A New Vision

Discovering the Art of Mathematics (DAoM), is an innovative approach to teaching mathematics to liberal arts and humanities students at the college level, that offers the following vision:

Mathematics for Liberal Arts students will be actively involved in authentic mathematical experiences that

  • are both challenging and intellectually stimulating,
  • provide meaningful cognitive and metacognitive gains, and,
  • nurture healthy and informed perceptions of mathematics, mathematical ways of thinking, and the ongoing impact of mathematics not only on STEM fields but also on the liberal arts and humanities.

DAoM provides a wealth of resources for mathematics faculty to help realize this vision in their Mathematics for Liberal Arts (MLA) courses: a library of 11 inquiry-based learning guides, extensive teacher resources and many professional development opportunities. These tools enable faculty to transform their classrooms to be responsive to current research on learning (e.g. National Academy Press’s How People Learn) and the needs and interests of MLA students without enormous start-up costs or major restructuring.

Broader Audiences

As this project has progressed, we have come to understand how fundamental this vision is for many other audiences beyond mathematics for liberal arts students. Central aspects of this project have a great deal to provide for teaching and learning in calculus, in mathematical content courses for pre-service teachers, for introduction to proof courses, for upper-division mathematics courses, as well as for homeschoolers, for Math Circles, and for mathematical enrichment programs.

Inquiry-Based Learning

The need for more active involvement of mathematics students in the learning process is well documented. Involvement occurs through the use of inquiry-based learning. The curriculum materials that make up Discovering the Art of Mathematics (DAoM) "flip" the typical lecture dynamic by being built on guided-discovery investigations.

DAoM materials focus on investigations, tasks, experiments, constructions, data collection and discussion prompts rather than transcribed lectures and worked-out sample problems followed by banks of routine exercises. The transformative impact this has on students in MLA classrooms can be seen clearly in the classroom vignette, student quotes, and videos shown on our classroom page.

More generally, our online, e-book Discovering the Art of Teaching and Learning Mathematics Through Inquiry provides comprehensive resources - discussions, classroom videos, resources – for learning how to transform your classroom into one where inquiry is the dominant form of teaching and learning.

The Curriculum

The DAoM library consists of 11 books freely available for classroom use. Each volume is built around deep mathematical topics and provides inquiry-based materials which can be used as content for a semester-long, themed course. Materials can also be used as modules, to experiment with inquiry-based learning and/or to help supplement typical topics (e.g. rules for exponents, large numbers, proof).

Books, freely available in PDF format can be downloaded from our books page.

Workshops / Professional Development

To help support the use of inquiry-based teaching and learning in general education mathematics courses DAoM offers 1- to 2-day workshops which travel to you. In DAoM traveling workshops you will:

  • Experience what mathematical inquiry can feel like in a math for liberal arts class,
  • Investigate particular content areas that might connect with your students,
  • Understand and practice ways for creating a classroom environment where productive, safe, and deep mathematical inquiry can take place
  • Reflect on the interaction of teacher, student, investigations, mathematics, and inquiry materials in the classroom.

To learn more about workshops and how to schedule a free workshop in your region, please see our workshops page.

Paid opportunities for reviewing and beta testing DAoM materials are also available. Please contact us if you are interested.


NSF LogoThis project is based upon work currently supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF1225915 and previously supported by NSF0836943 and a gift from Mr. Harry Lucas.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.