University of Wisconsin–Madison


Faculty and teaching staff at UW-Madison are encouraged to apply for The Discussion Project program. While the application window for the Fall 2017 cohort has closed, the Spring 2018 cohort application should open in late fall. We select up to 30 participants with the aim of creating a group that is diverse along a variety of factors. At this time, graduate students at UW-Madison are not eligible to apply.

During this first year, we will be evaluating the curriculum for the purposes of strengthening and redesigning the program. To that end, it is important that participants attend all of the sessions. To encourage full participation, the members of the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 Cohorts will be paid $500 after completing all six of the program sessions.

“[My current students] have expressed that their experience of schooling and undergrad has not been focused on discussion and they find it daunting to enter a program that is reading and discussion heavy. There’s a sense of relief that seems to come over students when they realize that they can get better at discussion  AND that the instructor has a responsibility to structure discussion in such a way as to foster and support good discussion.”  – Gail P., Department of Curriculum & Instruction


Instructors often assume that college students already know how to engage in classroom discussion.
In fact, a review of the relevant research shows that…

Students often don’t understand what is expected of them during discussion.

Students do not know how to focus their reading for discussion.

Students hesitate to discuss when the classroom climate is too contentious or too cordial. Setting the right tone matters.

Both students and instructors underestimate how much preparation is required to participate in discussion.