The aim of this professional development series is to strengthen our campus-wide capacity to create welcoming, engaging, and academically rigorous classroom environments in which students experience productive classroom discussions on important issues and topics.
Engaging discussions are one of the most rewarding and memorable activities that students and faculty alike can experience in the classroom. Recent research shows that classroom discussion deepens learning, creates community, and helps students form an academic identity.
At the same time, classroom discussion is a challenging pedagogical undertaking. It requires the instructor to orchestrate learning among a group of students who likely do not know each other, come from a diversity of backgrounds, possess a range of political commitments, arrive with varying levels of familiarity with the course material, and have different levels of comfort speaking in class.
Inviting students to discuss also comes with some risk because we don’t know what students are going to say. That unknown means that the instructor will have to be ready to follow one student’s interesting and unexpected line of thought, correct another’s misunderstanding about the material, and also be prepared to respond to any number of possibly off-topic, inappropriate, hostile, or naïve comments.
To address these promises and challenges, the School of Education has designed a professional development program for UW faculty and teaching staff. See the Program Overview page for more details.
Professor Kathy Cramer
Political Science, UW-Madison
I was fortunate to take part in your training last month. I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed my life. I am teaching a 15-person and a 50-person undergraduate course this term, and I am using the skills you taught me each class session. It has made me think differently about my teaching and I am quite sure the students’ experience is all the better for it. Thank you! You all are providing a fantastic service.
- The Discussion Project gives instructors vital skills to improve quality classroom discussion, learning – July 13, 2022
- Congratulations to the Discussion Project alumni who received a Distinguished Teaching Award! Check out the full list of Discussion Project recipients here.
- World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) interviews the Discussion Project – February 7, 2022
- UW project prepares instructors to teach better online courses – December 11th, 2021
- Mellon Foundation bolsters support for the Discussion Project -2019 Summer
- ‘The Discussion Project’ cultivates engaging, welcoming classroom conversations across campus – February 7, 2018
- ‘Badger Herald’ Puts Spotlight on ‘the Discussion Project’ – September 22, 2017
- School of Education launches new program aimed at fostering productive discussion – September 19, 2017
- UW Discussion Project Aims to Get People Talking Across Racial Lines – May 31, 2017
- Project Aims to Create Engaging, Welcoming Classroom Discussions – May 16, 2017
Affiliation of Participants: 117 Departments and Programs
|Accounting and Information Systems||Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences||Civil and Environmental Engineering||Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis||Geoscience||Library and Information Studies||Nutritional Sciences||Radiology|
|Aerospace Studies (Air Force ROTC)||Bacteriology||Civil Society and Community Studies||Educational Policy Studies||German, Nordic, and Slavic||Life Sciences Communication||Occupational Therapy||
Real Estate and Urban Land Economics
|African Cultural Studies||Biochemistry||Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies||Educational Psychology||History||Management and Human Resources||Operations and Information Management||
Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education
|African Studies Program||Biocore||Communication Arts||Electrical and Computer Engineering||Horticulture||Marketing||Pathobiological Sciences||
|Afro-American Studies||Biological Systems Engineering||Communication Sciences and Disorders||Engineering Physics||Human Development and Family Studies||Materials Science and Engineering||Pediatrics||
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
|Agricultural and Applied Economics||Biology||Community and Environmental Sociology||English||Integrated Liberal Studies||Mathematics||Pharmacy||Social Work|
|Agroecology||Biomedical Engineering||Computer Sciences||Entomology||Integrative Biology||Mechanical Engineering||Philosophy||Sociology|
|American Indian Studies||Biostatistics and Medical Informatics||Consumer Science||Family Medicine||Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies||Medical History and Bioethics||Physical Therapy||Soil Science|
|Animal Sciences||Botany||Continuing Studies||Finance, Investment and Banking||International Studies||Medical Physics||Physics||
Spanish and Portuguese
|Anthropology||Business||Counseling Psychology||Food Science||Jewish Studies||Medicine||Planning and Landscape Architecture||
|Art||Cell and Regenerative Biology||Curriculum and Instruction||Forest and Wildlife Ecology||Journalism and Mass Communication||Military Science (Army ROTC)||Plant Pathology||Statistics|
|Art Department||Center for Asian Studies—South Asian Studies||Dairy Science||French and Italian||Kinesiology||Music||Political Science||
Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement
|Art History||Chemical and Biological Engineering||Dance||Gender and Women’s Studies||Language Sciences||Naval Science (Naval ROTC)||
Population Health Sciences
|Asian Languages and Cultures||Chemistry||Design Studies||Genetics||Law||Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies||Psychology|
|Astronomy||Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies||Economics||Geography||Legal Studies||Nursing||Public Affairs|