following resources:


The SALG-M is a form of the Student Assessment of their Learning Gains (SALG) survey instrument that is customized for undergraduate mathematics courses. We have used this survey to examine students' learning gains across a range of cognitive, affective, and social domains (e.g. Hassi & Laursen, 2009) and are making it available to instructors and researchers. To examine or use the SALG-M, please download these instructions and visit to set up and customize a copy for your own use. To review the questions, view this copy.

Ways to Learn About IBL Teaching

Materials for IBL Courses